Government Use of Standards

Industry consensus standards are equally valuable to global authorities and National Standards Bodies as they are to individual organizations. When developed in cooperation with industry and in lieu of prescriptive regulation, regulatory requirements keep pace with innovation in the marketplace. Standards development (on average 18 months) evolves more rapidly than changes to regulations (on average 5 years). Regulators still control what level of safety a product needs to meet, while standards provide options for how industry demonstrates compliance to the rule level.

Note: In the United States, the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 specifies that federal agencies use voluntary consensus standards instead of prescriptive regulations and OMB Circular A-119 outlines how agencies can engage with SDOs.

ICAO, EASA, FAA, Transport Canada, and other Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs) around the world reference standards as means of compliance to aircraft certification rules and policies. Often times CAAs accept standards as “means of compliance.” Applicants may still choose to use other resources to demonstrate the required level of safety. It is important to recognize that CAAs still control the level of safety and determine compliance. Standards do not circumvent the process but instead supplement it.

The aerospace industry relies on standards for the entire supply chain including raw materials, nondestructive testing, individual parts and components, structures, systems, security, continued airworthiness as well as guidance for assessments, inspections, installation, and ground support equipment.

Acceptances of standards are often found in CAA policy such as:

  • EASA: Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC); European Technical Standards Order (ETSO);
  • FAA: Advisory Circular (AC); Notice of Availability (NOA); Orders, Airworthiness Directives (AD), Technical Standards Order (TSO).

GAMA’s Standards Applicability and Acceptance (A&A Tables) database provide a listing of the known standards acceptances found here.

Please direct any inquiries to Christine DeJong Bernat at