January 26, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
The FAA briefed members of the light sport aircraft industry on its assessment of manufacturers during the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, an effort that will continue for several more months. FAA officials are careful to use the word “assessment” rather than “audit.” It is merely an effort to aid a fledgling industry, one industry source said.
Thus far, the main problems seem to concern paperwork. There are experienced companies that are doing very well with the required documentation, and those that need improvement, the assessment shows. As far as safety problems, none were reported. The worst problem found concerned a manufacturer that completed aircraft approval paperwork while the aircraft was still under construction.
The National Transportation Safety Board has a concurrent assessment in progress that in some cases not only parallels the FAA investigation, but also monitors it. NTSB officials have indicated in the past that they are more comfortable with FAA certification of aircraft. Light sport aircraft are built to an industry-agreed-upon set of standards, and manufacturers certify to the FAA that the standards have been met.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
The Flying Physicians Association (FPA) has become the latest group to lend support to third-class medical reform and urge government officials to speed up their review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The NPRM would expand the number of pilots who could fly without needing to obtain a third-class medical certificate, a standard that has been successfully used by sport pilots for a decade.
California pilot Christopher Braun has created a revamped version of the cleco plier that is said to be lighter and more ergonomic.
There is no shortage of pilots in eastern Washington, but there does seem to be a scarcity of clubs in that part of the country.
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