FAA budget cutbacks are almost certain to directly impact the industry next, according to General Aviation Manufacturers Association President Pete Bunce. "The world will be different starting next year," Bunce told participants Tuesday at Red Bird Simulations' second annual flight training industry conference in San Marcos, Texas. "There will be cuts made," he added, explaining that these might result in a more difficult regulatory environment for the short term. On the other hand, Bunce said a proposed revision of FAR Part 23 that is now under way shows promise of reducing the hoops aircraft manufacturers and modifiers have to jump through to gain certification approvals for new aircraft and mods.
The Part 23 Aviation Rulemaking Committee is tasked to simplify Part 23 to manufacturers and will have a menu of options to suit their particular circumstances, rather than having to comply with rules that don't apply to what they're building or modifying. Even the FAA has proposed the notion of "twice the safety at half the cost." The explosion in changes to Part 23 occurred between 1994 and 1996, said Bunce, amounting to about 800 additional requirements. The changes are so extensive, said Bunce, that the distinction between Part 23 and Part 25, which applies to transport category aircraft, is sometimes blurred. Bunce said the FAA is also showing flexibility on revising knowledge tests to more accurately reflect the way pilots actually fly in the system.