OEMs Culling Cert Rules for Needed Revisions

By James T. McKenna | July 13, 2016

An international working group of helicopter manufacturers is progressing on efforts to identify certification rules and guidance that place undue burdens on the industry or offer it no safety benefits.
The effort kicked off last December when a steering committee was formed jointly under two trade groups to review Parts 27 and 29 of the U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and the corresponding sections of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s certification specification. The committee is working under the General Aviation Manufacturers Assn. (GAMA), based in Washington, and the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD).
GAMA’s director of engineering and airworthiness, Jonathan Archer, briefed R&WI on the ongoing work. Archer is a featured speaker at the Rotorcraft Technology Summit Sep. 19 and 20 in Fort Worth, Texas. He is speaking on the “Progress in Certification Streamlining” that will be led by FAA Rotorcraft Directorate Manager Lance Gant. 
The Part/CS 27 and 29 review committee’s stated goal is to recommend modifications of rotorcraft certification requirements and guidance “that will reduce certification costs, promote the introduction of safety enhancing technology and encourage innovation while maintaining or improving the level of safety.” 
Airbus Helicopters and Bell Helicopter co-chair the group, which includes Enstrom Helicopter, Leonardo Helicopters, Marenco Swisshelicopter, Robinson Helicopter and Sikorsky. A council of executives from those OEMs oversees work of the steering committee (made up of senior airworthiness experts from those companies) and technical subcommittees. 
Archer said plans call for the group’s membership might be expanded after initial work is done.
“The intention is once we’ve got a set of high-level, broad recommendations that we’ve got consensus on, we will then broaden the membership to include some of the bigger equipment OEMs and potentially one or two of the operators,” he said.
First, the group must develop an industry consensus from the differing perspectives of the helicopter OEMs. Plans call for a preliminary draft of consensus points to be completed by about Sep. 30, with a final draft to be completed in the second quarter of 2017.
The committee has been meeting every few months, which is about as frequent as possible given the conflicting schedules of members and the tasks to be completed before the next gathering. 
After the launch meeting last December, the group convened at Heli-Expo last March in Louisville, Kentucky, to define the current state of rotorcraft certification rules and guidance. That work continued in June at the conference of the Aerospace Industries Assn. of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. 
The committee was formed because of a number of problems with the current. 
Foremost among them is the fact that there have been no significant updates to Parts/CS 27 and 29 for more than 20 years. 
In that time, technology advances have outstripped Parts/CS 27 and 29. The group says this is reflected in the continued rise in documentation of disparities between the rules and current equipment capabilities (such as statements in certification projects of Certification Review Items, Issue Papers and Equivalent Level of Safety documents). All of these require time and resources to draft and approve.
In addition, there are significant differences in the certification rules and guidance used by the world’s certification authorities.
Committee members have been briefing their progress to the quadrilateral Certificate Management Team, which includes representatives of the FAA, EASA, Transport Canada and Brazil’s ANAC. Specifically, they have been briefing that team’s Certification Authorities for Rotorcraft Products group.
This October at Helitech in Amsterdam, the committee plans to begin identifying recommendations for sections of Parts/CS 27 and 29 that should be revised.
Photo courtesy of Marenco Swisshelicopter

Receive the latest rotorcraft news right to your inbox