Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was the host of two meetings, from Jan. 8-11, of the Federal Aviation Administration FAR Part 23 Aviation Rule Making Committee (ARC) and the ASTM International F44 group charged with developing recommendations that would significantly change aircraft certification regulations for most general aviation aircraft. FAR Part 23 covers aircraft under 19,000 pounds, from simple, piston-powered airplanes to highly complex twin-engine jets.
Members of ARC include representatives of most major airframe and aircraft equipment manufacturers as well as aviation regulators from Brazil, Canada, China, Europe and New Zealand.
The ARC committee has worked since November 2011 to develop performance-based regulations that will be readily adaptable to new technology. The committee aims to enhance safety and encourage innovation by streamlining the process for certifying new technologies, while also lowering the costs of developing new products. It is expected to have final recommendations ready for the FAA to consider later this year.
The original regulations were put in place in 1958 by the Civil Aeronautics Authority, the FAA’s predecessor. As aviation technology progressed, construction methods, performance and complexity have evolved. While there have been significant advances in aircraft design covered under Part 23, it also raised the costs and increased the time for certification of all products due to the complexity of the regulations.
The way regulations are currently written, said Pat Anderson, professor of aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle, it is difficult and expensive to get safety features like airbags or GPS into an older airplane. “This ARC meeting is exciting not only for new airplanes, but also because it will lower costs and enhance safety for existing aircraft.”
Greg Bowles, director of engineering and manufacturing for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, said, “The most significant aspect of this meeting is the ability to create less restrictive regulations that embrace new technologies so we can enhance safety for new and existing aircraft – and do it on an international scale.” Bowles has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Embry-Riddle.
The ARC meeting is a high priority in Europe as well, according to Boudewijn Deuss, a rulemaking officer with the European Aviation Safety Agency’s Rulemaking Directorate. “We’re seeing a different era of cooperation between industry and the regulators,” he said. “We need to have the authorities retain responsibility for safety while industry has the flexibility for innovation and design, as long as it’s safe. Let’s regulate safety, not design.”