The FAA today released the long-awaited proposed rewrite of Part 23, governing certification of small aircraft. To be published in the March 14 Federal Register, the proposal is based on recommendations of a multi-national industry/government rulemaking committee that established a goal of doubling safety while cutting the costs of certification in half.
The proposal is designed to reduce the time it takes to bring new safety technologies to market by taking a more performance-based approach to Part 23 certification, rather than a prescriptive approach. It also enables standards for new technologies that are established by an international standards committee.
As written, the proposal would replace current weight- and propulsion-derived divisions in Part 23 with performance- and risk-based divisions for airplanes that seat up to 19 passengers and have a maximum takeoff weight of 19,000 pounds or less. It further calls for airworthiness standards to address certification for flight-in-known-icing conditions, enhanced stall characteristics and minimum control speed to prevent loss ofcontrolin multiengine airplanes. The FAA, noting that the rewrite is one of the largest in the agency’s history, released a video of the highlights of the proposal.
“This proposal would streamline how we approve new technologies for small piston-powered airplanes all the way to complex high-performance executive jets,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
“This proposal would improve safety, reduce costs, and leverage innovation to ensure the highest level of safety is designed and built into small airplanes,” added Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in announcing the proposal. “General aviation is vital to the U.S. economy, and this proposal would benefit manufacturers, pilots and the general aviation community as a whole.”
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association, which has long pushed for Part 23 reform, praised the proposal, though it comes a few months after the congressionally mandated deadline for the final rule. “This proposal is the result of nearly a decade of work by the entire aviation community and…will help improve general aviation safety and bolster the piston, turboprop and light jet market, as well as remove barriers to certification for new technologies such as electric and hybrid propulsion,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce.
The FAA is providing 60 days for comment from the date of publication. Bunce urged industry stakeholders to “respond quickly with meaningful comment and for the FAA to engage with other global aviation authorities, so a well harmonized and effective final rule can be issued by the current Administration. If they do so, the FAA, through its leadership, can put in place a lasting legacy that will benefit general aviation safety and the vitality of the general aviation industry for decades to come.”