Latest News

Thursday, 20 October, 2011

FAA Issues Proposed Rule Allowing Pilots To Update Navigational Databases

Regulatory Report


October 20, 2011

What’s at Issue
Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking titled Pilot Loading of Navigation and Terrain Awareness Database Updates.

Why It’s Important
This proposed rule would amend federal regulations to allow all pilots to perform updates to aircraft navigational databases.  Current regulations only allow pilots of aircraft operating under Part 91 to perform these updates.

Major Provisions
This rule would allow pilots to perform navigational database updates on “self-contained, front-instrument panel-mounted and pedestal-mounted air traffic control (ATC) navigational system database[s].”  Presently, the updating of navigational databases is considered to be preventative maintenance, thereby allowing pilots to perform the updates only on aircraft operating under Part 91.  Current regulations require that certificated maintenance personnel or a certificated repair station, not pilots, perform preventative maintenance on aircraft operated under Part 135.

The language of this rule change limits its actual applicability to Part 135 and fractional aircraft operators, as only navigational databases loaded directly into front instrument panel-mounted or pedestal-mounted systems would be affected.  Avionics systems utilizing a data loader would not be covered by this proposed rule.

NATA Position
As technological advances simplify the operation of aircraft and their systems, it is imperative that the FAA respond accordingly to prevent outdated regulations from becoming burdensome upon the industry.  The updating of navigational databases is one of those issues, and NATA is pleased that the FAA has begun this rulemaking project.  However, NATA believes that the FAA has not fully addressed the issue.  Numerous aircraft flight management systems that utilize a data loader to update their navigational databases are not included in this proposed rule.  NATA will provide detailed comments to the FAA to help ensure that this proposed rulemaking project eliminates the burdens of outdated regulations on the industry.

This notice of proposed rulemaking is open for public comment until December 19, 2011.


Staff Contact:  Michael France
Director, Regulatory Affairs

View in PDF format

For general press inquiries, contact Shannon Chambers at 703-298-1347 or

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has been the voice of aviation business for over 75 years. Representing nearly 2,300 aviation businesses, NATA’s member companies provide a broad range of services to general aviation, the airlines and the military and NATA serves as the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.