AOPA says the FAA is about to approve more liberalization of aircraft certification by relaxing some requirements for GA aircraft. In a story on its website, AOPA says the agency is ready to adopt less stringent standards for software, electromagnetic protection and lightning strike survival for equipment in light aircraft. Current standards apply to all aircraft uniformly, whether they’re Boeing 777s or Cessna 172s. Building and demonstrating gear to that level of compliance isn’t feasible for many companies focused on supplying the light end of the market and seriously drives up the costs for those that do. AOPA said the change is “nothing short of monumental” and “a banner moment that we’ve been advocating for years.”
“The FAA is striving to apply risk-based decision making to the certification process,” Mel Johnson, acting manager at the Small Airplane Directorate in Kansas City, told AOPA. “As we review some of our past policies we see areas where the policy may have been appropriate for high-risk situations but not appropriate for lower-risk applications.By applying a risk-based approach we can ensure compliance while scaling the approach to certification. We anticipate that this will translate into more products being certified for the general aviation fleet that in turn will improve safety.” Last year, the FAA agreed to allow Dynon and Garmin avionics originally designed for experimental aircraft to be installed in certified airplanes and two companies are at work getting similar approval for two-axis autopilots.