[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 36 (Friday, February 22, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 12254-12255]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-03709]



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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Parts 27 and 29


Interest in Restructure of Rotorcraft Airworthiness Standards

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requesting 
comments and information on the public's interest in restructuring the 
rotorcraft airworthiness standards of normal category rotorcraft and 
transport category rotorcraft. Specifically, the agency is seeking 
comments on whether to change the existing applicability standards for 
maximum weight and number of passenger seats for either or both types 
of rotorcraft, or whether to consider other approaches for determining 
applicability. The FAA is soliciting public input because of some 
rotorcraft community interest in increasing the 7,000 pound maximum 
weight limit for the modern normal category rotorcraft and because 
there may be recommendations for new approaches to make the rotorcraft 
airworthiness standards more efficient and adaptable to future 
technology. This action is part of an effort to develop recommendations 
for possible FAA rulemaking action.

DATES: Send your comments to reach us on or before May 23, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2013-0144 
using any of the following methods:
    [square] Federal eRegulations Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov, use the search function to locate the docket 
number, and follow the online instructions for sending your comments 
electronically.
    [square] 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.
    [square] Hand Delivery: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room 
W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m., and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.
    [square] 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 docket, 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 19477-19478), as well as at http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov.
    Docket: Comments received can be seen at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for accessing the 
docket or go to the 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: FAA, Rotorcraft Directorate, 
Regulations and Policy Group (Attn: John Vanhoudt, ASW-111), 2601 
Meacham Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas 76137; telephone (817) 222-5167; 
facsimile (817) 222-5961; or email john.vanhoudt@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Your Comments Are Welcome

    We invite your comments on the issues described in this request. 
The most useful comments are those that address the questions 
identified in the Request for Comments section below. Responses to 
these questions will be helpful in evaluating the issues and 
determining what future actions we should undertake.
    To ensure consideration, you must submit comments as specified 
under the ADDRESSES section of this preamble. We will consider all 
communications received on or before the closing date for comments. All 
comments submitted will be available for examination, both before and 
after the closing date for comments, under the docket number FAA-2013-
0144 at http://www.regulations.gov.

Background and Discussion

    Currently, the applicability rule for part 27 (14 CFR 27.1) 
prescribes airworthiness standards for ``normal category rotorcraft 
with maximum weights of 7,000 pounds or less and nine or less passenger 
seats.'' Rotorcraft with a maximum weight greater than 7,000 pounds or 
with 10 or more passenger seats are certificated as transport category 
rotorcraft under part 29.
    The applicability rules for rotorcraft certificated under parts 27 
and 29 have been discussed since the early 1990s. In February 1994, the 
FAA held a public meeting to determine a course of action that was in 
the best interest of the public and the aviation community. 
Subsequently, an Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee working group 
was established with representatives from the FAA, the Joint Aviation 
Authorities, and Transport Canada Civil Aviation, as well as from U.S. 
and European helicopter manufacturers. In February 1995, the Rotorcraft 
Gross Weight and Passenger Issues Working Group was established and 
tasked with recommending new or revised requirements for increasing the 
gross weight and passenger limitations for normal category rotorcraft. 
There was agreement to increase the gross weight limitation of part 27 
from 6,000 to 7,000 pounds with added passenger safety requirements.
    More recently we have recognized that the evolution of the part 27 
and 29 rules has not kept pace with technology and the capability of 
newer rotorcraft. Therefore, the FAA is interested in investigating new 
approaches to make the rotorcraft airworthiness regulations more 
efficient and adaptable to future technology. Additionally, the FAA has 
found that without a rulemaking effort to extensively revise the 
rotorcraft standards, we are left with the option of issuing multiple 
special conditions for the same technologies (fly-by-wire flight 
control systems, search and rescue approach, etc.).
    If we find adequate interest from the rotorcraft community, we 
would consider initiating a rulemaking effort, similar in scope to the 
proposed revisions of the small airplane part 23 standards. The new 
part 23 rulemaking initiative resulted from a determination that 
applying a weight standard to certification for small aircraft was no 
longer relevant. Conversely, if the level of interest indicates the 
current standards remain appropriate but would benefit from some 
revision, we may undertake a smaller rulemaking effort to update a 
limited number of regulations in parts 27 and 29.

Request for Comments

    As noted above, the FAA is seeking comments to determine whether an 
all new approach for parts 27 and 29 is appropriate for future 
rotorcraft airworthiness standards and safety levels, or whether the 
existing standards philosophy based on weight (currently 7,000 pound 
maximum for part 27) and maximum number of passengers (currently 
maximum of 9 passengers for part 27) is appropriate. In providing your 
comments, we would find it most useful if you address some or all of 
the following questions:

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    (a) To what extent do you believe the current rotorcraft 
certification standards need to be amended to remain relevant over the 
next 20 years, given the rapid pace of advances in technology?
    (b) Should the current rotorcraft certification standards be 
completely changed, or are weight and number of passengers still 
relevant for determining certification?
    (c) If you believe certification should continue to be based on 
weight and number of passengers, to what extent should the existing 
standards be updated, and how?
    (d) As revisions to regulatory certification standards would 
require participation in a rulemaking committee over a substantial 
period of time, to what extent would you be willing to participate?
    As a convenience, these questions are available for submission in 
the same format as above at the following Web site link: http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/design_approvals/rotorcraft/comm.
    If the FAA decides to have further rulemaking discussions on these 
issues, we will issue a document, giving the public another opportunity 
to comment.

    Issued in Fort Worth, TX, on February 8, 2013.
Kimberly K. Smith,
Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-03709 Filed 2-21-13; 8:45 am]
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