Revamped certification rules for small jet-powered aircraft could prevent 14 accidents over the next 24 years and save the industry millions of dollars. The changes are projected to cost less than $500,000 to implement, but offer a potential saving in safety and efficiency benefits of more than $80 million and cut paperwork for regulators.

The potential gains are spelled out in a newly proposed upgrade to the US Federal Aviation Administration's Part 23 small aircraft certification rules, the regulatory route used by manufacturers of very light and light turbofan-powered aircraft.

Larger business jets and transport aircraft - those typically weighing more than 5,570kg (12,500lb) - are certificated under the more rigorous Part 25 transport category rules.

While the FAA today certificates such aircraft to higher standards than traditional Part 23 piston- and turboprop-powered aircraft, the agency does so using "extensive" special conditions, exemptions and equivalent levels of safety to bring the higher-performance aircraft more in line with Part 25 aircraft.

"Until recently, this practice of using special conditions, exemptions, and equivalent levels of safety did not represent a significant workload because there were relatively few Part 23 turbojet programmes," says the agency in the proposal. "However, in the past five years, the number of new Part 23 turbojet type certification programmes has increased by more than 100% over the programme numbers of the past three decades."

In addition to codifying applicable special conditions, exemptions and equivalent levels of safety, the agency is also proposing to that new turbofan designs meet the performance standards required of piston-powered aircraft in the next higher weight class, whether it be 2,722kg or 5,670kg.

Other certification areas touched on by the updated rules include stability, stalls and standards for emergency landing conditions as well as for flutter and engine controls.

Source: Flight International