Avionics News February 2016 - 36
S T O R Y
Part 23 rewrite
S C O T T
S P A N G L E R
n any highly structured activity, the prospect of change can be unsettling. Just ask anyone who has a relationship with Part 23 of the Federal
Aviation Regulations in the U.S. For most, these rules that itemize the
performance-based safety objectives that are the airworthiness standards for "normal, utility, acrobatic, and commuter category airplanes"
have defined their entire professional lives.
Part 23 also prescribes exactly how those seeking certification must meet
these objectives. Discussions of this relationship often lead to grumpiness because the stated methods of compliance too often lag behind current technology
and attempt to make one process applicable to the wide spectrum of aircraft
covered under the rule.
And yet, many are apprehensive about changes that would make the certification process more efficient, economical, and on pace with ever-evolving
aviation technology. That work on the Federal Aviation Administration rewrite
began roughly two decades ago does little to alleviate this apprehension. Nor
does all of the talk about consensus standards.
Many people in the industry see this as a revolutionary change, according
to Ric Peri, vice president of government and industry affairs for the Aircraft
Electronics Association, who has been involved in the Part 23 rewrite from
the start. "It's not revolutionary, it is evolutionary," Peri said. "It is not about
the standards, it is about the use of standards in aircraft certification, and that
started with the Wright brothers."
It's no coincidence that the FAA started the Part 23 revision process when it did.
In 1995, Congress passed the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act.
It mandates that instead of developing federal standards tailored to an individual