Will those standards be one step closer to regulation? Schofield doesn't think so. “It's about finding a balance between a good product definition and helping the consumer know they're buying a competent product,” he explains.
Laminar Research's Austin Meyer, who developed the X-Plane simulator and Xavion, a cockpit safety aid that runs on Apple portables, believes a new product should be “locked down” first for the experimental market before attempting a certification effort.
“As soon as certification starts, a lot of the creativity stops,” he says. Meyer emphasizes this by noting that in one weekend, he developed and tested an automatic descent mode for an experimental avionics package for a Lanceair Evolution single-engine turboprop. “If it depressurizes, the aircraft automatically comes down to a lower altitude, maintaining separation from terrain,” he adds.
The certification process for all aircraft is purposefully slow in many cases to ensure product safety and durability. However, the FAA is studying moving to consensus standards for light aircraft (Part 23) structures and systems, a nod to bringing low-cost innovation back to the sector.