Let's Bring Part 23 Rules Up to Date

Most pilots today probably don’t realize that the average piston-engine airplane in the United States is 40 years old. That’s right — they were built around the same time that disco and bell-bottom pants were considered cool. Unfortunately...

Many international regulators are already laying out schedules to rewrite their rules for small airplanes. The FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), for example, plan to issue proposed revisions in 2015 and final requirements in 2016. Authorities in countries such as Brazil, Canada, China, and New Zealand — who all participated on the FAA ARC — will coordinate implementation in their regulatory framework to create a globally harmonized approach.

To ensure a clear and appropriate path to implement the restructured higher level, performance-based safety requirements, the industry also established a new committee under ASTM, an international standards body for manufacturing, on General Aviation Aircraft. This panel seeks to create international standards for detailed means of compliance to meet the requirements of Part 23 for a variety of airplane types. The new ASTM committee will not duplicate any standards that already exist, but rather will make reference to them.

Small Airplane Revitalization Act

Implementation of these recommendations is strongly supported by the industry, regulators, and politicians. Congress is already pushing for the FAA to act quickly on the restructuring of Part 23 rules through the Small Airplane Revitalization Act. The bill, introduced in both the House of Representatives (H.R. 1848) and the Senate (S. 1072) in May, has been swiftly moving through Congress with widespread bipartisan support.

In July, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill on a 411-0 vote; it would require the FAA to implement the ARC’s recommendations by Dec. 31, 2015. At the time of publication, this legislation was moving through the Senate, and we hope it will soon become law. Even as rulemaking to promulgate the restructuring of Part 23 is underway, the FAA and EASA are evaluating opportunities to implement the benefits of restructuring Part 23 as soon as possible for light GA airplanes under the primary or Very Light Aircraft categories.

Taking a more flexible approach on certification will allow regulators to focus on what truly matters — increasing the safety of light GA airplanes by enabling companies to bring new, safety-enhancing products to market with greater certainty, timeliness, and at a lower certification cost. The internationally harmonized approach will ensure all countries engaged in global general aviation are working together to save lives and apply common-sense rules, while spurring innovation and competition. That’s a win for everyone.

You can read more about GAMA’s activities at www.gama.aero and on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/General.Aviation.Manufacturers.Association.


Pete Bunce is the president and CEO of GAMA, an international trade association representing 84 of the world’s leading manufacturers of general aviation airplanes and rotorcraft, engines, avionics, components, and related services. GAMA’s members also operate repair stations, fixed based operations, pilot and maintenance training facilities, and they manage fleets of aircraft.

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