The FAA on Friday finalized new aircraft certification rules for general aviation that are expected to help the industry bring new designs and technology to market more quickly and cheaply. The new Part 23 rules, first proposed in March, will go into effect in August 2017, changing the FAA’s traditional prescriptive design requirements to performance-based standards. The long-awaited revamp of Part 23 creates certification levels based on size and performance for airplanes with a 19 or fewer seats and a maximum takeoff weight of 19,000 pounds.The changes are expected to help reduce the costs of certification while getting safety-related tools such as angle-of-attack indicators into new aircraft more quickly. During the FAA’s announcement Friday, manufacturers stressed that they need their new products to keep up with technology while being cost-effective. “It’s going to make aircraft more attractive to the customer base,” said Joe Brown, president of Hartzell Propellers.
The new rules also will more closely match certification requirements of other entities, namely the European Aviation Safety Agency, which is rewriting its CS-23 regulations to streamline the import-export processes for new aircraft. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association said such measures will “promote the acceptance of airplanes and products worldwide.” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce called the finalization of Part 23 a “landmark day” for GA. “This rule is nothing less than a total rethinking of how our industry can bring new models of pistons, diesels, turboprops, light jets, and new electric and hybrid propulsion airplanes to market, as well as facilitating safety-enhancing modifications and upgrades to the existing fleet,” he said. The new approach to GA airplane certification will likely apply to future reforms for other aircraft such as transport category airplanes and rotorcraft, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. “We do see this as a template,” he said. “This is not the last of these you’re going to see.”