A new FAA policy statement will make it easier for aircraft owners to replace vacuum-driven attitude indicators with newer, more reliable electronically driven models. It’s a change AOPA has long advocated as part of a larger effort to make it easier and more affordable to put modern safety equipment in the legacy fleet.
The new policy statement, issued Sept. 14, makes replacing a vacuum-driven attitude indicator with an electronically driven attitude indicator a “minor alteration” under most circumstances. The policy applies to Part 23 aircraft weighing less than 6,000 pounds.
“This new policy statement is a move in the right direction when it comes to helping owners increase their safety and modernize their aircraft,” said David Oord, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “We hope this signals a broader shift toward commonsense, risk-based policies that will help keep the legacy fleet flying for many years to come.”
The policy statement allows the replacement of a single-function vacuum-driven attitude indicator with either a single-function electronically driven attitude indicator or one with a secondary function, such as a turn-and-slip indicator. The replacement instrument must have an independent standby battery to power it in the event of a loss of primary electrical power, be placed in a way that allows for partial panel techniques in the event of instrument failure, and meet other applicable regulations.
For the installation to be considered a minor alteration, additional conditions must be met regarding the location of the new instrument, the installation of a dedicated circuit breaker, and alterations to the existing electrical and vacuum connections in the aircraft.