April 8, 2011
By Alton K. Marsh
The FAA plans an audit of all light sport manufacturers, including those overseas, and any new aircraft those companies might produce, said Dan Johnson, chairman and president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association. Johnson said the information of the planned audits was confirmed in a phone call from an FAA official. It was first announced in 2010.
"We are planning on auditing existing LSA manufacturers. Also, any new make or model aircraft being produced will be first inspected by an FAA team along with an assessment of their system prior to issuance of the first Special Light-Sport Airworthiness (SLSA) certificate. Post FAA approval, [FAA] designees may issue subsequent SLSA certificates," said a spokesman at FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Professor of Aerospace Engineering Richard P. Anderson, a party to the same FAA phone call as Johnson, confirmed Johnson’s report.
The FAA’s concerns about quality assurance show FAA officials remain uncomfortable with self-certification of LSAs, even though the safety record for such aircraft is good. Those concerns were expressed in an FAA assessment report in May 2010.
The new audit, aimed to assure a company is complying with industry agreed-upon standards, and the new-model aircraft inspection would be conducted by FAA personnel, not designated inspectors. The inspections could start this summer, Johnson said.
At present, manufacturers simply declare that their LSA meets ASTM industry standards, and an FAA representative then examines the paperwork and aircraft. Usually the examination is done after the aircraft has reached a dealer, and there is no factory inspection required. For foreign manufacturers, the aircraft would not be permitted for sale in the United States until the inspections are complete. The inspections would be handled by FAA headquarters, not by field representatives.
“The FAA believes many companies could not demonstrate with all the required documentation that they were in full compliance. Therefore, it is in a manufacturer’s best interest to review compliance with ASTM standards. While FAA’s initial plan appears to be a review of any new SLSA, it is possible the FAA will also review existing SLSA,” Johnson said.
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 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has awarded its third annual Flight Training Excellence Awards to top flight schools and flight instructors ranked by more than 3,600 flight students who voluntarily reviewed their flight training experience through an AOPA online poll.
For decades, pilots have headed to Bay Bridge Airport in the Chesapeake Bay for scenic coastal flying and great seafood. Check it out after attending the AOPA Homecoming Fly-In on Oct. 4.
Maintenance experts have asked the FAA to clarify whether recurring inspections of Cessna 210-series aircraft can be mandated without following required rulemaking procedures.
VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN NEAR YOU!
SHARE YOUR PASSION. VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN. CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
VOLUNTEER LOCALLY AT AOPA FLY-IN! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
BE A PART OF THE FLY-IN VOLUNTEER CREW! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>