By Marino Boric
On Wednesday, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) President Dan Johnson will address recent reports critical of LSA manufacturers relating to compliance with ASTM consensus standards and other requirements.
In 2008 and 2009, the FAA visited 30 LSA manufacturers and importers/distributors. Of this group, the FAA reported that some businesses were not able to produce all the documentation requested and some had processes not compliant with ASTM standards that govern FAA acceptance of this newest form of fully built flying machines. According to the FAA, some were subsequently able to come into compliance, and some were not.
The problem is not large, LAMA claims. Some companies have work to do to bring their documentation and processes into compliance, but most companies have subsequently been able to verify their compliance. The safety record of these new aircraft is "acceptable," to use a word often repeated by FAA officials.
"Out of the many hundreds of documents a manufacturer must produce when asked by the FAA, a single missing document-or even an error on that document-can mean an airplane is technically not in compliance," Johnson said. "However, many such errors are not difficult to fix, and most companies were willing and able to do so."
Following Wednesday's LAMA press conference, Pipistrel and Flight Design are scheduled to make their first offering of reports about their annual internal audit, an action required under ASTM standards. Reporting these internal audits is not mandatory, however, and the two companies are proactively stepping up to submit written reports of their audits.
Pipistrel and Flight Design will turn over to the FAA reports of their findings and corrective actions as a positive and voluntary effort to prove they are taking steps to assure full compliance with the ASTM standards. LAMA has been encouraging the manufacturers to take this action, and more such reports are expected to head to the FAA with LAMA acting as an intermediary.
FAA officials have stated that the submission of these reports is a worthy first step in giving the agency additional reason to support the new aircraft segment. The rules allowing LSA and the new sport pilot certificate were announced at AirVenture 2004 and became effective in September of that year. About 2,750 LSA have received airworthiness certificates since that date.
At its press conference, LAMA also will announce the recipient of the 21st annual LAMA President's Award to an outstanding individual, and the organization promises a surprise when it announces the speaker confirmed for its 6th Annual LAMA Dinner at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo next January.