FAA Updating Weight and Balance Program Guidance

 - April 21, 2020, 11:20 AM

The FAA is extensively revising its inspector guidance on approval of aircraft weight and balance (W&B) control programs for aircraft operated under Parts 91K, 121, 125, and 135 to bring it into line with the changing society, the agency said. Under the draft guidance, which was released for comment through April 27, principal operations inspectors are to notify operators that they should update the programs in accordance with the latest advisory circular on W&B control programs, AC 120-27F, and submit them for approval.

The agency released AC 120-27F last year, updating guidance on how to develop and receive approval for a W&B control program, including information on the use of average estimated weight programs for passengers and baggage. This was necessary, the agency said, because over time, the information contained in [earlier versions of] AC 120-27 along with W&B control program approvals and acceptances have become outdated.” As an example, the agency said the survey program and approval procedures did not reflect weights currently observed throughout the world.

Previous versions of AC 120-27 published standard average weights for persons, based on Center for Disease Control (CDC)/National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) surveys, and for baggage directly. However, the agency said this approach could not keep paces with CDC/NHANES weights based on changing passenger behavior. The updates still use CDC/NHANES data and still provide the option of using weights, but provides updated recommendations of how to incorporate standard average passenger crewmember and baggage weight into authorized W&B programs.

The draft guidance includes revised templates for OpSpec/MSpec/LOA A011, A096, A097, and A098, updates FAA Order 8900.1, and advises principal operations inspectors to notify operators that the FAA will amend appropriate OpSpecs 12 months from the effective date of the notice.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect the targeted applicability of the control programs.