[Aviation Today July 28, 2014] The FAA
will miss its deadline on implementing regulatory changes to the certification of Part 23 aircraft by about two years, according to testimony from the agency's Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Peggy Gilligan during a House Transportation Aviation Subcommittee hearing on "Domestic Aviation Manufacturing: Challenges and Opportunities."
In November 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Small Airplane Revitalization Act (SARA) into law, requiring the FAA
to adopt consensus-based, design-specific standards for its certification process that regulates Part 23 aircraft — planes that weigh less than 12,500 pounds. The FAA is required to implement changes recommended by the Part 23 Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) by December 2015. However, Gilligan told members of the House aviation subcommittee that the agency is already behind schedule on meeting that deadline.
"The schedule is somewhat slower than what the legislation had envisioned," said Gilligan. "Final rule is right now planned for December 2017. That is later than the statute that called for a final rule by December 2015, but again, first the complexity of writing the rule and then getting it published for notice and comment, considering those comments and then finalizing the project will take a considerably longer time than was anticipated in the statute."
Gilligan said the delay is the result of the comment and final rule process involved with the Part 23 rewrite. The goal of the ARC's recommendations is to cut certification costs in half for manufacturers of Part 23 aircraft, components and systems. General aviation manufacturers have long been waiting for the rule change, as it makes the process of certifying new Part 23 aircraft longer and also makes it more expensive to insert new equipment into the cockpits of those aircraft.
General Aviation Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) President and CEO Pete Bunce also attended the hearing, giving an industry perspective on the delay. Although the FAA has developed plans to improve its process for certifying new aircraft, the implementation of the changes often takes too long, Bunce said.
The agency has also increased its reliance on manufacturers that have Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) in certifying new aircraft components, such as Boeing
. However, the certification process itself remains flawed, according to Bunce and Gerald Dillingham, director of civil aviation issues for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), who also provided testimony at the hearing.
"We've been working on this initiative since back in 2007," said Bunce. "The bureaucracy is saying 'we don't care what you [in] congress say, we don't care what the President says, we're going to get it done when we want to get it done and it's going to be two years late.’ And that's exactly what we have to put up with in industry."