I've never quite understood the rationale behind having motors decertified for sport use, and I'd appreciate it if folks (especially those who may have been involved in some of the decisions over the years) could contribute comments about it.
As I understand it, if a manufacturer stops making a certain motor than after time period 'A' that motor becomes decertified for contest use. After time period 'B' (where 'B' is greater than 'A'), the motor becomes decertified for sport use at sanctioned launches.
Now, I can sorta/kinda understand the rationale behind the contest use decertification, because the INTENT (as best I interpret it) is to ensure that only motors available to everyone can be used in a contest, so that an individual can't "cheat" by using a motor that is not available to the general public in order to win the contest. There is a fallacy in this argument, of course -- witness the Apogee Medalist motors. I've never used them, but just purchased my first batch, and folks indicated that one reason they are so pricey is that they are generally used for contests. I ordered some within a few days of the 'quiet' announcement that they were again available, and even then, some sizes were already sold out. So, for motors that are produced in limited runs, or only sporadically, just because a motor is certified doesn't make it generally available. Another example is what happened with the AeroTech fire -- for motors that they had just certified (but where there were only a few in the pipeline), the limited number of motors then available would have become suddenly 'premium' motors for contest use. So, the limitation for contest use has a good intent, but has some inherent problems -- but I'd have to suggest that the current system is probably the best 'common sense' solution to the (real or perceived) problem.
However, IMHO, it doesn't make sense that I can use an A8-3 made in the60's, but I can't use an A10-0T from the 90's. The manufacturer is still in business, so the argument that protecting users against a defunct manufacturer is moot. The motors were never recalled by the manufacturer, so there is no known safety problem. To the best of my knowledge, there were never any large numbers of MESS reports filed against the A10-0T, so they were never decertified due to discovering any safety problems. Furthermore, the manufacturer's warranty on motors had long since expired prior to the certifications expiring, so attempting to protect the end-user against a defunct manufacturer for warranty purposes is moot for that reason. And lastly, the argument that age of motors creates a safety issue is moot -- for two reasons. First, we all know (and it's even in the Level 2 test) that damage to BP motors is caused by temperature cycling, not age, and second, if it were true, then we wouldn't be "allowed" to launch decades-old motors that are still being manufactured (even though, interestingly enough, said motors may have had casing, nozzle, clay, and ejection charge changes over time in the manufacturing process).
So, after all that is said, I've got two questions:
- Is there a good argument for having motors decertified for sport use when they're no longer made?
- How would you word a request for change?
Here's my submittal for number 2:
"Motors will not be allowed to be used for sport use if the manufacturer recalls the motor, or if the NAR decertifies the motor for cause (i.e., an inordinant number of MESS reports)."