New international agreements promise to remove obstacles for manufacturers offering helicopter improvements to operators in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Officials of the FAA
, European Aviation Safety Agency and Transport Canada signed the agreements Sept. 15; the FAA
announced them Sept. 28. Once they go into effect, the pacts enable aviation regulators to use simplified procedures for approving the use of equipment covered by Technical Standard Orders (TSOs) issued by other nations. TSOs cover a wide variety of aircraft equipment. The change would eliminate the need for separate certification steps by the “accepting” regulator, which the industry has long argued only adds red tape to the process while offering no added safety to the end product. “It’s a small step in trying to get full reciprocal approvals among the regulators, but an important one,” said one industry official who has been observing development of the agreements closely. “It will set in motion processes for reciprocal acceptance of other approvals, like supplemental type certificates.” The FAA-EASA deal, however, can’t go into effect until its approval is coordinated among the 28 member nations of the European Union, which has strict procedures for that process.