I was researching information regarding the competitiveness of different government certification organizations (FAA, EASA, etc) and the processes (Amount of time, costs, etc) to get their nations aircraft certified and flying.

Is the certification process to get a US jet manufacturer's product into the hands of its customers shorter or longer than other countries?

From what I've found so far it seems GAMA and other US aviation entities are trying to help shorten/simplify this process in the US. This leads me to believe we are at a competitive disadvantage, but I haven't really found any data to back this up. Any direction helps.

Countries/manufacturers that I have been comparing to the US are: Bombardier (Canada), Embraer (Brazil), Dassault (France), and Airbus(France).

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    $\begingroup$ Airbus is not french, but european $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Jul 23, 2015 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ My previous question was too broad, I started editing it and found that the way it was structured and the way I was beginning to structure it were two entirely different questions. $\endgroup$
    – user9308
    Jul 23, 2015 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ And yes, Airbus is not French. For the sake of monotony I included the location of every company's headquarters. Thank you for pointing it out though! $\endgroup$
    – user9308
    Jul 23, 2015 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ Well, apparently the 787 took 8 years, the A380 took 5 and the A350 took 14 months. Because it seems that FAA and EASA certification is typically done at the same time (see the Airbus link), perhaps differences are more about the aircraft type rather than the agencies. And manufacturers will always try to make any long, expensive process shorter and simpler, so I'm not sure how much you can read into that. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jul 23, 2015 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, from what I've gathered it seems that the processes in place for certification are very similar for each manufacturer. I've read about problems with staffing with the FAA and their attempts to improve their services and the amount of effort required to get the certifications. gama.aero/node/13422 If you read that article, search for the phrase "white knuckle" and that paragraph. I have a lot of the information I want regarding the FAA, but I guess the answer I am asking for is if the same aircraft was built under FAA and then one under the EASA which one would be cheaper/faster $\endgroup$
    – user9308
    Jul 23, 2015 at 16:46

3 Answers 3


Certification is just one part in the design process. Things like design or manufacturing issues can also cause significant delays on a program. Although much of the design is driven by certification requirements, it can be hard to determine whether the delay is due to regulations or just issues with designing for them. Estimating the cost attributed just to certification would be even more difficult.

Also, while the regulator of the country of design certainly is the primary concern, an aircraft must also be certified in any other countries where the type will be operated. An aircraft designed by Airbus, for example, will certainly be primarily certified by EASA. But to operate in the US, the FAA must also certify it. While the authorities do have agreements between them so that the entire process is not duplicated, there are differences in requirements and philosophies between the agencies. So if the FAA has some regulations that tend to cause the process to take a long time, it doesn't mean that Airbus is immune to those issues.

When a manufacturer applies for a type certificate (new or amended), they are also establishing a regulatory baseline. The new type must conform to all current regulations as of that date, unless they are able to negotiate something different with the regulator. This application is only valid for a limited time before the manufacturer must renegotiate.

14 CFR §21.17 (c)

An application for type certification of a transport category aircraft is effective for 5 years and an application for any other type certificate is effective for 3 years...

While this is not a hard limit, manufacturers would rather avoid having to go back to the table with regulators years into their design process to extend their application and possibly have to step up to more strict regulations, especially for a new type.

Most recent Type Certificates from EASA list the application date and issue date. If the primary regulator is not EASA or JAA (predecessor to EASA), they list dates for that regulator as well.

If we look at recent designs, we can see that most new aircraft took about 5 years to certify, which would seem to indicate that there is no clear time advantage between regulators. This includes the A330, A340, A350, A380, 777, 787, CRJ, E145, and E170. For all aircraft not primarily certified by EASA/JAA, there was either only a minor difference in the time taken for each regulator, or EASA/JAA took a bit less time.

Amended types vary greatly, from much less than 5 years (A330-200, 777-300) to 5 years (747-8) or more (777-200LR). It is difficult to tell whether a longer process means a more complex product or a more involved certification process. EASA/JAA seems to always certify aircraft at the same time or after the primary regulator, but this is probably not due to the EASA/JAA process taking more time.

You mentioned Dassault as well. Although the business jet regulations and market are different from airliners, there seems to be a similar trend of about 5 years for new jets (Falcon 7X, Gulfstream VI, Bombardier Global Express, Embraer Legacy 500), and less for variants.


There is little difference between different aviation authorities requirements as they have been harmonized specifically to allow acceptance of new aircraft across jurisdictions. Processes are similar as well. For example both EASA and FAA allow the use of designated private examiners to keep potential government staffing problems out of the approval cycle. Boeing famously abused this privilege and is now getting extra scrutiny.

What few differences exist all have to be addressed at some point in order to get acceptance in the new jurisdiction anyway, so where you start doesn't matter much. Manufacturers will not develop aircraft for a single market. Here is a document describing how to address the differences between EASA and FAA requirements. It looks lengthy, but it is nothing compared to the base rule set.

Here is a sample aircraft project development schedule. The elapsed time shown for initial certification is 5.5yrs compared to acceptance by foreign authorities at 6mos, and that may represent multiple foreign authorities. It doesn't show workload but the ratio is conservative. There are armies doing the initial certification work and far fewer getting foreign approvals. It is also difficult to separate aircraft design from certification, as one is a specification for the other. The Leeham series on certification is worth a read.

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The reality is that time to certification of commercial aircraft and airliners depends on many factors, such as the complexity of the aircraft, whether or not the aircraft is a variant of a previously certified design or something completely new, the FAA's experience with the manufacturer, the company's willingness to hire experienced staff and pay for the benefit of that, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, etc., etc. Considering the agreements between FAA, EASA, CASA, etc. I don't think the processes and requirements are so much different that it would impact a decision as to where in the world to design and certify an aircraft, but I am not experienced enough in the field to give an authoritative answer.


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