After a decade in the making and months of preparation, the FAA’s new rule that dramatically changes the approach to small aircraft certification formally took effect late last week. In December 2016, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the release of the new Part 23, saying it will “usher in a new era of safety and a new era of innovation in general aviation in the U.S.”
According to the FAA, the performance-based approach that relies on consensus standards will bring innovative, safety-enhancing technologies to small aircraft faster and at a reduced cost to the aviation industry. The new rule, which replaces prescriptive requirements with the new approach, targets aircraft weighing 19,000 pounds or less and with 19 or fewer passenger seats.
“With these performance-based standards, the FAA delivers on its promise to implement forward-looking, flexible rules that encourage innovation,” the agency said. “This regulatory approach recognizes there is more than one way to deliver on safety.”
Since release of the rule, industry leaders and FAA officials have been holding training and educational sessions to prepare both the industry and agency for the changes ahead. These training sessions are expected to continue internationally, as other national aviation authorities begin to adopt a similar approach.