The USA's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has updated the design rules for light aircraft, which it believes will have a positive impact on encouraging manufacturers to adopt new designs, materials and construction methods.
Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 23 governs the design of Normal, Utility, Aerobatic and Commuter aircraft and stems from the original Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) 3, which was formulated in 1966.
Consequently, FAR 23 has been over prescriptive and out-dated, making it very expensive for manufacturers to adopt new designs and technology that could increase the safety of light aircraft. Aeroplanes such as the Cessna 172 series and the Piper Cherokees were all originally CAR 3 aircraft.
The new FAR 23, which came into force this week, will free-up aircraft designers to make greater use of composites and delete a lot of the detail on how to achieve certain standards.
"This regulatory approach recognizes there is more than one way to deliver on safety," the FAA said this week. "It offers a way for industry and the FAA to collaborate on new technologies and to keep pace with evolving aviation designs and concepts."
It is also expected to significantly lower the cost of certifying new aeroplanes. In 2015, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) estimated that $US200,000 of the selling price of a new-design aeroplane was simply to recoup development costs. This is believed to have contributed to older designs being kept and continuously updated rather than new ones certified.
FAR 23 also addresses recommendations from the FAA’s 2013 Part 23 Reorganization Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which suggested a more streamlined approval process for safety equipment on conforming aeroplanes.
Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Regulations have an equivalent regulation–CASR Part 23–which is likely to be updated to the new standard, given that FAR 23 was based on the European EASA CS 23 standard, and to not update CASR 23 would leave Australia with an unharmonised regulation.
Comment has been sought from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.