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Proposed Rule Streamlines Approval of New Safety Technologies in Small Airplanes

Proposed Rule Streamlines Approval of New Safety Technologies in Small Airplanes

At DOT, we see that innovative ideas and new technologies are offering us an opportunity to improve safety in all modes of transportation.

We also know that the U.S. aviation industry is on the leading edge of generating many of these new technologies and products. In recent years, manufacturers have developed robust and increasingly affordable products that can offer pilots sophisticated weather information and increased situational awareness, along with other safety devices such as seatbelts with built-in airbags.

I’ve been spending a great deal of time talking about how government must work hard to keep up with innovation coming out of the private sector. Both DOT and FAA are mindful of the fact that technology is moving at a pace that requires the government to adopt a fresh, agile, forward-looking regulatory framework to accommodate the industry’s efforts to incorporate the latest technologies into its products.

This is especially important when it comes to aviation. We have the largest and most diverse general aviation community in the world and its overall health is vital to the U.S. economy.

small airplane

That’s why we announced yesterday that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is overhauling the airworthiness standards for small airplanes in order to keep pace with new technologies and reduce general aviation accidents. The FAA's proposal, which is based on industry recommendations, would reduce the time and cost of incorporating new safety technologies into new and existing airplanes.

The current part 23 airworthiness standards are based on airplane designs from the 1950s and 1960s and set forth specific requirements for the design of every facet of a new aircraft. As a result, FAA often requires manufacturers to provide onerous documentation in order to incorporate new technology. These requirements can act as barriers to certification and innovation while also being costly to both the industry and the FAA.

To enable manufacturers to incorporate new life-saving capabilities into new aircraft, the FAA is proposing streamlining the way it approves new technologies for aircraft ranging in size from small, piston-engine airplanes all the way to complex high-performance executive jets. Certification standards for small airplanes would be restructured, replacing specific, prescriptive design requirements with standards based on performance and capability. The proposed rule also adds new certification standards to address in-flight icing and loss of control, both common causes of general aviation accidents.

To learn more, follow this link to a video featuring FAA and industry leaders highlighting the benefits of the proposed rule.

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