The FAA has released the long-awaited Enhanced Flight Vision System (EFVS) rule FAR 91.176 that will bring numerous benefits to aviation. More specifically, the rule will expand applicability of EFVS for business aircraft owners and operators and introduce, for the first time, similar benefits to the air transport industry. Up until now, other than by exemption, the air transport sector has not been able to participate in the operational benefits EFVS affords. This has all changed.
The new rule is lengthy, so let’s highlight some of the impacts of the rule change.
Main benefits to FAA’s new EFVS rule:
- Enhances low-visibility flight and ground operations
- Increases access, efficiency and throughput at many airports when low visibility is a factor
- Reduces infrastructure necessary to support low visibility operations
- Provides a real-time display of the outside world in low-visibility conditions using imaging sensors
- Enables descent below Decision Altitude/Decision Height (DA/DH) or Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) in low visibilities on a greater number of approach procedure types (precision, approach procedure with vertical guidance (APV) and non-precision)
The comprehensive re-structuring and implementation of FAR 91.176 impacts numerous rules and guidance documents that provide a better cross reference. These cross reference materials make the review and learning of this material much easier than in the past. (The complete rule can be found on the Federal Register.)
The FAA 91.176 rule summary:
Establishes new landing minima
- Permits operators to use an EFVS to touchdown and rollout 91.176(a)
- Relocates EFVS to 100’ operations to 91.176(b)
Permits operators who conduct EFVS operations under parts 121, 125 or 135 to use EFVS-equipped aircraft
- Dispatch/release under IFR
- Allow those operators to initiate and continue an approach when destination weather is at or below authorized visibility minimums on the Instrument Approach Plate (IAP)
Establishes pilot training and recent flight experience requirements for EFVS operators
- The pilot flight crew member or any other person who manipulates the controls of an aircraft during EFVS operation meets the training, recent flight experience and refresher training requirements in FAR 61.66 is applicable to EFVS operations
- Provides EFVS training requirements for Part 121 and Part 135 operators
Revises pilot compartment view certification requirements for vision systems
- New airworthiness standards for certification of vision systems removes ‘special conditions’ that were required to certify vision systems which will speed up the certification process
- The FAA issued Advisory Circular 90-106A, Enhanced Flight Vision Systems and Advisory Circular 20-167A, Airworthiness Approval of Enhanced Vision System, Synthetic Vision System, Combined Vision System and Enhanced Flight Vision System Equipment. This updates these documents to support the newly released regulations
The FAA established that these rules would be performance-based and not linked to specific sensor technology. This provides a means to allow for sensor development as new sensor capabilities emerge. The applicant will demonstrate sensor performance during the EFVS certification process. With this, the FAA will manage EFVS operational minimums and approval through its authorization process. This affords a more streamlined means to respond to new technology developments. As one reads through this material, it is apparent the FAA sets standards that will carry this technology and its operations well into the future.
Presently, EFVS is required to be displayed on a conformal, flight-path-based Head-Up Display (HUD), which displays selectable flight path angle as well as lateral and vertical approach path deviation and command guidance as appropriate for the type of approach being flown. The FAA has provided a means for the development of new display types and sensor capabilities but they will need to be vetted through a certification process similar to the current HUD-based EFVS and meet the same safety and performance standards.
This approach to implementing the new EFVS rules will guide a global process to visual-equivalent operations and provide a means to standardize international-based operations and regulatory process. The application of this comprehensive approach to implementing EFVS will secure safety, airfield throughput and airline operational benefits in all takeoff and approach operations. The FAA’s consistent implementation of these changes supports the design concept implemented decades ago of placing more capability on the airplane rather than build additional ground infrastructure.
Stay tuned as this new rulemaking progresses and operators are approved for its use. This rulemaking could be a real game changer.