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House passes Small Aircraft Revitalization Act

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at 6:15 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 17, 2013, at 6:51 a.m.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Small Aircraft Revitalization Act in a vote late Tuesday afternoon, a move that supporters say will update outdated certification regulations.

Its passage paves the way for the bill to move to the Senate’s Commerce committee.

The legislation calls for the Federal Aviation Administration to reorganize certification requirements to streamline the approval of safety advancements.

Supporters say the legislation would improve safety while cutting the cost of certification in half for light general aviation airplanes.

“Today, all our manufacturers, especially our general aviation manufacturers, compete all around the world,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, who introduced the bill. “Their ability to get their products to market faster ... is incredibly important. Their capacity to make that happen and do it in a way to keep airplanes safe and sell products quickly aids in their ability to compete.”

The bill puts more responsibility for certification on the industry and manufacturers with the FAA maintaining its mission and obligation to ensure that products brought to market are safe and compliant with regulations, Pompeo said.

“It isn’t going to turn the lights on for our aviation manufacturing folks immediately,” Pompeo said. But it will improve their ability to compete over time.

Regulatory barriers to bringing new designs to market result in a lack of innovation and investment, according to the bill’s supporters. They say adoption of the legislation would spur innovation and clear the way for new technology to be adopted.

The bill has gained support from a variety of aviation trade groups, including the National Business Aviation Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association and National Air Transportation Association.

The Machinists union also came out in favor of it, saying that it will make “general aviation safer and help grow an industry that has been a source of good paying American jobs.”

The FAA’s Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee, made up of aviation experts and industry representatives, was given 18 months to provide recommendations to the FAA’s Small Airplane Directorate to reorganize certification regulations for Part 23 airplanes, which range from single-engine piston planes to multi-engine jets.

Those recommednations include replacing current, prescriptive certification requirements with performance-based, consensus standards.

Certification regulations would focus on aircraft performance and complexity and be written on a “broad, general and progressive” level.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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