FAA Takes Two Years to Rule On Bell Appeal


In January 2012, Bell Canada applied to the FAA for an exemption from the FARs that would allow it to increase the gross weight of its Model 429 by 500 pounds to 7,500 pounds as had been approved in Canada and a number of other countries. The FAA denied the petition in August 2012. Bell Canada submitted an appeal to the FAA in October 2102. Two full years after receiving the appeal, the FAA has now dismissed it, stating, “There was no new information to consider beyond that provided in the original petition.” Industry observers are asking why, if there was no new information presented in the appeal, the FAA took so long to act on it.

Bell’s appeal may also have raised political hackles in the helicopter industry. According to one report, within two months of the appeal being filed, the FAA received 57 comments from industry, including manufacturers, users and prospective buyers of the 429-some of which raised questions about the appeal process. There were assertions that the FAA gave priority to U.S. manufacturers over those based outside the country. The FAA had noted in the original denial that the exemption from regulations Bell Canada sought would “place the Bell 429 at a competitive advantage.” However, the FAA directly addressed its critics when it denied the appeal: “The point (competitive advantage) illustrated the unfair consequence that would result, which essentially amounted to a request to deviate from the applicable sections of [FAR] Parts 27 and 29.”