[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 1 (Thursday, January 2, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 20-22]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-31094]


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

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Parts 61 and 141

[Docket No.: FAA-2013-0809]


Notice of Policy Change for the Use of FAA Approved Training 
Devices

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Policy statement.

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

SUMMARY: The notification provides information and guidance concerning 
the use of FAA approved ground trainers, Personal Computer Aviation 
Training Device's (PCATD), Flight Training Devices (FTD) level 1-3, and 
Aviation Training Devices (ATD).

[[Page 21]]


DATES: Effective Date: The policy described herein is effective 
February 3, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning 
this policy notice, contact AFS-810, Airmen Certification and Training 
Branch, 800 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20591 202-385-9600

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Since the 1970s, the FAA has gradually expanded the use of flight 
simulation for training--first permitting simulation to be used in air 
carrier training programs and eventually permitting pilots to credit 
time in devices toward the aeronautical experience requirements for 
certification and recency. Currently, Title 14 of the Code of Federal 
Regulations (14 CFR) part 60 governs the qualification of full flight 
simulators and flight training devices (levels 4 through 7). The FAA 
has, however, approved other devices for use in certification training 
under the authority provided in 14 CFR 61.4(c).
    For over 30 years, the FAA has issued Letters of Authorization 
(LOAs) to manufacturers of ground trainers, personal computer-based 
aviation training devices (PCATD), FTDs (levels 1 through 3), basic 
aviation training devices (BATD), and advanced aviation training 
devices (AATD). These LOAs were based on guidance provided in advisory 
circulars that set forth the qualifications and capabilities for the 
devices. Prior to 2008, most LOAs were issued under the guidance 
provided in advisory circular AC 61-126, Qualification and Approval of 
Personal Computer-Based Aviation Training Devices, and AC 120-45, 
Airplane Flight Training Device Qualification. Since July 2008, the FAA 
has been approving devices in accordance with Advisory Circular 61-136, 
FAA Approval of Basic Aviation Training Devices (BATD) and Advanced 
Aviation Training Devices (AATD).
    Generally, the LOAs that have been issued list the approved uses 
for the devices with specific regulatory references. Several of these 
regulations have changed over the years, and some approved uses are no 
longer permissible.\1\ In addition, the majority of these LOAs were 
issued to manufacturers without a specific expiration date. The LOAs 
simply placed obligations on the manufacturer and the eventual operator 
of the device to ensure that the device was properly maintained and 
that annual reports were submitted to the FAA regarding the status and 
continued use of the device. It is unclear the extent that these 
reporting requirements have been satisfied. Moreover, devices approved 
prior to July 2008 have not been assessed under the most current 
guidance provided in AC 61-136.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Some of these devices at one time were approved for 
practical tests for pilot certification and ratings. However, 
because these trainers are not tested to the levels of fidelity 
required for FFSs and FTDs, they are no longer listed in the PTS for 
use during testing. Specifically, level 1-3 flight training devices 
have been removed from the task table in each PTS.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In 2009, the FAA issued a final rule that placed express limits on 
the amount of instrument training in an ATD that could be credited 
toward the aeronautical experience requirements for an instrument 
rating. 74 FR 42500 (Aug. 21, 2009). Under Sec.  61.65(i), no more than 
10 hours of instrument time received in an ATD may be credited toward 
instrument time requirements of that section. Likewise, appendix C to 
part 141 states that credit for instrument training in an ATD cannot 
exceed 10% of the total flight training hour requirements of an 
approved course.
    The FAA has determined that it may not use LOAs as a means to 
exceed express limits that have been placed in the regulations through 
notice and comment rulemaking. As such, any LOAs for new devices that 
the FAA has issued since August 2013 reflect current regulatory 
requirements. Because, however, manufacturers and operators who hold 
LOAs issued prior to August 2013, have acted in reliance on FAA 
statements that were inconsistent with the regulations, the FAA is 
granting a limited exemption from the requirement in the regulations to 
provide manufacturers, operators, and pilots currently training for an 
instrument rating time to adjust to the reduction in hours. This short-
term exemption will provide an interim period to transition the LOAs 
for currently approved devices in accordance with this policy.\2\ This 
exemption is in the public interest because it will prevent undue harm 
caused by reasonable reliance on FAA statements.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ The FAA is granting an exemption from Sec.  61.65(i) for 
pilots applying for an instrument rating who have received training 
from a training provider who operates an ATD under the reduced 
training hours. The FAA is also granting an exemption to training 
providers from appendix C to part 141 to permit them to continue to 
train during the transition period under training programs with more 
than 10% of the training time in ATDs.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, the FAA notes that, notwithstanding any statements in 
existing LOAs, only FFS and FTDs levels 4-7 approved under part 60 may 
be used during a practical test as noted in the appropriate Practical 
Test Standards (PTS) for the certificate or rating sought. The current 
PTSs reflect that no portion of a practical test may be conducted in an 
ATD.

Policy

    Due to regulatory changes, new standards for qualifying aviation 
training devices, and ongoing improvements in technology, the FAA has 
determined that it is necessary to ensure all approved devices meet 
current standards contained in AC 61-136 (issued in July 2008) and are 
consistent with existing regulations. As such, all manufacturers of 
devices \3\ (including ground trainers, PCATD, FTD level 1-3, and ATDs) 
who currently hold an LOA (or any other official method of approval) 
must apply for a new LOA. By January 1, 2015, all FAA approved training 
devices must have an LOA that has been reissued by AFS-800 (excluding 
part 60 approvals) that: (1) Assesses the training device under the 
standards in current AC 61-136; (2) contains an expiration date; and 
(3) reflects current regulatory requirements. The only exception to the 
reapplication requirement in this notice applies to new devices that 
received their first LOAs after August 23, 2013. As noted, these 
devices have been approved in accordance with AC 61-136, contain 
expiration dates, and reference the appropriate regulatory limitations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ The FAA expects that most requests for approval will come 
from the ATD manufacturer. However, the FAA understands that in some 
cases the manufacturer may no longer exist or may not wish to seek 
approval for a particular device. As such, the FAA will accept 
approval requests from individual ATD owners. An ATD owner can be 
considered synonymous with a manufacturer for the purpose of 
submitting and receiving device approvals as described in this 
notice.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    After January 1, 2015, all LOAs previously issued prior to August 
23, 2013, for training devices approved to meet requirements under 
parts 61 and 141 will terminate. This means that experience obtained in 
these devices may no longer be credited toward aeronautical experience 
or currency requirements in parts 61 and 141. In order to promote 
standardization, LOAs for any training device used for certification 
and recency under parts 61 and 141 that are not approved by the 
National Simulator Program AFS-205 will be issued only by General 
Aviation and Commercial Division, AFS-800. The FAA notes that, as part 
of this process, renewed LOAs (as well as any LOA issued for a new 
device) will contain limitations for instrument training that are 
consistent with the express aeronautical experience limits

[[Page 22]]

for an instrument rating found in Sec.  61.65 and appendix C to part 
141.
    LOAs that are reissued in accordance with this notice will contain 
language noting the previously discussed exemption that will permit 
operators of approved devices to continue to use ATDs at the higher 
levels set forth in the previously approved LOAs--and pilots applying 
for an instrument rating will be permitted to take the practical test 
with the aeronautical experience set forth in the LOAs--until January 
1, 2015. After this date, no applicant for an instrument rating may use 
more than 10 hours of instrument training in an ATD toward the minimum 
aeronautical experience requirements required to take the practical 
test for an instrument rating. In addition, no graduate of a training 
program approved under appendix C to part 141 may credit more than 10% 
of the required coursework in ATDs (unless that program has been 
approved in accordance with Sec.  141.55(d) or (e)).\4\ The FAA expects 
manufacturers and operators to adjust training in advance of this date 
so that no applicant for an instrument rating is ineligible. The FAA 
notes that the regulations do not place a limit on the amount of time 
that a person may train in an ATD. Rather, the regulations place a 
limit on the amount of time in an ATD that may be credited toward the 
aeronautical experience requirements for an instrument rating. 
Operators may continue to use these devices to improve pilot 
proficiency and reduce more costly time in an aircraft.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Part 141 Appendix C describes the curriculum requirements 
for an approved training course. After January 1, 2015, no courses 
approved under part 141 appendix C rating may allow for more than 
10% of the required coursework to have been completed in an ATD. 
After January 1, 2015, no person may graduate from a course that 
allows for more than 10% of the required coursework to have been 
completed in an ATD. The exception is those courses that have been 
approved under Sec.  141.55 (d) and (e). The FAA recognizes that 
some pilot schools will need to revise their instrument-rating 
training program to reflect the 10% crediting limitation and 
resubmit for approval. Alternatively, a pilot school may elect to 
resubmit their training course for approval under Sec.  141.55 (d) 
and (e).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In order for any device, regardless of issue date, to be used to 
gain the aeronautical experience and currency described in the letter 
of authorization, that device must continue to perform to standards 
required by that authorization. In addition, all conditions noted on 
the letter of authorization must continue to be valid. These conditions 
may include an annual periodic inspection and stakeholder report 
verifying performance to original standards.

Applications for new LOAs

    As noted above, all devices that received initial approval before 
August 23, 2013 will require a new LOA to be issued before January 1, 
2015, in order to continue to be used to obtain aeronautical experience 
to meet requirements under parts 61 and 141. The FAA does not intend to 
reevaluate every individual device as is the case for FFSs and FTDs 
under part 60. Rather, the FAA wants to ensure that the type of device 
meets acceptable standards for use in crediting aeronautical experience 
and currency. The manufacturer will be responsible for providing a copy 
of the renewed LOA to any operator of the device.

Devices that received approval between July 14, 2008, and August 23, 
2013

    Devices that were approved between July 14, 2008 and August 23, 
2013 have been assessed under the current standards in AC 61-136; 
however, these devices may not contain the current regulatory limits of 
Sec.  61.65(i) or part 141 Appendix C. Any LOA issued after July 14, 
2008, may be reissued without the need for additional evaluation. 
Manufacturers must, however, submit a letter to the General Aviation 
and Commercial Division (AFS-800), including a copy of the original 
authorization, requesting a revised LOA that will contain regulatory 
references that reflect current requirements. If the LOA contains an 
expiration date, this new authorization will retain the original 
expiration date.\5\ For LOAs originally issued without an expiration 
date, the new LOA will reflect a five-year expiration date.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ Since January 2012, all LOAs have been issued to 
manufacturers with a five-year expiration date.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The new LOA will replace and supersede the previous authorization. 
However, as noted, the FAA will continue to accept applicants for the 
instrument rating practical test who need to credit more than 10 hours 
of instrument time in an ATD to meet the minimum aeronautical 
experience requirements until January 1, 2015.

Devices approved prior to July 14, 2008

    All devices (including ground trainers, PCATD, FTD level 1-3, and 
ATDs) for which an LOA (or any other official method of approval) was 
issued prior to July 2008 must be reevaluated under the standards set 
forth in the current advisory circular. Manufacturers of these devices 
will be required to demonstrate that the device meets the current 
standards for ATDs set forth in AC 61-136. The manufacturer must 
request this evaluation by the means described in AC 61-136 no later 
than July 1, 2014, in order to ensure that the FAA has adequate time to 
evaluate the device and issue a new LOA before the existing LOA 
terminates on January 1, 2015. The FAA cannot guarantee that 
applications for reissued LOAs that are received after July 1, 2014, 
will be processed prior to the termination date. The LOAs reissued for 
these devices will be revised to contain expiration dates and reflect 
current regulatory requirements and references.

Disposition

    The FAA has initiated a revision to AC 61-136 and will amend 
obsolete guidance concerning the approval and use of PCATD's, FTD's 
(level 1-3) and ATDs. The FAA will insert into AC 61-136 all of the 
above policy concerning these training devices. Please direct any 
questions or requests concerning information in this notice to AFS-810, 
Airmen Certification and Training Branch, 800 Independence Ave. SW., 
Washington, DC 20591.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on December 19, 2013.
John Barbagallo,
Acting Deputy Director, Flight Standards Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-31094 Filed 12-31-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P