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FAA Releases GA Certification Action Plan

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The FAA this week released its implementation plan for streamlining the certification and approval processes for general aviation aircraft, "to keep pace with technological advancements in aviation products and to help the United States maintain global competitiveness." The plan lays out a timetable and road map for the project, which aims to get airplanes certified twice as fast, at half the cost, while providing a greater margin of safety. The FAA said its revision of Part 23, which governs the certification of GA aircraft, should be complete in July 2016. The new rules should promote an increase in application for primary-category type certificates, and an increase in the installation of angle-of-attack sensors, two-axis autopilots, glass avionics, and other important safety-enhancing systems that can aid the pilot, the FAA said.

Many GA manufacturers have been anxious for this change, with some new models now in the pipeline put on hold or slowed in hopes that the new rules will be advantageous. It will take time for those new rules to produce changes in the accident rate, the FAA says: "Rulemaking will take several years, and given the size of the current general aviation fleet (roughly 185,000 airplanes), it could take 10 years or more before measurable safety improvement occurs." The complete text of the FAA plan has been posted online (PDF). The FAA also recently published the final report of its rulemaking committee (PDF), with its recommendations for changing Part 23 to industry consensus standards, similar to the system now used for light sport aircraft.

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