On February 15, 2005, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would amend the regulations (14 CFR Part 21) affecting the certification procedures for products and parts. The proposed rule would require new aircraft manufactured in the United States that receive a standard airworthiness certificate be type certificated and manufactured under an FAA production approval.
The FAA also proposes to incorporate requirements contained in two public laws passed by Congress. A holder of a type certificate (TC) or supplemental type certificate (STC) who allows another person to use the certificate would have to provide written permission to that person. In addition, any person who manufactures an aircraft, aircraft engine, or propeller based on a TC would have to either hold the TC or have a licensing agreement from the holder. The proposal would also prohibit a person from altering an aircraft based on an STC unless the owner or operator either holds the STC or has written permission from the holder. Additionally, it would require the owner or operator of an aircraft that has been altered based on written permission to use an STC to retain that permission and transfer it at the time the aircraft is sold.
AOPA is concerned that the FAA's proposed changes to 14 CFR Part 21 could adversely impact the manufacture, assembly, alteration, and restoration of older general aviation aircraft.
While the requirement to obtain permission from a TC or STC holder was congressionally mandated, the FAA failed to make provisions for the remanufacture or alteration of older aircraft based on an orphaned TC/STC.
Under this proposed rule, it is unclear whether manufacturers who hold a TC for imported products under § 21.29 would now be required to hold a production certificate, which could increase the cost of the aircraft to purchasers. The proposal could also adversely affect the legitimate restoration of used aircraft that have been classified as destroyed or demolished by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). There have been many aircraft that the insurance companies and/or the NTSB have indicated are destroyed or demolished that were reassembled or rebuilt using spare and surplus parts. This is particularly true for antique and surplus military aircraft.
AOPA believes that the FAA should modify its proposal to account and allow for the manufacture and alteration of older aircraft based on orphaned TCs or STCs. The FAA should also clarify that the practice of assembling imported aircraft kits/major assemblies without necessarily holding a production certificate will be allowed to continue. And the proposed rule should include language that protects the legitimate restoration of used aircraft classified as destroyed or demolished by the NTSB. AOPA questions whether the NTSB has the technical expertise to determine if a destroyed or demolished aircraft can be safely rebuilt to conform to the TC and be in a condition for safe operation.