At the 30th International Aviation Safety Conference, the regulators of the world discussed the balance between harmonized (global) standards and regional flexibility (lack of harmonization that permits national flexibility).
FAA Aircraft Certification Director Dorenda Baker explained that the optimal regulatory structure balances the rigor applied during a certification exercise. The reason for this is that as rigor increases, cost of certification increases. She explained that as cost of certification increases, safety can decrease to the extent that certification costs have a chilliing effect on safety innovations.
One example of putting this theory into effect can be found in the way that FAA approves avionics software
FAA created a system that divided software into four tiered classes for certification purposes. Baker feels that there is a relation between the avionics that we’re permitted to be certified and the reduction of CFIT (controlled flight into terrain).
Baker explained that “Sometimes you’ve got to get out of the way, for safety.”
With this in mind, the FAA is working on ways to ensure that the airwortness standards reflect performance standards. A part of this effort is removing methods of compliance from the regulations, in order to ensure that the regulations do not limit innovation. Methods of compliance should more properly be published in guidance.