|Mel Cintron, FAA division manager of General Aviation and Commercial Division, addressed AKIA members during their organizational meeting this week.
The Aircraft Kit Industry Association (AKIA) formally organized this week, forming a mission statement and introducing the newly formed organization to key aviation groups like EAA, AOPA, FAA, NTSB, GAMA, NBAA, HAI, and LAMA.
AKIA's mission is to represent aircraft kit manufacturers, designers, suppliers, and supporters with a unified voice in the promotion and safety of the aircraft kit industry.
The 14 charter members formed AKIA after the NTSB issued 16 recommendations regarding experimental amateur-built (E-AB) aircraft safety.
"We don't manufacture aircraft; we make aircraft parts," said Dick VanGrunsven, president of Van's Aircraft and AKIA's president. "Our customers buy those parts, and they manufacture the aircraft. But we do have a direct link to E-AB aircraft, and it's time we make our presence known and become pro-active in addressing safety issues." NTSB cites the first preflight, Phase 1 flight testing, and transition training for pilots as key areas to address.
"The record has to be improved, and we believe it can. AKIA expects to be at the table in all future discussions about E-AB safety. With GA on the NTSB's Most Wanted List, and E-AB having the highest percentage of fatalities, we have to get involved. Collectively, we have the knowledge and experience to make a difference in the culture."
AKIA is moving forward to become a legal entity and to enlist other manufacturers and suppliers who are directly involved in the E-AB movement. Its membership list increased from 14 to 20 at the first organizational meeting.
"We have a lot to address in the area of safety," said VanGrunsven. "At the same time, we are also eager to engage in programs and projects that will promote the educational and enjoyable aspects of aircraft construction."