Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013

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


It is important to note how this legislation is effectively detailed and brought forward by the FAA’s Part 23 Reorganization Rulemaking Committee which is made up of many of the stakeholders and members of active general aviation operations and maintenance sectors, who represent the people who will be affected by the new rules.

Consensus standards

The bill defines consensus standards as follows: The term “consensus standards” means standards (regulations) developed by voluntary organizations (voluntary rulemaking committee) which plan, develop, establish, or coordinate voluntary standards using agreed upon procedures, both domestic and international.

Webster’s Dictionary defines consensus as “Group solidarity, in sentiment and belief, general agreement, unanimity of opinion.”

Certification and maintenance of existing airplanes

One of the more interesting proposals that could be included in the final rule is in regard to maintenance of the older, simple, existing general aviation light aircraft, usually defined as those of less than 200 horsepower and gross weights of less than 2,000 pounds. In order to reduce the cost of maintaining these simpler airplanes, the owners would be allowed to perform their own maintenance on their own aircraft when they can show that they are competent to do so, not unlike the large experimental group where owner-builders maintain their own airplanes subject to an annual condition inspection. AMTs would be permitted to perform such inspections on all “light aircraft” that fit in a group similar to the light sport group. AMTs would be permitted to inspect these aircraft and declare them airworthy without the current common “inspection authorization.” All AMTs would be permitted to perform this function. This would of course leave the rest of the more complex general aviation fleet to the authorized IAs for inspection as is currently in place.

Furthermore, following the bill's mandate of “clearing the path for technology adoption and cost-effective means to maintain and retrofit the older light general aviation” airplanes, allowing owners to maintain their own aircraft, like the experimental group, will bring their costs down and encourage the preservation and updating of these older aircraft. Further, with the aid of the AMT community, continued airworthiness of these aircraft can be secured.

Airplane owners and AMTs should write to their representatives who belong to the General Aviation Caucus group and to the author of H.R. 1848, Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) supporting the legislation and urging its enactment as soon as possible.

In addition, the FAA should be urged to make a driver's license sufficient medical approval for operation of all the airplanes included in the light airplane designation just like the light sport aircraft driver license for medical approval. Type certification should not prevent the driver's license/medical; the aircraft are all at least similar in performance and weights. Also, we should note that AOPA is still pressing its position that the third-class medical should be just done away with for private pilots. This would be the ultimate solution, but the plan is still on the FAA’s table with no action so far in sight. Urge your representatives to support this change also.

House of Representatives General Aviation Caucus

We should all keep in mind that at the present time more than half of the 435 members of the House of Representatives now belong to the General Aviation Caucus. This is a powerful lobbying group for general aviation matters. These men and women are very familiar with aviation matters and general aviation in particular. The group co-chairs are Sam Graves (R-MO) and John Barrow (D-GA). There are currently 223 members of the caucus. Contact these men and women to express your interest in this legislation and your thoughts on the content and how it should be implemented.

Be sure and watch for the Notice of Proposed Rule Making and be prepared to respond and comment on it. We sure will.

Stephen P. Prentice is an attorney with an Airframe and Powerplant certificate, is an ATP rated pilot, and is a USAF veteran. Send comments to: aerolaw@att.net.

 

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