I am blessed to work with many talented people across many programs. They are critical for confirming or challenging my preconceptions. I am always hesitant about naming people in this newsletter even in a positive light. This is a strange time indeed, so I will not name the guilty party at this time.
I am helping one of my clients set up a part 23 certification program. This is using the much beloved post amendment 64 part 23 (sarc.).
The way that the old regulations were formulated you took each line of the regulations and addressed each with a compliance action. In that way the process was clear. You could give a junior engineer the opportunity to do the first draft of a section of the compliance plan because it was deterministic.
In latest amendments of the part 23 amendments (64 & 65) the wording of the regulations is entirely immaterial. The ASTM standards (ostensibly the acceptable means of compliance) are the requirements that you address line by line.
The part 23 regulations are not worth reading as they have become a generic list of aspirational qualities for an aircraft. They do not regulate so much as create a linguistic environment for the regulations (now called ‘standards’) to inhabit.
The realization of this aspect of the new regulations is critical to understanding how they should be used. I had tried for a time to address each line of the regulations, as if they were, well, regulations.
I had determined that this was an impossible task as the actual regulations (the ASTM standards) are not related in any way back to each individual line of the new regulations. I did not want to admit to myself that I could not crack the code and was unable to figure out a way to do this. So I was struggling through the same problem over and over again.
Enter my new favorite DER who took away my intellectual pain. He gave away the secret. It turns out that actual wording of the amendment 64 and 65 regulations is meaningless. The paragraph number of the regulations is related to the ASTM sections by this table.
After that you cheerfully discard the wording of the new part 23 regulations without a second thought and continue as if the ASTM standards are the regulations.
Some of you may point out that this is exactly what the new amendments were pretending not to do. The ASTM standards were only optional acceptable means of compliance and absolutely were not the amendment 63 regulations with some minor updates placed behind a paywall.
So, for me, the final piece of the puzzle is now in place. I was honestly approaching the new regulations as if they meant something. Now I know that belief was the source of my problems. The new regulations are essentially meaningless and I have to treat the ASTM as if they are the regulations.
While this makes my life much easier it is disappointing as the new regulations are exactly what I feared they would be. A poor excuse to put the real regulations to a more useful purpose – making money for the friends of Uncle Sam.
I am a cynic when it comes to how the government operates, but I do harbor a secret hope that I am wrong. I hate to be proved right.