FAA Backs Down On Noise Restrictions

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The FAA has backed off on implementation of noise restrictions that could have prevented owners of thousands of older aircraft from getting any modifications, through Supplementary Type Certificates, to their planes that had anything to do with how much sound they might create. After hearing from more than 30 groups and individuals, the agency decided that turning back the clock on already-certified designs would be both expensive and potentially unworkable, so the new noise standards will apply only to clean-sheet designs for which the certification is received after Feb. 3, 2006. "Following consideration of all the comments, the FAA has determined that the impact of a new noise standard on already certificated aircraft could be significant," the final rule says. "We also realized that given the number of STCs, the impact is almost impossible to estimate for the fleet of single engine airplanes." The noise restrictions are meant to bring U.S. rules in line with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules and if you've had a listen to some of the new European light sport aircraft that have so far populated that segment of the industry in the U.S., it's hard to argue with the direction this is headed. But teaching old Cessnas, Beeches and Pipers, to name a few, new tricks was going to be a monumental undertaking and the issue was flagged by AOPA immediately. "That could have prevented aircraft owners from making safety and utility improvements to their aircraft, and definitely hurt the small companies that offer those improvements under the supplemental type certificate (STC) process," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA's regulatory expert.