Commercial, Personal/Corporate, Products, Public Service, Regulatory

FAA Prioritizes Part 27 Policy Review

By James T. McKenna | August 19, 2016


Newer aircraft like the Marenco Swisshelicopter SH09 would have to prove commercial airliner-level reliability to achieve single-engine IFR certification. Photo courtesy of Marenco

The FAA's Rotorcraft Directorate is prioritizing a review of certification policy for light helicopters to "facilitate a more rapid incorporation of advances in technology" in those aircraft, a top official has told industry groups.

The directorate's manager, Lance Gant, said his team is developing a proposed Safety Continuum policy statement for certification of helicopter systems and equipment under Part 27 of Federal Aviation Regulations and aims to release its proposal before the end of this year for public comment.   

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Gant is scheduled to discuss the Safety Continuum and other certification streamlining efforts Sep. 19 at R&WI's Rotorcraft Technology Summit in Fort Worth, Texas. Visit www.rotorcraftsummit.com to register for that event.

“The proposed policy statement will establish classes of Part 27 rotorcraft based on aircraft weight and passenger capacity for rotorcraft up to 7,000 lb,” Gant said in a July 25 letter to four industry groups. “The purpose of this Safety Continuum concept is to facilitate a more rapid incorporation of advances in technology for systems and equipment by recognizing a balanced approach between the risk and safety benefits for installing such technology.”

He added that the directorate “has given this proposed policy statement high priority.”

Gant’s comments came in response to a November 2015 joint industry white paper calling on the FAA to revise its guidance on certification of single-engine Part 27 helicopters for operations under instrument flight rules. He said the agency “has begun the process of adopting some of the concepts and recommendations” of that joint proposal in the proposed Safety Continuum policy. The single-engine IFR white paper was drafted by four groups — the General Aircraft Manufacturers Assn. (GAMA), AHS International, the Aircraft Electronics Assn. (AEA) and HAI.

Gant said the proposed Safety Continuum approach "is a much broader concept than the recommendations of the single-engine IFR white paper" and "can be applied to all Part 27 rotorcraft regardless of the number of engines or types of operations for which the aircraft is being certified."

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