In Case You Wondering ... How RTCA Committees Work

July 16, 2020

RTCA develops standards that serve as the basis for the certification of equipment and products used in the aviation industry. Standards being developed today will drive the reliability, safety and expansion of the aviation industry tomorrow.

These standards are developed by Special Committees (SC), which are formed at the request of the FAA or when petitioned to do so by two or more RTCA member companies. Special Committees bring together diverse and sometimes competing interests to build consensus and develop comprehensive, industry-vetted and endorsed standards that are used as a means of compliance with FAA and other civil aviation authority regulations.

When a request is received to form a new committee, it is up to RTCA’s Program Management Committee (PMC) to evaluate and approve the establishment of the committee. Whoever requests the SC provides a draft Terms of Reference (TOR) to the PMC outlining the need for the new document, the boundaries of the work to be accomplished, and the intended use of the new document. When RTCA members request the formation of an SC, the member companies must be willing to provide leadership for the SC. If the PMC approves the TOR, RTCA assigns a program director to set up and advise the new SC. An SC is usually given two years to complete their initial task.

Committee members are volunteers provided by interested member companies. Those companies, which can provide any level of committee participation that makes sense to their organization, need to make the financial commitment to enable their experts the time to work on a committee.

After an SC has finished drafting a document, an important part of the process is to ask for feedback (including from the public) and incorporate this feedback into the final draft of the document. This is known as Final Review and Comment, or FRAC. Documents are made available for review and comment by anyone on the RTCA website. RTCA documents following the standard process are available for public comment for at least 30 days.

Once all comments are received, the SC reviews and disposition all comments and delivers the document to the PMC requesting publication.

RTCA works with EUROCAE under a Memorandum of Cooperation. EUROCAE also develops aviation standards using an extensive committee, or working group, structure. When RTCA’s Special Committees work jointly with EUROCAE’s Working Groups, they create a single global standard to advance aviation safety. Documents created by joint groups are published as technically equivalent works and are utilized globally by multiple certifying government agencies. RTCA documents developed with EUROCAE are available for review for at least 45 days, and EUROCAE runs its open consultation process in parallel with the FRAC.

Any technical differences between the EUROCAE and RTCA publications are highlighted in the forward of the document. RTCA and EUROCAE review their cooperating memorandum annually, ensuring continued support, not competition, and their modus operandi concerning SCs and WGs is to consider them to be joint efforts, not competing committees.