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Tue, May 22, 2012

FAA's AIR-200/AIR-230 Targets High-Performance Warbirds... Again

Will No Longer Designees To Assist With Certificates

The FAA is targeting warbird operations... again. A memorandum issued May 21st by Terry Allen, Acting Manager, Production and Airworthiness Division, AIR-200 and prepared by the  Airworthiness Certification Branch, AIR-230 has revised "Restrictions on the Issuance of Experimental Airworthiness Certificates for Sophisticated and High-Performance Former Military Aircraft."

The memorandum, "replaces the AIR-200 memorandum dated, August 18, 2011, on the same subject. It expands applicability to all experimental airworthiness certificates (not just exhibition and air racing), addresses aircraft over 9,000 Ibs. (instead of 10,000 Ibs.), turbine power (rather than turbojet only) and considers ejection seat systems."

The memorandum, "restricts the issuance of experimental airworthiness certificates (including amendments) for sophisticated and high-performance former military aircraft (including replica turbine-powered aircraft and aircraft that, at one time in their past, previously had a standard airworthiness certificate). A sophisticated and high-performance former military aircraft includes those weighing more than 9,000 lbs. Maximum Take-Off Weight, or turbine powered (more than 3,000 lbs. total engine thrust of all engines, or 1,000 shaft horse-power of one engine) or originally equipped with an ejection seat system. The airworthiness certificates for this type of aircraft would be experimental under Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) § 21.191. This activity will not be delegated to designees." (Editor's Note: The FAA doc had bolded that sentence in the memo we received.)

Allen's memo notes that, "Any application for experimental airworthiness certificates for the purpose of operating sophisticated and high-performance former military aircraft as experimental under (14 CFR) § 21.191 must be coordinated with the Production and Airworthiness Division (AIR-200) before any action is taken. Compliance with FAA Order 8130.2 paragraph 4111 Special Initial Certification Requirements shall not include any preliminary approval or acceptance of any related submittals by the applicant prior to coordination with AIR-200."

The reason for these new restrictions and high-level FAA attention is being attributed to safety concerns. "The FAA has determined that many sophisticated and high-performance former military aircraft may have safety issues that could prevent the issuance of an airworthiness certificate, or require additional aircraft-specific operating limitations or other requirements, which may not be covered in FAA Order 8130.2, Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products."

The FAA adds that, "These aircraft may have inherent high-risk factors associated with their design, manufacture, maintenance, and operation. These high-risk factors must be properly mitigated."

FMI: www.faa.gov, Airworthiness Certification Branch, AIR-230, (202) 385-6346



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