By Dan Brownell
The FAA’s Dynamic Regulatory System (DRS) is a relatively new digital document search tool released in 2022. The agency describes it as a “comprehensive knowledge center that includes all regulatory guidance material from the Office of Aviation Safety.” It replaced a digital information portal that had been used since 2007 under the auspices of FAA Order 8900.1.
The DRS database is bigger than the old one because it combines information sets that used to be separate. According to the site’s main page at drs.faa.gov, the system pulls together “more than 65 document types from a dozen repositories into a single searchable application. It also includes all information found in the Flight Standards Information System (FSIMS) and the agency’s Regulatory Guidance System (RGL). You can browse or search more than two million regulatory guidance documents. A complex search engine serves as the backbone of DRS and allows for basic or very advanced searches, while applying a variety of filters. The system includes pending, current, and historical versions of all documents along with their revision history. And to ensure you have the most current documents, it is updated every 24 hours.”
One of the main advantages of DRS is that it’s dynamic rather than static. That means that data is constantly being updated, so all information is current, at least within 24 hours, as the entire system is updated every evening. Once information is downloaded or printed out, though, it becomes static and could be outdated within a day. That’s why it’s best to source information directly from the live DRS online page, rather than from a download or printed copy.
Finding the Information You Need
The DRS database’s comprehensiveness makes it an invaluable tool, but it can also make it challenging to find exactly what you’re looking for. It’s easier if you’re already skilled at using browse, search, advanced search, keyword, and filter strategies. Fortunately, the FAA has a thorough, user-friendly help page at drs.faa.gov/help with tutorials and a detailed search tips document that you can read online or download as a PDF. To find the search tips document, visit the Help page, click on “Search Tips,” and when the popup box appears, click on “Quick reference (click for more information).”
In addition, the DRS system includes what might seem like a minor feature that makes the system much easier to use. That handy feature is that the search function is not case sensitive, so search terms won’t be accidentally excluded due to upper case/lower case typos or uncertainty about whether words are common nouns or proper nouns.
Finally, the FAA Safety Team recently produced a free, in-depth webinar, Researching ADs Using the FAA DRS Website, demonstrating how to search for airworthiness directives, one of the most common and useful functions of the DRS system for GA plane owners. The presenter walks through the search process using a sample Cessna 172. The video is recorded, so you can play, pause, and replay as often as needed to learn and master the search steps.
RESEARCHING AD’S USING THE FAA DRS WEBSITE
Free Recorded Webinar Hosted by the National FAA Safety Team on socialflight.com.
Presented by Garry Mitcham, San Antonio FAASTeam AW Program Manager
Webinar Description: Aircraft owners are responsible for AD compliance, and mechanics certify that an aircraft meets ALL airworthiness requirements when they sign the log entry for an inspection. Therefore, knowing how to capture all the applicable ADs is critical. For this presentation, we bring a Cessna 172S into our virtual shop and perform Airworthiness Directives (AD) research. The FAA DRS website is used to identify applicable ADs. We will search for aircraft, engine, propeller, and appliance ADs. Emergency ADs and biweekly listings are also reviewed. Techniques, tips, and limitations are discussed. This presentation also demonstrates how to generate AD lists from DRS. If you have difficulty using DRS for AD searches, or you are just not sure, this is the webinar for you.”
Directions: This is a pre-recorded webinar. It can be viewed at any time, by taking the following steps:
- Go to SocialFlight.com.
- Create an account.
- Locate the course under the FAAST-FAA course icon at the top right of the page.
The video will pause in the middle to ask a few survey questions. After you answer the questions, the webinar will continue to the end. At the completion of the video, you will be asked some multiple-choice questions regarding the content of the webinar. If you pass the course, you will receive course credit and can download a course completion certificate.
SocialFlight.com also hosts many other free FAASTeam webinars.