Rotorcraft Rule Rewrite Hot Topic at Heli-Expo

 - March 6, 2013, 6:49 PM

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) held a meeting yesterday at Heli-Expo to share its experience with the government/industry working group designed to rewrite FAR Part 23 certification rules for fixed-wing aircraft and encourage the helicopter industry to apply the model for possible revision of Parts 27 and 29 helicopter certification standards.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address and change regulations affecting the long-term health of our industry on a global basis,” GAMA president Pete Bunce said at the meeting. The 55-member Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) is making recommendations to the FAA and is co-chaired by GAMA and the FAA. Members include representatives of most major OEMs as well as aircraft regulators from Brazil, Canada, China, Europe and New Zealand.

Currently, helicopters with a maximum gross weight greater 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 spokesman Robert Hastings said the current regulations penalize safety innovations. But both AgustaWestland and Eurocopter are united in their opposition to granting Bell an exemption under Part 27 for existing models, but said they are open to re-examining weight standards on future production helicopters.