The FAA has changed a final rule that would have had a severe impact on the ability of aircraft owners to improve their aircraft, including safety enhancements. The agency agreed with AOPA that "the impact of a new noise standard on already certificated aircraft could be significant." The final rule on single-engine airplane noise notes, "The FAA agrees with AOPA that the new standard should not apply to supplemental type certificates."
The FAA had originally proposed tightening the noise standards for small aircraft to bring U.S. regulations into conformity with international ICAO rules. But the rule, as it was originally written, would have applied to any change to an older aircraft that might affect its "acoustic signature."
"That means if you changed the propeller on a 30-year old aircraft, it would have had to suddenly comply with the more stringent noise standards applied to new aircraft," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy. "That could have prevented aircraft owners from making safety and utility improvements to their aircraft, and definitely hurt the small companies that offer those improvements under the supplemental type certificate (STC) process."
AOPA objected to the rule in June 2004, and the FAA ultimately agreed. As AOPA requested, the FAA said the noise rule will not apply to STCs for aircraft certificated under previous standards. The final rule only applies to airplanes for which a new original type certification application is submitted on or after February 3, 2006. The new standard also will apply to any future STCs related to type certificates issued under the new standard.
January 5, 2006