Planemakers Say Certification Process Needs To Be Streamlined
A combination of a flood of new aviation products and a flat or shrinking FAA budget has caused a massive bottleneck in the certification process, and aviation company officials in Wichita say it is stifling innovation for and production of new airplanes and products.
GAMA Vice President of engineering and maintenance Walter Desrosier told the Wichita Eagle that even the use of FAA approved designees for the review of some products, the agency still has to sign off on every piece of paper associated with bringing a new product to market, and the agency is still "very much involved" in all aspects of product design. "The can't continue to do the old way of doing it if they don't have the resources," he told the paper.
Desrosier recommends a program that would have the agency spot-checking a company's processes, but not "kicking every tire" and "looking at every single drawing." He said there is help for the agency to concentrate its attention on "safety critical" areas of production.
The recently-passed FAA reauthorization bill does include language that "tasks" the agency with reviewing the certification process with an eye towards making it more efficient. But the agency is also on something of a learning curve, with technology sometimes progressing faster than the FAA can develop criteria for its certification. Consultant Rolland Vincent said that between the rapid pace of technological advancement and hiring freezes and reallocation of resources at the FAA have created a kind of "perfect storm" in the certification pipeline, and "everyone is dong the best they can."