FAA Revisits Helicopter Certification Standards

 - February 26, 2013, 3:42 PM

The FAA has begun the process that could lead to rewriting the standards for normal- and transport-category helicopters certified under Parts 27 and 29 of the FARs. On Friday, the agency formally issued a request for public comment due on or before May 23. Specifically, the FAA is seeking comments on whether it should revise the maximum weight and passenger-seat capacity for helicopters in both categories and make airworthiness standards “more efficient and adaptable to future technology.”

Currently, helicopters with a maximum gross weight of more than 7,000 pounds or with 10 or more passenger seats must be certified under the more stringent transport category, Part 29. Last year, the FAA denied Bell Helicopter’s request for a Part 27 exemption to allow its 429 light twin to operate at weights between 7,001 and 7,500 pounds.

Bell is appealing that decision. In its denial, the FAA noted that granting Bell’s request could upset FAA/EASA regulatory “harmonization,” but the agency held open the possibility of revisiting Part 27 requirements, which it is doing now.