December 10, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Our aircraft has now achieved its first deliveries and is Entering Into Service (EIS) with our launch customer.
This covers one customer and one jurisdiction. As each country is sovereign in Airworthiness certification, we have work to do for each market we want to address.
Our launch country and customer allows that a 14 CFR Part 23 aircraft with 19 seats can operate regular airliner/commuter services. We know from Part 5 and 6 that this can’t be the US market.
The FAA rules clearly state:
To operate a 19 seater in the USA, an operator needs to operate under 14 CFR Part 121. But, §121.157 Aircraft Certification and Equipment Requirements then states “(h) Newly type certificated airplanes. No person may operate under this part an airplane for which the application for a type certificate is submitted after March 29, 1995, unless the airplane is type certificated under part 25 of this chapter.”
So, by certifying to Part 23, the general aircraft certification rules, we have excluded regular passenger service in the US as a market for our aircraft.
The example shows how tricky it is to develop an aircraft in the 9 and 19 seat sizes. Certification rules differ by country and as smaller countries often align their certification rules with larger countries we need to research each market individually. Are our target markets making their own rules or do they follow the FAA line or the EASA ideas for this size aircraft?
If we lose too much attainable market by this rule difference we should have investigated what it would have cost in time and money to certify to the tougher Part 25 rules. This opens a larger market, where most countries accept the aircraft can operate in regular passenger service. But Part 25 produces a heavier, more expensive aircraft, with more complex systems.
If we assume we stick to a Part 23 aircraft we address a non-US market. It probably means our design is more utilitarian than fast and smooth for a North American passenger market.
A smart way of developing an aircraft can be to target a US market cargo role and then make a passenger version for non-US markets. An example of such a project is the Cessna SkyCourier program. Cessna designed the aircraft as a cargo aircraft with US FedEx as launch customer (50 fixed and 50 optional orders) but also markets a 19 seat passenger version for non-US markets (Figure 1).
It’s a clever way to secure a large and predictable base market, at which to align the design, then with modest investments market both the Passenger and Cargo version on a broader world market.
Luckily for us, the complexity of multinational certification has been recognized for a long time. To try and limit the impacts there are many bilateral treaties between jurisdictions (for example the US and EU, or the EU and Japan) to recognize work done by the original certifying authority.
This means we can take credit for the testing and other accomplished work unless there is an actual regulation difference (sometimes called a significant standards difference) between the countries. For most smaller countries the regulations are very close to either the US or the EU and there are only small additional certification campaigns needed if we have certified with the larger authorities — manageable as long as we plan ahead.
A few examples of differences in airworthiness standards between countries:
If we determine that we should pursue Part 25 compliance in the US after completing certification in the EU for our passenger version, we need to understand the full list of differences published by the FAA here: https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/design_approvals/transport/transport_intl/sd_list/ssd_nonssd_list/
Even when there are no regulation differences a good validation plan is needed to avoid delivery delays and customer penalties:
In many cases, we may be able to negotiate that the standards of our original certification authority provide an equivalent level of safety to the validating authority (though this can take a long time), or we can plan our original certification campaign to envelope the stricter requirements to prepare for future validations.
However, this is only possible with upfront research and planning, and if we ignore it we will find ourselves with significant costs for repeated testing, additional production challenges to manage different configurations for delivery to different countries, and delivery delays as we try to expand outside our original jurisdiction.