[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 53 (Tuesday, March 19, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 16779-16780]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-06306]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 21

[Docket No. FAA-2001-8994; Amdt. No. 21-96]
RIN 2120-AK19


Type Certification Procedures for Changed Products

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final rule; disposition of comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: On December 4, 2012, the FAA published a final rule; request 
for comments (77 FR 71691) to make the existing regulation consistent 
with the FAA's intent and with the certification practice both before 
and after the adoption of the existing rule. The 2012 final rule 
clarifies what an applicant must show regarding a ``changed product'' 
to comply with applicable standards and became effective on February 4, 
2013. We sought public comment on that final rule even though it is 
only clarifying in nature. This action responds to the public comments 
the FAA received.

ADDRESSES: You may review the public docket for this rulemaking (Docket 
No. FAA-2001-8994) at the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 of 
the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590-0001 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays. You may also review the public docket 
on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning 
this action, contact Victor Powell, Certification Procedures Office 
(AIR-110), Aircraft Certification Service, Federal Aviation 
Administration, 950 L'Enfant Plaza SW., Washington, DC 20024; telephone 
(202) 385-6326; email victor.powell@faa.gov, or Randall Petersen, 
Certification Procedures Office (AIR-110), Aircraft Certification 
Service, Federal Aviation Administration, 950 L'Enfant Plaza SW., 
Washington, DC 20024; telephone (202) 385-6325, email 
randall.petersen@faa.gov.
    For legal questions concerning this action, contact Douglas 
Anderson, Northwest Mountain Region--Deputy Regional Counsel (ANM-7), 
Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration Northwest 
Mountain Regional Office, 1601 Lind Ave. SW., Renton, WA 98057; 
telephone (425) 227-2166; facsimile (425) 227-1007; email 
douglas.anderson@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On June 7, 2000, the FAA published a final rule entitled, ``Type 
Certification Procedures for Changed Products'' (65 FR 36244). In that 
final rule, the FAA revised the procedural requirements for the 
certification of changes to type-certificated products. The revision 
required the applicant to apply the latest airworthiness standards in 
effect, to the extent practical, for the certification of significant 
design changes of aircraft, aircraft engines, and propellers. Before 
this final rule, many changes to aeronautical products were not 
required to show compliance with the latest airworthiness standards. 
This final rule was needed because incremental design approval changes 
accumulated into significant differences from the original product. 
Also, the final rule was intended to expand under what conditions the 
latest airworthiness amendments needed to be applied to changes to 
aeronautical products.
    To clarify what the 2000 final rule intended, the FAA published a 
final rule; request for comments also entitled, ``Type Certification 
Procedures for Changed Products'' (December 4, 2012, 77 FR 71691). The 
2000 final rule requires an applicant to show that the ``changed 
product'' complies with applicable standards. The purpose of Sec.  
21.101 is to require an applicant to evaluate the proposed design 
change and its effect on the product rather than the re-evaluation 
(certification) of the entire changed product. Therefore, Sec.  21.101 
was amended in the 2012 final rule to replace ``changed product'' with 
``change and areas affected by the change'' to accurately limit the 
scope of compliance responsibility for the applicant. That change was 
also made in Sec.  21.97 for the same reason. The intended effect of 
the 2012 final rule is to make the applicable requirements

[[Page 16780]]

consistent with the FAA's intent and with the certification practice 
both before and after the adoption of the 2000 final rule.

Discussion of Comments

    Two comments were received in the docket during the comment period 
for this final rule. The Boeing Company expressed concern with a 
possible increase in administrative burden of establishing the 
certification basis for changes it believes are significant at the 
product level. Transport Canada (TCCA) commented that it believes the 
final rule changes the significance of the assessment of the design 
change level relative to the entire product.
    Boeing provided recommendations for changes to the preamble to the 
final rule regarding Sec.  21.101 and to the final rule in general that 
it believes will reestablish and clarify the original intent of the 
regulation and concerns regarding the associated administrative burden 
to applicants. The FAA has considered Boeing's concerns and has 
determined that Boeing's recommendations need to be further evaluated 
before adoption. The FAA believes the original intent of the 2012 final 
rule as published is acceptable for clarifying an applicant's 
responsibility for showing compliance for the change and the areas 
affected by the change.
    TCCA suggested that the final rule now has the unintended 
consequence of allowing a design change to be evaluated at an area, 
system, component, equipment, or appliance level only, rather than at 
the product level. TCCA further suggested that the final rule may lead 
to an interpretation that multiple design changes could now be 
evaluated individually for their significance, instead of their total 
effect on the product. TCCA believes the final rule will put into 
question the interpretation of what a significant change is and 
recommends that the FAA reconsider the rendering of the final rule. 
TCCA noted that implementation of the final rule may disrupt the 
harmonized implementation of pertinent regulations and guidance 
material.
    The FAA agrees that the evaluation of a proposed design change 
needs to be at the product level and considered the effect of the final 
rule as it applied to product level and the evaluation of changes. 
However, it appears TCCA may have misunderstood the purpose and effect 
of the amendment and, as a result, conflated two separate issues. The 
first issue is the scope of the requirement of Sec.  21.101 to show 
compliance. Prior to the amendment, Sec.  21.101(a) required that the 
``changed product'' must be shown to meet applicable requirements in 
effect on the date of application. ``Product'' is defined in Sec.  21.1 
to mean ``aircraft, aircraft engine, or propeller.'' Taken literally, 
the scope of the requirement to show compliance was the entire product, 
including the applicant's proposed change. In practice, applicants do 
not show that the entire product complies with applicable requirements; 
their compliance showings, and the FAA's findings, relate only to the 
proposed change and the areas affected by the change. The purpose of 
this amendment is simply to conform the wording of the rule to this 
long-standing practice.
    The second issue is what requirements are applicable. Prior to this 
amendment, Sec.  21.101(b) and (c) allowed the compliance showing to be 
made to earlier versions of the latest requirements if certain 
conditions are met. However, taken literally, these exceptions still 
required that the applicant show that the entire product complies at 
least with earlier versions of those requirements. Limiting the scope 
of this requirement eliminates the literal requirement to show 
compliance for areas not affected by the change.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Even within ``areas affected by the change,'' there may be 
an ``area, system, component, equipment, or appliance'' that is not 
affected. Section 21.101(b)(2) allows applicants to show that these 
meet the requirements of earlier amendments. For example, in the 
preamble to the final rule, we cited the following example of 
``areas affected by the change'': ``changing an airframe's 
structure, such as adding a cargo door in one location, may affect 
the frame or floor loading in another area.'' But even within these 
broad areas, an applicant may be able to show that certain portions 
of the area are not affected (e.g., wiring in the area may not be 
affected). As another example, if a passenger seat fitting is 
changed, the structure of the seat is affected, and thus Sec. Sec.  
25.561 and 25.562 would need to be addressed (and probably some 
other structural requirements). However, the seat fabric is not 
affected, so Sec.  25.853 would not need to be addressed. This would 
allow the applicant to show that these sub-areas meet earlier 
versions of the applicable amendments.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However, nothing in this amendment changes the exceptions in Sec.  
21.101(b) and (c) or the policies that have been developed for applying 
them. For example, the harmonized policy for determining whether a 
change is ``significant'' is that this evaluation is done at the 
``product level.'' Under this amendment, this policy is unchanged. 
Similarly, precisely identifying the scope of an applicant's obligation 
to show compliance does not affect the existing requirement of Sec.  
21.101(b)(1) that significance be evaluated in context with all 
previous relevant design changes. We continue to agree with TCCA's view 
that ``the contribution to safety and practicality principles of 14 CFR 
21.101 are intended to target a measurable benefit at a product 
level.''
    The FAA finds that the original intent of the existing changed 
product final rule to apply to the evaluation of the change's 
particular effect on the total product level is maintained with this 
final rule. This rule is consistent with the preamble's goals and 
published guidance and is implemented as published on December 4, 2012.

Conclusion

    After analyzing the comments submitted in response to this final 
rule, the FAA has determined that further revisions to it are 
unnecessary at this time. This determination is based on our finding 
that this final rule is necessary because it addresses the concern that 
the wording of the requirement in the 2000 rule for a compliance 
showing was too broad for an applicant for a major design change. 
Again, this rulemaking only clarifies the original intent of the 2000 
final rule and makes the applicable requirements reflect the reality of 
existing practice. This rulemaking is not a departure from or addition 
to what is already being done by an applicant for a compliance showing 
to the FAA in this regard.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on March 4, 2013.
Frank P. Paskiewicz,
Deputy Director, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-06306 Filed 3-18-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P