Small Aircraft Get Senate's Attention

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New legislation passed through the House Tuesday (by a 411-0 vote) calling for a restructuring of the FAA's Part 23 certification requirements for the purpose of expediting approvals for safety improvements. The Small Airplane Revitalization Act aims to remove bureaucratic barriers to evolutionary progress within the industry (for the introduction of new designs and the addition of improvements to old ones); to cut certification costs for manufacturers; and to give manufacturers more responsibility in the certification process. Industry trade groups spanning from GAMA to NBAA, EAA, AOPA and NATA have all expressed a range of support for the legislation, which now heads to the Senate. If it's approved there, new certification standards could go into effect within the next two years.

In its current form, the measure would force the FAA to develop new certification standards by a Dec 31, 2015 deadline. The standards are to be based on recommendations form the industry delivered to the FAA through an aviation rulemaking committee. According to AOPA president Craig Fuller, the regulations "have been eclipsed by technological and design advances. They are holding back important safety features from pilots and aircraft owners." It is hoped that revising the rules will not only improve safety for pilots but also facilitate avionics upgrades and reduce costs. The bill's lead sponsor, Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., said the new regulations should remove barriers to investment in new aircraft design and make upgrading older aircraft easier and less costly. The bill's summary says in part that it will create outcome-driven objectives that spur small plane innovation. Find the full text of the House Bill, here.