The proposal is to be used in a comprehensive error-reduction approach that also relies on licensing and qualifying crew members and aircraft operations.

FAA Aligning Transport Aircraft Rule with EASA Standards

Proposed changes in design requirements in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes are intended to minimize design-related flight crew errors.

The Federal Aviation Administration published a notice of proposed rulemaking Feb. 3 that would change design requirements in its airworthiness standards (14 CFR Part 25) for transport category airplanes to prevent design-related flight crew errors. The new requirements will not affect current industry design practices, but they would allow a crew to detect and manage their errors when the errors occur and also would eliminate regulatory differences between the U.S. airworthiness standards and those of the European Aviation Safety Agency.

EASA incorporated this rule in 2006, according to the NPRM, which says U.S. and European airworthiness requirements will remain unharmonized if the FAA does not issue a final rule on this subject.

The proposal is to be used in a comprehensive error-reduction approach that also relies on licensing and qualifying crew members and aircraft operations. "Taken together, these complementary approaches provide a high degree of Safety," FAA said in the NPRM. "This complementary approach to avoiding and managing flightcrew error is important. It recognizes that equipment design, training, qualifying through licensing, establishing correct operations and procedures, all contribute to safety by avoiding or minimizing risk. An appropriate balance is needed among them. There have been cases in the past where design characteristics known to contribute to flightcrew error were accepted, with the rationale that training or procedures would mitigate that risk. We now know that such an approach may be inappropriate. Conversely, it would also be inappropriate to require equipment design to always provide complete risk avoidance or mitigation, because such an approach may not be practicable in some cases, and may even create new risks."

FAA asked for comments by April 4 (www.regulations.gov, docket number FAA-2010-1175). The contact for technical questions about the NPRM is Loran Haworth in the Airplane and Flightcrew Interface Branch in Renton, WA, phone 425-227-1133, fax 425-227-1320, e-mail Loran.Haworth@faa.gov.

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