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AOPA endorses draft FAA policy on safety equipment

AOPA is endorsing a draft FAA policy that would make it easier to install non-required safety enhancing equipment (NORSEE) in existing general aviation aircraft.

AOPA issued the endorsement in formal comments filed in response to a draft policy statement on “approval of NORSEE.” The association noted that making it easier to install safety equipment is a reasonable expansion of existing FAA policy and can help reduce loss of control accidents, which account for 40 percent of fatal GA accidents.

“AOPA is pleased to see the FAA recognizing the enormous safety benefits new equipment and technologies can bring, and has already brought, to the GA community,” the association wrote in its comments.

The draft policy is aimed at standardizing the approval process for installing NORSEE based on the premise that the equipment offers safety benefits that outweigh the potential risks. It provides guidance and procedures for issuing a design, production, and installation approval to a U.S. manufacturer or individual for equipment installations that are considered minor changes to type design and whose failure is also consider minor. This includes equipment such as a traffic, weather, or terrain advisory systems; attitude indicators; crashworthiness equipment such as seatbelts, airbags, and energy-absorbing seats; autopilots; fire extinguishers; and more.

NORSEE equipment installations that require major changes to type design would still need a supplemental type certificate or other traditional form of certification.

“The goal is to establish one policy that is scalable and adjustable to accommodate and encourage the installation of new technology safety enhancements into all aircraft product types,” the draft policy states.

And that could have significant safety impacts on the general aviation community.

“Once an airplane rolls off the assembly line, current FAA certification rules have made it really hard and expensive to install new equipment that would enhance safety. Hopefully, that’s all about to change,” said George Perry, senior vice president of the AOPA Air Safety Institute. “With the adoption of a commonsense approach and the approval of this NORSEE policy, pilots might soon be able to install all kinds of safety enhancing equipment in older aircraft. This policy has the potential to be a game changer for aviation safety.”

AOPA has long advocated for making it easier and more affordable to bring modern safety equipment into existing GA aircraft. With relatively few new GA aircraft being produced each year and the advanced age of the GA fleet, it has become increasingly important to make existing aircraft safer. 

“This policy is another important step in moving toward a more risk-based approach to regulation,” said Justin Barkowski, AOPA director of regulatory affairs. “The FAA has embraced that approach when it comes to putting angle of attack indicators in aircraft, and this is the next logical step.”

Elizabeth Tennyson

Elizabeth A Tennyson

Senior Director of Communications
AOPA Senior Director of Communications Elizabeth Tennyson is an instrument-rated private pilot who first joined AOPA in 1998.
Topics: Advocacy, AOPA, FAA Information and Services

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