The FAA has proposed new rules to enable Part 135 charter pilots to update navigational databases on aircraft without the need for a licensed mechanic to sign off on that procedure. While pilots of owner-flown aircraft under part 91 can perform routine maintenance such as these updates, requiring a mechanic to insert a CD-ROM or SD card into avionics to upload the most current revisions seemed like overkill.
Avionics and navigation technologies have changed significantly, and these rule changes make it easier for a pilot whose navigational data is expiring to update the files while away from a home airport without the added expense of hiring a mechanic. While the rules will be relaxed for a number of devices, several flight management systems have their own data loader systems, which, unfortunately, will still require a mechanic.
The Notice of Proposed Rule-Making has a comment period, and we urge readers to comment favorably to this common sense proposal, and to extend the proposal to FMS systems with straightforward data loading mechanisms.
In today’s environment, anything that can be done to reduce cost, and at the same time enhance safety by ensuring that everyone has the latest navigation updates make sense, and we’re please to see this change from the FAA.