Part 23 NPRM – A New Horizon

By John DeLisi

In 1977, I took my first flying lesson in a Cessna 150 parked on the flight line at Long Island MacArthur Airport. If you head out to a flight line today, you’ll see that many of the general aviation airplanes have changed little since then.

The FAA’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Part 23, Revision of Airworthiness Standards for Normal, Utility, Acrobatic, and Commuter Category Airplanes, proposes significant changes in the design of new general aviation aircraft and the introduction of new technologies to modernize the general aviation fleet.

Through our accident investigations, the NTSB has learned many safety lessons over the years. The comments we submitted on the proposed rulemaking highlight areas in which safety improvements recommended by the NTSB can help further enhance the streamlining of Part 23. We are optimistic that the proposed process will address many of our outstanding safety recommendations.

I have seen technology advancements that are far beyond what can be found in the cockpit of many general aviation aircraft, and the NPRM proposes to make the introduction and certification of new safety technologies quicker and less burdensome for manufacturers. For example, with Inflight Loss of Control in General Aviation on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List, we understand the advantages that angle of attack indicators can bring to preventing loss of control accidents, and we support their incorporation into general aviation cockpits. The FAA indicates that the proposed rule will dramatically reduce loss of control accidents, and we look forward to learning more about the ways the proposed rule can help meet this goal.

We see great potential for the proposed rule to allow manufacturers to more rapidly introduce safety improvements into the fleet, as compared against the current pace associated with the FAA approval processes. By streamlining these processes, the proposed rule will help change the introduction of innovative new safety technologies from something that is nearly impossible to something that is encouraged and sought after.

The potential safety advancements made available through the adoption of the NPRM are exciting to consider. We look forward to the next steps that the FAA will take; steps that we believe will help save lives.

John DeLisi is Director of the NTSB Office of Aviation Safety.

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