FAA Drafting Plan To Improve Certification Process
By Sean Broderick, Kerry Lynch
Source: Business Aviation
August 20, 2012
FAA is developing a plan to improve its certification process after a government/industry aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) found increasing industry activity and inefficient processes are delaying projects and increasing industry costs.
The ARC report, given to Congress last week, presented a series of recommendations to improve certification processes, better use delegation authorities and change internal culture.
In its report to Congress, FAA says it agrees with the intent of the recommendations and will develop a “comprehensive implementation plan” by October, along with a blueprint to measure the effectiveness of efforts to carry out the recommendations.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association, which says FAA’s sequencing system and resource issues have held up certification projects by up to 18 months, welcomed the report as a positive first step. “The FAA leadership has made a public commitment to dramatic process improvement and has worked diligently with industry to establish recommendations and metrics that will be used to evaluate progress,” says GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. “However, much work remains.”
FAA charged the nine-member ARC with reviewing the agency’s certification process following a congressional mandate. The committee found that while FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service (AIR) activity has remained “relatively” steady in the past decade, its workload is on the rise. As the U.S. fleet ages, AIR must spend more time on continued operational safety (COS) issues and ensuring that regulations keep up with advancing technology, such as composite airframes.
ARC found that AIR spends “most” of its time on COS issues and about one-third on certification. “Type certification and design approval workload is expected to grow because of an ongoing trend in the increased introduction of new aviation products; technologies and materials; new rulemaking and fleet-wide safety initiatives; international type validations; SMS [Safety Management Systems]; and the migration of technologies from large transport airplanes to other category aircraft.”
Ensuring that work gets done means improving internal processes and leveraging external ones, the ARC says. One internal challenge: AIR doesn’t have reliable ways to measure its processes for value.