Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013

FAR Part 23 Update: H.R. 1848 113th Congress


Most technicians are not thinking too much about this piece of recent legislation. It is a sleeper but, to be sure, it will affect every one of us in many ways that we are not aware of … at this point, nothing negative and all favorable on the surface.

The bill

The legislation is designed primarily to provide an easier route for the certification of new aircraft designs to avoid all the government hassles that are involved with making new light aircraft in accord with the type certification requirements of FAR Part 23. The intent is to make for a rapid and simpler process to production of new light airplanes. At the same time, it will include a process to include certification and maintenance of existing small aircraft to be maintained and upgraded and will provide the means for owners to reduce the costs of maintaining their light aircraft. This part will apply to type certified light small aircraft, those with less than 200 horsepower and some gross weight number not unlike the light sport aircraft category (LSA) which is a separate and distinct area with its own regulatory status.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the bill last July, with absolutely no opposition, all in favor. It went on to the Senate and the Senate also approved the bill. It only remains to be approved by the executive branch before being passed on to the FAA for preparation of an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) and publication in the Federal Register of the details. The schedule is set to have the legislation effective by December of 2015.

Main point

The gist of the Bill is to ensure that less-complicated airplanes would not be subjected to the same certification and maintenance rules of more complicated engines and airframes. This would of course reduce certification maintenance costs considerably.

Like the Light Sport Airplane (LSA)  rules, the FAA would use consensus based standards that provide for outcome-driven objectives in designing these rules. This is more simply described as the groups of people most affected sitting down and setting out by agreement what the rules will be without regulatory pressures and less oversight by government. The object being to separate less-complicated aircraft from the complex rules that govern more sophisticated airplanes.

Highlights of the bill's Congressional findings:

  1. A healthy small aircraft industry is integral to economic growth
  2. Small aircraft comprise nearly 90 percent of FAA general aviation aircraft
  3. General aviation provides for the cultivation of aviation professionals
  4. General aviation contributes to well paying jobs
  5. Technology developed by general aviation aids all sectors of the aviation field
  6. The average small airplane in the United States is now 40 years old and regulatory barriers to bringing new designs to market and maintaining older ones are impeding development
  7. Over this past decade, the United States has typically lost 10,000 active private pilots per year, partially due to a lack of cost-effective small airplanes
  8. General aviation safety can be improved by modernizing and revamping the regulations in this sector to retrofit the existing fleet with new safety technologies

The new proposed legislation, H.R. 1848 directs the Administrator of the FAA to issue a final rule by Dec. 31, 2015, based on the recommendations of the FAA’s Part 23 Reorganization Rulemaking Committee. The final rule must create a regulatory regime for small airplanes that will improve safety and decrease certification and maintenance costs; it must set broad safety objectives, that will spur innovation and technology; replace current prescriptive requirements contained in FAA rules with performance-based regulations based on joint group consensus standards, and clarify how the Part 23 safety objectives may be met by specific designs and technologies.

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