New Certifications Rules Help Manufacturers

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U.S. aircraft manufacturers will more effectively compete with their European counterparts when the FAA allows them to sign off on large parts of their own new designs. Walter Desrosier, manager of maintenance and engineering for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, said a new regulation creating "certified design organizations" (CDOs) will bring U.S. regulations in line with similar type-certification processes in Europe. "It gives manufacturers a greater level of control over the certification process," Derosier said. "It allows them to plan the certification process better." New legislation is pending before the Senate and the House to create the new rules. If passed, it will take up to seven years to put the new system in place. Derosier said CDOs, after being thoroughly reviewed and scrutinized by the FAA, will be able to certify, as airworthy, various parts and systems of new aircraft that they have demonstrated they have the knowledge and expertise to properly build. The FAA isn't absent from the process, Derosier said, but acts in an oversight role, rather than actively inspecting each component. He said there will always be parts of new airplanes that the FAA will directly inspect but the new system will allow the agency more flexibility to devote its limited staff resources to new technologies or new applications of technology. "It will allow them to focus in on areas that require FAA involvement," he said. Desrosier said the current number of inspectors is not keeping up with the growth in the industry and the CDO proposal will take some of the burden off the FAA. "It will allow them to leverage their human resources," he said. It may do wonders for some manufacturers, too.