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Friday, November 15, 2013

Congress Passes Small Airplane Revitalization Act

Woodrow Bellamy III 

Congress approved a bill that updates regulations on Part 23 aircraft components and technology Thursday, Nov. 14. Called the Small Airplane Act of 2013, H.R. 1848, will requires the FAA to implement the Part 23 Aviation Rulemaking Committee's (ARC) recommendations by Dec. 31, 2015. 

“H.R. 1848 is an emphatic statement that overly prescriptive FAA regulations and inefficient bureaucratic processes that unnecessarily lengthen certification timelines and add significant costs must be replaced if we are to promote safety and growth in general aviation," said Pete Bunce, GAMA president and CEO. 

Senators Amy Kloubucha (D-Minn.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) introduced the Senate version of the bill in May, which requires FAA to implement recommendations from FAA's Part 23 Reorganization ARC by the end of 2015. The ARC was formed in 2011 to identify methods to streamline the aircraft certification process for planes that fall under FAA's Part 23 category.

The ARC's goal is to cut certification costs in half for general aviation aircraft that weigh less than 12,500 pounds, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). 

During a recent interview with Avionics Magazine, Greg Bowles, director of engineering and manufacturing at GAMA, said an example of technology that will benefit from the passage of the act is angle of attack (AoA) indicators. This technology is commonly found in military and commercial aircraft, providing a better parameter for pilots to use in avoiding stalls. 

The FAA has expressed interest in getting AoA technology into the cockpits of GA aircraft, however the high costs of the certification process often prevents operators from installing it onto smaller aircraft. 

Under the provisions of the Small Airplane Revitalization Act, Part 23 aircraft will not have to be designed and certified under the same regulatory requirements as heavier, more complex and higher performing aircraft, according to the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA). 

"One of the things that the 23 ARC is looking at is to be able to develop standards that allow for non essential non-required equipment that we see typically in 25 percent of the light GA market which is experimental and light sport airplanes," said Ric Peri, vice president of government and industry affairs at AEA.

"Currently, when you certify avionics, you certify it to your highest customer base, and in Part 23 that's typically the King Air the twin turboprop kind of airplanes. Well, that makes very expensive products for a 172, or similar aircraft that's not as high end as a King Air.

"By being able to add a standard to a lot of the products that are in the experimental marketplace and kind of raising that bar a little bit, we end up with the ability to bring them into the bottom end of 23 to where the highest level of their marketplace is actually the bottom end of 23 and so we have more products in the marketplace that are available for your airplanes."

The bill now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature. 

 

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