The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) operations panel has granted conditional approval for commercial operations of single-engine turbine-powered aircraft in instrument flight rules conditions (SEIFR) and recommends that these operations be adopted by the organisation's air navigation committee.

The endorsement is a major breakthrough for the manufacturers of single engine turboprop aircraft, particularly Cessna, EADS Socata, New Piper and Pilatus, and could lead to a jump in single-engine commercial transport sales as new markets emerge globally.

"If the air navigation committee approves the recommendation we expect the ICAO rule will become standard by early 2005," says Langhorne Bond, former US FAA administrator and principal of international pressure group Single Engine Turboprop Alliance (SETA), which is funded by the leading single-engine aircraft builders.

"While many civil aviation authorities strictly adhere to ICAO standards, there are still a few Luddites such as the UK CAA and the German LBA which continue to create obstacles for commercial single-engine turbine operators," Bond adds.

The ICAO operations panel has recommended a number of onboard safety items that must be satisfied before a single-engine turbine aircraft may be operated in adverse weather conditions, Bond says. These include a radar altimeter, automatic monitoring of engine performance and a global position system programme that determines the nearest suitable emergency landing alternative.

SETA is also working in parallel to change the European Joint Aviation Requirements (JAR) governing such commercial operations and expects a new JAR to be adopted early next year.

Source: Flight International