FAA To Update Helicopter Certification

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Now that the Part 23 rules to certify airplanes have been revised, the FAA says it’s ready to take on an overhaul of the regulations for certifying helicopters. “The proposed changes are necessary to address modern designs currently used in the rotorcraft industry and would reduce the burden on applicants for certification of new rotorcraft designs,” the FAA said in its proposal, published Wednesday in the Federal Register. “The proposed changes would reduce or eliminate the need for certain special conditions currently required to obtain certification of modern rotorcraft.” The current airworthiness standards, Parts 27 and 29, were originally published in 1964, the FAA says, and “have not kept pace with advances in technology for rotorcraft.”

While the overhaul of the rules would be thorough, it appears that the changes are mainly an updating and simplification, and not a fundamental change in the approval process as was mandated in the new Part 23. “The proposed changes would reduce or eliminate the need for certain special conditions currently required to obtain certification of modern rotorcraft,” the FAA says. “The proposed changes would also incorporate the requirements of equivalent level of safety findings that the FAA has imposed as conditions for approving certain design features … Compliance with these proposed regulatory changes would continue to be shown by the same testing, analysis, and inspections as in the current certification process.” The FAA is accepting comments on the proposal until Jan. 30.

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