Part 23 Reform: Could It Be a Dangerous Double-Edged Sword?


The Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) are rules set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governing all aviation activities in the United States. The rules includes Part 23, which details airworthiness standards required for issuance and change of type certifications for certain airplanes, as well as determines special aspects of aircraft performance.

In 2016, the FAA released a final rule to streamline the certification process, and it was deemed a victory for many in the aviation world, providing groundbreaking provisions for aircraft manufacturers. The new rule allows manufacturers to use performance-based standards in place of prescriptive manufacturing methods that have slowed down development of new designs and technologies and caused aircraft certification costs to sky rocket. The new certification process will remove certification categories, such as utility and aerobic and, instead, use four levels of performance and risk testing based on the aircraft’s seating capacity.

Despite the advantages to the aircraft manufacturers, Part 23 reform could pose some serious consequences for the rights and safety of passengers. Under the new rule, if an aircraft meets the airworthiness requirements set forth in the Part 23 certification process, the manufacturer will not be held responsible if a crash occurs due to defective parts, dangerous designs, negligence or failure to warn of a known hazard.

Part 23 aircrafts are also known to have a history of accidents and safety issues. The reform of this rule would take away the ability to hold manufacturers liable for defective parts and allow them to continue producing unsafe aircrafts. The reformed certification is meant to bring much needed technological and safety improvements; however, there has been very little light shed on its dangers to consumers, which should have been weighed heavily in this decision.

The attorneys at Slack & Davis have handled many cases involving Part 23 aircrafts. If you or a loved one have been involved in an aviation accident and need help, call us for more information at (800) 455-8686.