[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 202 (Wednesday, October 19, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 64859-64865]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-27036]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 43

[Docket No. FAA-2011-0763; Notice No. 11-05]
RIN 2120-AJ91


Pilot Loading of Navigation and Terrain Awareness Database 
Updates

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

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SUMMARY: The FAA proposes to amend the maintenance regulations by 
removing from the preventive maintenance category the task of updating 
databases used in self-contained, front-panel or pedestal-mounted 
navigation equipment. This change would allow pilots who operate 
certificated aircraft to update the specified databases and eliminate 
the requirement for certificated mechanics or repair stations to 
perform the update. The effect of this revision would be to ensure that 
pilots using specified navigation equipment have the most current and 
accurate navigational data and thereby increase aviation safety.

DATES: Send comments on or before December 19, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number [Docket No. FAA-
2011-0763; Notice No. 11-05] using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your 
comments electronically.
     Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. 
Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Room 
W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket 
Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 
New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.
    Privacy: The FAA will post all comments it receives, without 
change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information the commenter provides. Using the search function of the 
docket Web site, anyone can find and read the electronic form of all 
comments received into any FAA dockets, including the name of the 
individual sending the comment (or signing the comment for an 
association, business, labor union, etc.). DOT's complete Privacy Act 
Statement can be found in the Federal Register published on April 11, 
2000 (65 FR 19477-78), as well as at http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov.
    Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at  
http://www.regulations.gov at any time. Follow the online instructions 
for accessing the docket or Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the 
West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, 
DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions about this 
rulemaking action, contact Chris Parfitt, Flight Standards Service, 
Aircraft Maintenance Division--Avionics Maintenance Branch, AFS-360, 
Federal

[[Page 64860]]

Aviation Administration, 950 L'Enfant Plaza, SW., Washington, DC 20024; 
telephone (202) 385-6398; facsimile (202) 385-6474; e-mail 
chris.parfitt@faa.gov.
    For legal questions about this action, contact Viola Pando, Office 
of the Chief Counsel, Regulations Division--Policy and Adjudication 
Branch, AGC-210, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence 
Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 493-5293; e-mail 
viola.pando@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: See the ``Additional Information'' section 
for information on how to comment on this proposal and how the FAA will 
handle comments received. The ``Additional Information'' section also 
contains more information about the docket, privacy, and handling of 
proprietary or confidential business information. In addition, there is 
information on obtaining copies of related rulemaking documents.

Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in 
Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes 
the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation 
Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority.
    This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in 
Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Sec.  44701(a)(1), section 44703 
(a)(D), and section 44711(a)(2). In section 44701(a)(1), the FAA is 
charged with prescribing regulations and minimum standards in the 
interest of safety for and the manner of servicing of aircraft 
appliances. In section 44703(a)(D), the FAA is charged with specifying 
the capacity in which the holder of a certificate may serve as an 
airman with respect to an aircraft. Section 44711(a)(2) prohibits any 
person from serving in any capacity as an airman with respect to a 
civil aircraft, aircraft appliance used, or intended for use, in air 
commerce--without an airman certificate authorizing the airman to serve 
in the capacity for which the certificate was issued. This regulation 
is within the scope of the cited authority.

I. Overview of the Proposed Rule

    This rulemaking would allow pilots of all certificated aircraft 
equipped with self-contained, front-panel or pedestal-mounted 
navigational systems (``Nav-Systems'') to update the database. 
Currently, only pilots of aircraft operated under part 91 (general 
aviation) are allowed to perform the update. Nav-Systems provide many 
services for pilots, including navigational information for which 
accuracy of data is critical to the safe operation of an aircraft. 
Accuracy of navigational data is achieved by maintaining current data, 
which is ensured by performing database updates that are typically 
required every 28 days.
    Under the current regulations, except general aviation aircraft, 
updates to Nav-System databases must be performed by certificated 
mechanics and repair stations (``qualified personnel''). Consequently, 
if the database were to expire when the aircraft is not accessible to 
qualified personnel, the aircraft would have to be operated with an 
expired database, rerouted to the nearest repair station, or have a 
certificated mechanic transported to the aircraft to perform the 
update. Each of these options increase the workload for pilots and air 
traffic control (ATC), as well as increase the likelihood for data 
errors caused by pilots during manual input of data. These options also 
present increased operational costs.
    Changes to Nav-System design have made updating databases a simple 
procedure that any pilot can perform. The FAA established the 
requirement to have qualified personnel update Nav-System databases to 
address the complexity of older systems, for which a person needed 
training and specialized equipment and access to installed equipment to 
perform the update. Updating newer Nav-Systems is now a simple 
procedure that does not require special training or specialized 
equipment. Consequently, the safety concerns that existed when the 
current regulations were promulgated are no longer valid. We are 
therefore proposing to end the requirement for qualified personnel to 
perform database updates because the requirement no longer serves the 
purpose for which it was established.
    If adopted, this rulemaking would reduce workloads for pilots and 
ATC and reduce compliance-related operational costs. However, it also 
may have a negative economic impact on certificated mechanics and 
repair stations that currently perform required updates for affected 
operations. Aircraft operated under part 121 are less likely to be 
affected because they are not generally equipped with the Nav-Systems 
affected by this rulemaking, and they would therefore continue to 
require the services of qualified personnel.
    The FAA has preliminarily determined there would be minimal costs 
imposed by the proposed rule. In practice, the rule would simply allow 
the pilot to upload the current database rather than transporting a 
certificated mechanic to the aircraft, or flying the aircraft to a 
repair station. Benefits from this proposed rulemaking would include 
reduced workloads for pilots and ATC, as discussed below in the 
Background section. This proposed rulemaking would also reduce the 
potential for error in navigational data. In addition, the proposed 
rulemaking would foster practices that will contribute to the success 
of the Next Generation (NexGen) modernization of the National Aerospace 
System (NAS) as it is implemented, resulting in an overall increase in 
aviation safety.

II. Background

A. Statement of the Problem

    Currently, Sec.  43.3(g) and Appendix A, paragraph (c)(32) require 
that updates to databases for Nav-Systems installed on aircraft 
operated under parts 121, 125, 129, 133, 135, and 137 (``certificated 
operations'') must be performed by qualified personnel. Nav-Systems 
affected by this rulemaking could be easily updated using a simple 
procedure that pilots can perform without special training or 
specialized equipment. The requirement for qualified personnel to 
perform the update is therefore no longer necessary to ensure the 
update has been performed properly.
    A large percentage of aircraft used in certificated operations are 
equipped with fully integrated Nav-Systems that rely on data stored in 
ATC navigational databases. Data stored in a database serve various 
navigational functions. Those functions include providing coordinates 
for fixed points in the airspace or on the ground that are used for 
basic en route navigation, complex departure and arrival navigation, 
fuel planning, and precise vertical navigation. This data is updated by 
uploading a current database to the Nav-System, which can be done by 
inserting a data storage disc into a slot on a front-instrument panel 
or pedestal-mounted Nav-System, similar to inserting a memory card into 
a digital camera. Updates of navigation databases are typically 
required every 28 days.
    The regulatory requirement that allows only authorized mechanics 
and repair stations (hereafter referred to as ``qualified personnel'') 
to upload the most current data imposes a burden on the system in terms 
of workloads and demands on the National Airspace System (NAS). If the 
database expires when the aircraft is at a location where qualified 
personnel are not available to perform the update, the operator must: 
(1) Operate the aircraft with an expired database under the minimum

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equipment list (MEL) procedures, (2) reroute the aircraft to an 
authorized repair station, or (3) transport an authorized mechanic to 
the aircraft's location. The aircraft also can be flown with an expired 
navigational database under Minimum Equipment List (MEL) procedures, 
but doing so imposes more duties on the flightcrew and ATC. Each of 
these options presents safety concerns and increased operational costs.
    In addition, each of these options is problematic because they can 
increase the flightcrew's and ATC's workload when controlling the 
affected aircraft. Further, they are costly to the operator. This is 
particularly true for operations in remote areas. If the operator 
decides to move the aircraft to a repair station, the increased 
workload associated with rerouting the aircraft, for both flightcrew 
and ATC, requires planning an alternative flight route. Similarly, if 
the decision is to transport qualified personnel to the aircraft, the 
operator must locate personnel and schedule a flight to the aircraft. 
If the decision is to operate the aircraft with an expired database, in 
accordance with applicable regulations and operations specifications, 
among other tasks, the flightcrew must: (1) Verify fixes before 
dispatch, (2) verify navigational aid status and suitability for the 
flight route, and (3) advise ATC that published area navigational 
(RNAV) procedures, RNAV standard instrument departures, and RNAV 
airways cannot be used.
    RNAV terminal procedures authorizations and some RNAV route 
authorizations require a current navigational database. Those 
authorizations typically are denied to anyone operating with an expired 
database. This is significant because use of RNAV routes and procedures 
provide a safer, more efficient National Airspace System (NAS).
    Changes to the flightcrew's preflight procedures and to ATC duties 
add to already heavy workloads. ATC's workload is increased because it 
must assign alternate terminal RNAV procedures and other services to 
the affected flightcrew. In both cases, the rate of error can be 
increased either by pilot input of inaccurate data during verification, 
or by errors in ATC assignments which may occur during redirection of 
the flight. Both types of error have the potential to compromise 
aviation safety.
    The FAA is committed to increasing aviation safety and creating a 
more efficient NAS. To that end the FAA has targeted innovative 
navigational solutions that rely on Nav-Systems, which in turn are 
dependent on accurate and current databases. For instance, Required 
Navigation Performance (RNP), an important program for enhancing safety 
through establishing a high degree of precision air navigation, allows 
for more efficient use of the airspace. In addition, RNP assists in 
developing constant angle descent approaches, which increase safety 
during approach and landing. RNP operations rely on equipment and 
systems that depend on updateable databases for operational accuracy.
    The increasing use of Nav-Systems and the criticality of 
maintaining current databases for RNP operations under NexGen require 
that the two work seamlessly and impose no greater burden on the NAS 
than necessary.
    We have tentatively determined that the burdens attendant to 
compliance with current regulatory requirements for qualified personnel 
to perform database updates may no longer be justified. Developments in 
navigational system technology have made it possible for pilots to 
perform updates properly without special training or equipment. 
Therefore, a safety-related reason may no longer exist for continuing 
to require that mechanics and repair stations perform updates for 
modern Nav-Systems. Absent the safety concerns related to the 
complexity of updating an older navigational system that served as the 
impetus for the current requirements, there may no longer be reason to 
prohibit pilots from performing updates.

B. History

    Before 1996, the regulations categorized the task of updating any 
navigational system database as maintenance because these systems were 
large, complex, and installed on large transport category aircraft. The 
FAA required that qualified personnel perform the updates because doing 
so required special training and specialized equipment. By 1996, a 
second type of Nav-System was developed that was small, self-contained, 
and easily accessible. The newer Nav-System was targeted for use on 
general aviation aircraft because unlike older navigational systems, 
the new Nav-Systems introduced simple updating procedures that enabled 
any pilot to update a database without special training or equipment. 
The FAA addressed this improvement by amending the regulations.
    In 1996, the FAA amended Sec.  43.3 and Appendix A of Title 14, 
Code of Federal Regulations, part 43 (61 FR 19501, May 1, 1996). Among 
other actions, the amendment allowed owners and operators of general 
aviation aircraft to update easily updateable Nav-System databases. 
However, while the amendment allowed GA pilots to perform updates to 
Nav-Systems, it prohibited pilots of aircraft operated under parts 121, 
129, and 135 from updating databases on the older navigational systems. 
For these operations, the task of updating databases was categorized as 
maintenance.
    Unlike the older systems, the FAA allowed pilots of smaller general 
aviation aircraft to perform updates to Nav-System databases because 
the systems were not similar to those installed on aircraft operated 
under parts 121, 129, and 135. Newer Nav-Systems were self-contained, 
easily accessible and updated, compact devices. Conversely, 
navigational systems installed on aircraft operating under parts 121, 
129, and 135 were more complex. Those Nav-Systems were frequently 
composed of two hardware components. One was a central data storage/
processing unit (CPU), which was installed in a location remote from 
the second piece of hardware. The other was the Control Display Unit 
(CDU), which was installed in the cockpit. Updating the more complex 
systems requires that qualified personnel use specialized equipment to 
upload the new data into the CPU.
    Since then, the number of newer self-contained Nav-Systems 
installed on most non-transport category aircraft has increased. 
Updating a Nav-System database is as simple as inserting a memory card 
into a digital camera, with automatic verification to the pilot that 
the update has been successful occurring via display of the update's 
revision number on the CDU.

III. Discussion of the Proposal

    The FAA proposes to amend Sec.  43.3 to allow pilots of aircraft 
operated under parts 121, 125, 133, 135, and 137 (``certificated 
operations'') to update Nav-System databases. The task of updating a 
Nav-System is currently categorized as preventive maintenance under 
part 43, Appendix A, paragraph (c)(32). As such, Sec.  43.3, which 
prescribes who may perform maintenance, requires that it be performed 
by a certificated mechanic or repair station unless that preventive 
maintenance, as specifically enumerated in Appendix A, ``may be 
performed by the holder of a pilot certificate issued under part 61 on 
an aircraft owned or operated by that pilot which is not used under 
part 121, 129, or 135 * * *'' (emphasis added).
    This proposal would extend authorization for pilots on all

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certificated operations to perform Nav-System database updates. The FAA 
has determined that the ease of successfully updating modern Nav-
Systems remains the same regardless of the regulatory part under which 
the aircraft is operated.
    We are proposing to remove paragraph (c)(32) from part 43, Appendix 
A, which will remove from the preventive maintenance category the task 
of updating ``* * * self-contained front-instrument panel and pedestal-
mounted air traffic control (ATC) navigational software databases 
(excluding those of automatic flight control systems, transponders, and 
microwave frequency distance measuring equipment (DME)), provided no 
disassembly of the unit is required and pertinent instructions are 
provided.'' The effect of removing paragraph (c)(32) will be to allow 
pilots to update Nav-System databases.
    Note that the regulatory text refers to the newer systems targeted 
by this rulemaking as navigational systems. For purposes of discussion, 
in this preamble, we have used the term ``navigational system'' to 
refer to older systems, and ``Nav-System'' to refer to the newer 
systems targeted by this rulemaking.
    The FAA has considered two alternatives to this proposed 
rulemaking. One alternative was to continue to require that qualified 
personnel perform updates to Nav-System databases installed on 
certificated operations. The FAA has tentatively rejected this 
alternative for three reasons. First, the original reasons for creating 
the requirement appear to have been invalidated by technology. Second, 
eliminating the existing requirements for qualified personnel to 
perform the update will reduce pilot and ATC workloads and reduce the 
likelihood that pilots will input inaccurate data into the Nav-System. 
The cumulative effect of reduced workloads and elimination of data 
errors ultimately would improve aviation safety. Third, the costs 
imposed on operators to ensure compliance with the existing 
requirements may no longer be justified now that special training and 
equipment is not required, and safety would not be compromised by 
allowing pilots to perform the update.
    The second alternative considered was continuing to use the 
exemption process as need is demonstrated by operators to enable pilots 
of aircraft not operated under part 91 to update Nav-System databases. 
However, this approach would not reduce the numerous petitions for 
exemption submitted for aircraft operations conducted under parts 121, 
129, and 135, which would force the FAA to continue processing an 
excessive number of exemptions with a limited workforce, thus requiring 
the agency use valuable manpower for administrative purposes. Finally, 
the cumulative effect of granting large numbers of petitions for 
exemption from the same regulation for the same reason(s) would be the 
equivalent of rulemaking by exemption.
    For the reasons cited above, the FAA has determined that amending 
the regulations to allow pilots on any certificated aircraft equipped 
with a specified Nav-System to update databases would improve aviation 
safety, would be economically beneficial to operators, and would enable 
the FAA to use manpower in areas of greater need.

IV. Regulatory Notices and Analyses

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires 
that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information 
collection burdens imposed on the public. The FAA has determined that 
there would be no new requirement for information collection associated 
with this proposed rule.

International Compatibility

    In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on 
International Civil Aviation, it is FAA policy to comply with 
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and 
Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. The FAA has 
reviewed the corresponding ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices and 
has identified no differences with these regulations.

Regulatory Evaluation, Regulatory Flexibility Determination, 
International Trade Impact Assessment, and Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct that each 
Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned 
determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its 
costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) 
requires agencies to analyze the economic impact of regulatory changes 
on small entities. Third, the Trade Agreements Act (Pub. L. 96-39) 
prohibits agencies from setting standards that create unnecessary 
obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States. In developing 
U.S. standards, this Trade Act requires agencies to consider 
international standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis 
of U.S. standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 
(Pub. L. 104-4) requires agencies to prepare a written assessment of 
the costs, benefits, and other effects of proposed or final rules that 
include a federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by state, 
local, or Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private 
sector, of $100 million or more annually (adjusted for inflation with 
base year of 1995). This portion of the preamble summarizes the FAA's 
analysis of the economic impacts of this proposed rule.
    In conducting these analyses, FAA has determined that this proposed 
rule: (1) Has benefits that justify its costs, (2) is not an 
economically ``significant regulatory action'' as defined in section 
3(f) of Executive Order 12866, (3) is not ``significant'' as defined in 
DOT's Regulatory Policies and Procedures, (4) would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
(5) would not create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of 
the United States, and (6) would not impose an unfunded mandate on 
state, local, or Tribal governments, or on the private sector by 
exceeding the threshold identified above.
    Department of Transportation Order DOT 2100.5 prescribes policies 
and procedures for simplification, analysis, and review of regulations. 
If the expected cost impact is so minimal that a proposed or final rule 
does not warrant a full evaluation, this order allows that a statement 
to that effect and the basis for it to be included in the preamble if a 
full regulatory evaluation of the cost and benefits is not prepared. 
Such a determination has been made for this proposed rule. The 
reasoning for this determination follows:
    The proposed rule would reduce costs to certificated operators by 
allowing their pilots to update databases for self-contained navigation 
systems installed either in the front panel or pedestal-mounted in the 
cockpit. Allowing pilots to perform the updates would occasionally save 
the operator the expense of either a positioning flight to a repair 
station or transporting a certificated mechanic to the aircraft to 
perform the database update.
    The FAA has, therefore, determined that this proposed rule is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' as defined in section 3(f) of 
Executive Order 12866, and this proposed rule is not ``significant'' as 
defined in DOT's Regulatory Policies and Procedures.

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Total Estimated Benefits and Costs of This Final Rule
    There would be two general benefits from this proposed rule. The 
primary benefit would be that affected aircraft operators would no 
longer operate aircraft without the most current navigational data. As 
previously discussed, the use of Nav-Systems improves safety by 
providing the pilot with accurate navigational information, by 
increasing access to airports under less than optimal flight 
conditions, by increasing workforce efficiency and by encouraging a 
more efficient use of the navigable airspace system. Nav-System 
database software is updated every 28 days, a recurring task that 
cannot always be accomplished within the prescribed timeframe due to 
the unavailability of qualified personnel. Increasing airspace 
congestion as well as the increasing number of non-Part 91 aircraft 
that are equipped with Nav-Systems magnifies the importance for Nav-
Systems to be operating with the most current data. Further, the FAA 
knows of no accidents or incidents attributable to pilot error when 
part 91 pilots updated navigational database software.
    The second benefit would be potential cost savings. Allowing pilots 
to update Nav-System databases for aircraft used on certificated 
operations would eliminate costs associated with positioning flights to 
a repair station or transporting a certificated mechanic to the 
aircraft. Estimates from an industry source indicate that the cost of a 
single positioning flight could range between $1,000 and $2,500 and 
that, depending upon the circumstances, the cost to transport a 
certified mechanic to an aircraft are similar. The FAA does not have an 
estimate of the number of times an aircraft with an expiring database 
would require one of these actions to occur. As such, the FAA cannot 
estimate a total potential cost-savings from this proposed rule because 
the annual savings would depend upon how often these aircraft encounter 
expired database conditions and whether the aircraft is flown to a 
repair station or whether a mechanic is transported to the aircraft.
    The FAA requests comments on the number of positioning flights 
conducted annually for the purpose of updating a database and the 
average cost of such a flight, or, alternatively, the costs of 
transporting mechanics to the aircraft. Further, for those situations 
where the aircraft is operated with an expired database, an estimate of 
pilot time expended manually checking database information for 
accuracy.
    This proposed rule is cost-relieving because an operator would be 
able to choose a pilot or a mechanic to upload data into navigational 
systems, whereas today, only a certificated mechanic or a repair 
station can perform the upload.
Who is potentially affected by this rule?
    This proposed rule would affect all operators of certificated 
aircraft equipped with self-contained, front-instrument panel or 
pedestal-mounted navigational equipment. Large transport category 
airplanes generally operated under Part 121 and manufactured by Boeing, 
Airbus, McDonnell-Douglas, Bombardier, and Embraer are equipped with 
larger and more sophisticated navigational systems that would not be 
affected by the proposed rulemaking. Based on a preliminary review, the 
FAA has determined that there are no aircraft currently operated under 
parts 121 and 129 that are equipped with the Nav-Systems targeted by 
this rulemaking. We request comments on this determination.
    The avionics equipment for many smaller aircraft used in part 135 
operations are in self-contained, front-instrument panel or pedestal-
mounted units. However, this is optional equipment, and older aircraft 
may not have it. Many of these aircraft are operated under part 91, and 
pilots operating under part 91 are currently allowed to upload these 
software updates in these aircraft.
Assumptions and Sources of Information
    The primary sources of information were a part 135 operator that 
would be affected by the proposed rule and an aircraft electronics 
association representative.
Costs of This Proposed Rule
    The FAA has preliminarily determined that there would be minimal 
costs imposed by the proposed rule because it would simply allow a 
pilot to upload the current Nav-System database that currently must be 
performed by a certificated mechanic or in a repair station. Thus, 
instead of having to call out a certificated mechanic or repair 
station, or even fly the aircraft to a certificated mechanic or repair 
station, the pilot could perform the update before the next flight. 
Time spent by the pilot uploading the current database software and 
completing the required records would be part of the pilot's flight 
duty time for which the pilot would not receive additional 
compensation.
    Although the pilot would need to complete the paperwork 
demonstrating that the update had been performed, without the rule 
change, a certificated mechanic or repair station would still be 
required to complete the same paperwork.
    However, the FAA anticipates that the majority of these updates 
would continue to be completed by a certificated mechanic or repair 
station as part of the standard maintenance that the aircraft would 
undergo.
Benefits of This Proposed Rule
    The Nav-System databases must be updated every 28 days. For certain 
part 135 operators, there may be situations when the aircraft is being 
operated in remote areas and may not be scheduled to return to the home 
base for several days. Under those circumstances and the current rule, 
the part 135 operator would either have to make a positioning flight to 
the home base or to a repair station or transport a certificated 
mechanic to the aircraft. Estimates from an industry source indicate 
that the cost of a single positioning flight could range between $1,000 
and $2,500 and that, depending upon the circumstances, the cost to 
transport a certified mechanic to an aircraft are similar.

Regulatory Flexibility Determination

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) (RFA) 
establishes ``as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall 
endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable 
statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale 
of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions 
subject to regulation. To achieve this principle, agencies are required 
to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain 
the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals are given 
serious consideration.'' The RFA covers a wide-range of small entities, 
including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and small 
governmental jurisdictions.
    Agencies must perform a review to determine whether a proposed rule 
would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. If the agency determines that it would, the agency must 
prepare an initial regulatory flexibility analysis as described in the 
RFA. However, if an agency determines that a proposed rule is not 
expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number 
of small entities, section 605(b) of the RFA provides that the head of 
the agency may so certify and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required. The certification must include a statement providing the 
factual basis for this

[[Page 64864]]

determination, and the reasoning should be clear.
    The net effect of this proposed rule would be to provide regulatory 
cost relief. As this proposed rule would reduce costs for small 
entities, the FAA certifies that this proposed rule would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

International Trade Impact Assessment

    The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39), as amended by the 
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (Pub. L. 103-465), prohibits Federal 
agencies from establishing standards or engaging in related activities 
that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United 
States. Pursuant to these Acts, the establishment of standards is not 
considered an unnecessary obstacle to the foreign commerce of the 
United States, so long as the standard has a legitimate domestic 
objective, such as protection of safety, and does not operate in a 
manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. The statute also 
requires consideration of international standards and, where 
appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. standards. We assessed the 
potential effect of this proposed rule and determined that it would not 
constitute an obstacle to the foreign commerce of the United States, 
and, thus, is consistent with the Trade Assessments Act.

Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-
4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement 
assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final 
agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more 
(adjusted annually for inflation with the base year 1995) in any one 
year by state, local, and Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by 
the private sector; such a mandate is deemed to be a ``significant 
regulatory action.'' The FAA currently uses an inflation-adjusted value 
of $140.8 million in lieu of $100 million. This proposed rule does not 
contain such a mandate; therefore, the requirements of Title II do not 
apply to this proposal.

Environmental Analysis

    FAA Order 1050.1E identifies FAA actions that are categorically 
excluded from preparation of an environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy 
Act in the absence of extraordinary circumstances. The FAA has 
determined this rulemaking action qualifies for the categorical 
exclusion identified in paragraph 312(f) of the Order and involves no 
extraordinary circumstances.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The FAA has analyzed this proposed rule under the principles and 
criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. The agency has 
determined that this action would not have a substantial direct effect 
on the States, or the relationship between the Federal Government and 
the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among 
the various levels of government, and, therefore, would not have 
Federalism implications.

Executive Order 13211, Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy 
Supply, Distribution, or Use

    The FAA analyzed this proposed rule under Executive Order 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use (May 18, 2001). The agency has determined that it 
would not be a ``significant energy action'' under the executive order 
and would not be likely to have a significant adverse effect on the 
supply, distribution, or use of energy.

VI. Additional Information

A. Comments Invited

    The FAA invites interested persons to participate in this 
rulemaking by submitting written comments, data, or views. The agency 
also invites comments relating to the economic, environmental, energy, 
or federalism impacts that might result from adopting the proposals in 
this document. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion 
of the proposal, explain the reason for any recommended change, and 
include supporting data. To ensure the docket does not contain 
duplicate comments, commenters should send only one copy of written 
comments, or if comments are filed electronically, commenters should 
submit only one time.
    The FAA will file in the docket all comments it receives, as well 
as a report summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA 
personnel about this proposed rulemaking. Before acting on this 
proposal, the FAA will consider all comments it receives on or before 
the closing date for comments. The FAA will consider comments filed 
after the comment period has closed if it is possible to do so without 
incurring expense or delay. The agency may change this proposal in 
light of the comments it receives.
    Proprietary or Confidential Business Information: Commenters should 
not file proprietary or confidential business information in the 
docket. Such information must be sent or delivered directly to the 
person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of 
this document, and marked as proprietary or confidential. If submitting 
information on a disc or Compact Disc Read-Only Memory (CD-ROM), mark 
the outside of the disc or CD-ROM, and identify electronically within 
the disc or CD-ROM the specific information that is proprietary or 
confidential.
    Under 14 CFR 11.35(b), if the FAA is aware of proprietary 
information filed with a comment, the agency does not place it in the 
docket. It is held in a separate file to which the public does not have 
access, and the FAA places a note in the docket that it has received 
it. If the FAA receives a request to examine or copy this information, 
it treats it as any other request under the Freedom of Information Act 
(5 U.S.C. 552). The FAA processes such a request under Department of 
Transportation procedures found in 49 CFR part 7.

B. Availability of Rulemaking Documents

    An electronic copy of rulemaking documents may be obtained from the 
Internet by--
    1. Searching the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
    2. Visiting the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies; or
    3. Accessing the Government Printing Office's Web page at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.
    Copies may also be obtained by sending a request to the Federal 
Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence 
Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680. 
Commenters must identify the docket or notice number of this 
rulemaking.
    All documents the FAA considered in developing this proposed rule, 
including economic analyses and technical reports, may be accessed from 
the Internet through the Federal eRulemaking Portal referenced in item 
(1) above.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 43

    Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

The Proposed Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration

[[Page 64865]]

proposes to amend part 43 of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, as 
follows:

PART 43--MAINTENANCE, PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE, REBUILDING, AND 
ALTERATION

    1. The authority citation for part 43 continues to read as follows:

     Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701, 44703, 44705, 
44707, 44711, 44713, 44717, 44725.

    2. Amend Sec.  43.3 by adding paragraph (k) to read as follows:


Sec.  43.3  Persons authorized to perform maintenance, preventive 
maintenance, rebuilding, and alterations.

* * * * *
    (k) The holder of a pilot certificate issued under part 61 of this 
chapter may perform updating of self-contained, front-instrument panel-
mounted and pedestal-mounted air traffic control (ATC) navigational 
system databases (excluding those of automatic flight control systems, 
transponders, and microwave frequency distance measuring equipment 
(DME), and any updates that affect system operating software) 
provided--
    (1) No disassembly of the unit is required;
    (2) The pilot has written procedures available to perform and 
evaluate the accomplishment of the task; and
    (3) The database is contained in a field-loadable configuration and 
imaged on a medium, such as a Compact Disc Read-Only Memory (CD-ROM), 
Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory (SDRAM), or other non- 
volatile memory that contains database files that are non-corruptible 
upon loading, and where integrity of the load can be assured and 
verified by the pilot upon completing the loading sequences.
    (4) Records of when such database uploads have occurred, the 
revision number of the software, and who performed the upload must be 
maintained.
    (5) The data to be uploaded must not contain system operating 
software revisions.

Appendix A to Part 43 [Amended]

    3. Amend Appendix A to part 43 by removing paragraph (c)(32).

    Issued in Washington, DC, on August 31, 2011.
John W. McGraw,
Deputy Director, Flights Standards Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-27036 Filed 10-18-11; 8:45 am]
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