More Experimental PMAs Likely

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Owners of certified aircraft could soon have affordable access to a wide range of cutting-edge technology now reserved for the amateur built market thanks to an emerging joint effort by EAA and the FAA. FAA officials from Washington, Oklahoma City and Chicago went to Oshkosh last week to discuss ways to expand on the success of a groundbreaking move that granted a supplemental type certificate to EAA that allows those who purchase rights to the STC to install a non-certified Dynon primary flight display in their certified aircraft.

EAA’s VP of Safety and Advocacy Sean Elliot told AVweb in a podcast interview that the FAA, with its new risk-based approach to regulation, is enthusiastic about finding ways to get low-risk non-certified safety- and performance-related equipment on certified aircraft through the Parts Manufacturing Process (PMA). It appears the result will be a “tiered approach” to the PMA process where items that really enhance safety, situational awareness or even performance but can’t interfere with the aircraft’s core systems get an easier and less expensive approval process. “This is really significant,” he said. “It will lower costs. It will bring more safety-enhancing and performance-enhancing products into the cockpit for all general aviation pilots that we in the experimental world have appreciated for some time now.”

Since last year’s announcement at Sun ’n Fun of the Dynon STC on some Cessna models, more than 100 owners have bought the STC and the list of applicable aircraft has been expanded. The next STC application will be a TruTrak two-axis autopilot that Elliot describes as a “known safety enhancement.” The key to the process is presenting items that supplement the required gear on certified aircraft that don’t interfere with those systems if they fail. So, primary instruments and other essential equipment will be left out of the process but that still leaves a wide range of products that have been developed for the experimental world that could benefit the owners of certified planes. He said engine monitors and fuel flow monitors might be the next targets of the program.


Comments (2)

The GA community should be glad that the FAA is showing more forward-looking flexibility. Hope they keep it up.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | January 22, 2017 8:49 PM    Report this comment

Cirrus has made ballistic recovery parachutes standard equipment on their aircraft. A while back, there was a column in Plane & Pilot magazine which advocated that Ballistic Recovery Parachutes be made mandatory. I wonder, would an autopilot such as the TruTrak, save more lives in proportion to its weight and cost than BRC's?

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | January 23, 2017 9:59 AM    Report this comment

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