The FAA has issued their final Part 23 rule that overhauls the airworthiness standards for small general aviation airplanes. According to the agency, the final rule will both reduce the time it takes to bring safety enhancing technologies to market, and reduce costs for the aviation industry.
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that “Aviation manufacturing is our nation’s top export and general aviation alone contributes approximately $80 billion and 400,000 jobs to our economy.” He added that the FAA’s final Part 23 rule replaces “prescriptive design requirements with performance-based standards” which will reduce costs and promote innovation without compromising safety.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta called the rule a model for what can be accomplished “when government and industry work together and demonstrates that we can simultaneously enhance safety and reduce burdens on industry.”
More Details on the Final Part 23 Rule
The rule is a response to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 and the Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013, which both directed the FAA to streamline the approval process of safety advancements for small general aviation aircraft, and also addresses recommendations made by the FAA’s 2013 Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee regarding how to streamline the approval process for safety equipment on small GA aircraft.
So, how small are we talking? Well, the overhauled Part 23 rule establishes new performance-based standards for airplanes that weigh less than 19,000 pounds with 19 or fewer seats and recognizes the use of “consensus-based compliance methods” for certain designs and technologies. In addition, the rule establishes new certification standards to address both loss of control accidents and in-flight icing conditions for these aircraft.
The FAA also designed the new rule to promote “regulatory harmonization among the FAA’s foreign partners,” which includes the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), and Brazil’s Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC). The agency says this will help minimize the cost for GA airplane and engine manufacturers and also operators of the affected aircraft who are seeking certifications that will allow them to sell and provide new products globally.
The agency views the new rule as a prime example of how they’re transforming their “Aircraft Certification Service into an agile organization that can support aviation industry innovation in the coming years.” The final rule, the full text of which can be read here, will be effective eight months from its publication on the Federal Register.
Aviation Groups Respond to the Part 23 Rule
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), who co-chaired the Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee, called the final Part 23 rule a “true breakthrough for the light end of the general aviation sector,” saying that manufacturers and suppliers would be able to develop and deliver innovative products more quickly and better leverage new technologies.
GAMA’s President and CEO Pete Bunce said that the rule is “nothing less than a total rethinking of how our industry can bring new models of pistons, diesels, turboprops, light jets, and new electric and hybrid propulsion airplanes to market, as well as facilitating safety-enhancing modifications and upgrades to the existing fleet.” He added that the new rule made it easier for manufacturers to bring new equipment and technologies to market by reducing the time, cost and risk involved in certification while at the same time improving the safety.
Bunce also noted that the final Part 23 rule represented the work of countless people in the general aviation industry, the FAA, the US Department of Transportation, and the US Office of Management and Budget. He also thanked U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) for “shepherding the legislation through Congress so effectively and quickly. This rulemaking shows how, when government and industry work together, we can accomplish truly great things, and we look forward to this continued cooperation as the rule is fully implemented.”
GAMA’s Chairman Simon Caldecott, who also serves as the President and CEO of Piper Aircraft, said that “As the leader of an aircraft manufacturing company, I can tell you firsthand that the Part 23 rule will allow Piper to bring new safety-enhancing technologies to our products quicker, as well as more cost-effectively respond to certification safety requirements.” This sentiment was echoed by Joe Brown, the President of Hartzell Propeller, Inc., who said that the final Part 23 rule provided the framework to accelerate safety and innovations in general aviation aircraft while also encouraging competition.
AOPA President Mark Baker said the rule represents “perhaps the most significant and pivotal” reform for future of GA aircraft, but added that in addition to reforming the process for new aircraft and new innovations, they also needed to “focus on ways to modernize the existing fleet.” AOPA plans on continuing to work toward reforms that would allow for “existing type-certificated aircraft fleet to be retrofitted with modern, low-cost equipment.”
EAA’s CEO and Chairman Jack Pelton said EAA, who also served on the rulemaking committee, was pleased with the final Part 23 rule, saying that “it ensures a favorable regulatory environment for GA in the future.”