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FAA to update 'obsolete' rotorcraft certification rulesFAA to update ‘obsolete’ rotorcraft certification rules

The FAA has filed a notice of its intention to revise regulations dating to the 1960s that govern the certification of rotorcraft, noting that some technological advances “have rendered the regulations obsolete.”

Bell Helicopter unveiled the FCX-001, its first concept aircraft, at Heli-Expo 2017. Photo by Mike Collins.

The agency will accept public comments on its notice of proposed rulemaking until Jan. 30, 2018.

The regulations in question—the certification provisions of Part 27, Airworthiness Standards: Normal Category Rotorcraft; and Part 29, Airworthiness Standards: Transport Category Rotorcraft—no longer address “the extensive application of advancing technologies to rotorcraft,” the FAA said.

The agency currently deals with the gaps in regulatory coverage by issuing “reoccurring special conditions, equivalent level of safety findings (ELOS), and means of compliance (MOC) issue papers. This proposed rule would address these problem areas by updating those standards that cause unnecessary burdens in cost and time to both the FAA and the rotorcraft industry,” states the regulatory filing published Nov. 1.

It notes, “In some cases, advancements in technology have rendered the regulations obsolete.”

The FAA intends to use the same methods now in place for assuring compliance, “and there would be a reduced burden through clarification of the safety requirements for the installed systems.”

The FAA highlighted technological advances in several design areas including flight-control automation as areas in need of revision.

“The rotorcraft autopilot systems of previous years controlled only altitude, attitude, and heading. The more advanced autopilot systems also control airspeed, vertical speed, and hover,” it said, acknowledging that changes in the marketplace suggest that the flight-control automation trend will continue.

The proposed rule also would incorporate safety recommendations issued in 2014 by the National Transportation Safety Board on compliance methods “used to certificate in-service lithium-ion battery aircraft installations” for rotorcraft. The NTSB recommendations also called for developing new safety-practices policies including establishment of a panel of technical experts to advise on compliance.

Members who wish to comment on the proposed revisions identified by docket number FAA-2017-0990 may do so by Jan. 30, 2018 online or by mail to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Topics: Helicopter, FAA Information and Services

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