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FAA Assessment Report

By Dan Johnson, June 6, 2010

The following is taken from FAA's "Light-Sport Aircraft Manufacturers Assessment" Final Report issued May 17, 2010. It has not been edited or changed in any way other than to format for Web posting.

Light-Sport Aircraft Manufacturer Assessment
----- Final Report -----
Issued May 17, 2010


This report presents the results of the Light-sport Aircraft Manufacturers Assessment (LSAMA), (herein referred to as assessment and team). This executive summary briefly discusses the assessment team's analysis, conclusions, and recommendations based on data collected during the assessment.


The assessment team's goal was to review current LSA manufacturing industry systems and processes through on-site evaluation, analysis, and reporting. The team was also tasked to recommend enhancements to industry consensus standards for LSA design, manufacturing, continued airworthiness, and maintenance and FAA processes and procedures. The team's methodology was to collect data from LSA manufacturers, including their extensions and distributors, located in the United States. The team collected data on LSA industry compliance with applicable regulations, standards, and existing processes.


The team developed survey questions and data gathering tools, performed evaluations, analyzed collected data, and developed conclusions and recommendations. The team designed the questions to evaluate the LSA industry's understanding and application of applicable regulations, standards, processes and procedures. The team developed conclusions and recommendations based on the analysis of the collected data, team observations, and comments and suggestions of individuals the team interviewed during the assessment.

The team evaluated 14 manufacturers, including their extensions and 16 distributors. This sample of 30 LSA facilities established a 93 percent confidence level that the results of this assessment represent the LSA industry as a whole. The assessment surveys began in September 2008 and were completed in March 2009. The assessment survey participants were cooperative and provided unrestricted access to their LSA facilities. They exhibited a willingness and desire to build and promote safe LSA.


This [Manufacturers Assessment report from May 17, 2010] identifies four areas that need minor to significant improvement. Deficiencies vary from facility to facility, by degree, quantity, and type.

1. Compliance with FAA-accepted consensus standards

The majority of LSA facilities surveyed could not fully demonstrate their ability to comply with certain consensus standards. The assessment indicates that manufacturers are making statements of compliance for aircraft that may not fully meet certain consensus standards. We have concluded that relying solely on the manufacturer's statements of compliance, for the issuance of airworthiness certificates, should be reconsidered.

2. Implementation of manufacturing systems

Some manufacturers have failed to implement widely accepted internal quality control and production procedures that are necessary to assure minimal compliance to the ASTM consensus standards. Many manufacturers also lacked corrective action systems used to address systemic deficiencies. Further compounding this scenario is the fact that current consensus standards identify only minimum requirements without a systems-based approach which only exacerbates procedural and record keeping weaknesses. We conclude that these lack of controls may result in the production and distribution of such poorly documented aircraft that it may be very difficult to verify conformity.

Distributors have not developed and implemented manufacturing and quality system procedures for many of the tasks they perform. When distributors perform assembly, inspections, and other functions, they seldom use the manufacturers' procedures, records, or controls. The consensus standards do not require distributors to use process control procedures and as a result, distributors have only partial manufacturing and quality system procedures and associated records. We conclude that the consensus standards need revision to require documented controls and processes for assembly and other production functions that distributors perform prior to airworthiness inspections and flight.

3. Understanding FAA regulatory requirements, policy and guidance, and industry consensus standards

We conclude that industry and FAA designees have inadequate knowledge of FAA regulatory requirements and policies and ASTM/industry consensus standards. The evidentiary factors for this conclusion include: (1) inadequate application of manufacturing process procedures necessary to establish eligibility, (2) misinterpretations of the intent of FAA regulatory requirements, policy and guidance, and industry consensus standards, (3) misinterpretations of overall roles and responsibilities of the various industry entities (manufacturers, their extensions and distributors), (4) non-standardized methods and sequencing of airworthiness certification, and (5) uncertainty of appropriate contacts for needed guidance.

4. Industry's system for managing, assessing, and maintaining the effectiveness of the consensus standards

The industry does not have a means to communicate with manufacturers on how to comply with the requirements of the consensus standards. We conclude that the process for evaluating compliance with the standards and taking corrective action needs significant improvement. Additionally, the process for maintaining and updating consensus standards needs improvement.


The team developed its recommendations based on data analysis, conclusions, trending indicators, and industry responses to a questionnaire. Specific recommendations are located in section 2.1 through 2.8 of this report, and the following summarizes those recommendations:


*** Take immediate steps to fully comply with FAA regulatory and consensus standard requirements.

*** Standardize the continuous airworthiness notification process for all LSA types.

*** Develop training to ensure industry fully understands FAA regulatory and policy requirements, and the methods and means to comply with those requirements.

*** Establish periodic meetings between FAA and industry to work toward full compliance to FAA regulatory and consensus standard requirements.

*** Conduct an initial conformity inspection of all first-time-manufactured LSA models.

*** Continue assessments of manufacturers, extensions, and distributors.

*** Review current accepted consensus standards for adequacy and revise existing standards or create new standards where necessary.


*** Update existing policy (Advisory Circulars and Orders) pertaining to airworthiness certification requirements, registration marking, and designee management.

*** Update Designated Airworthiness Representative(s) (DAR) and advisor training.

*** Establish a process to receive safety alerts, directives, and other pertinent information.

*** Continue oversight of the LSA manufacturers to assure compliance with FAA requirements and ASTM consensus standards.

If you wish to download a PDF file version of the full-length "Final Report from FAA," click here.

An even longer "Industry Participant Supplemental" report was offered only to companies that were assessed. The Supplemental Report reaches no new conclusions but supplies additional detail.




BRM Aero manufacturers the handsome Bristell all-metal SLSA. This highly evolved, next-generation Light-Sport was carefully engineered for luxury, comfort, excellent stability, and safety while being fun, fast, and easy to fly.

Progressive Aerodyne designed and supplies the SeaRey series, arguably the most celebrated of all light seaplanes in America. A close community of hundreds of owners offers camaraderie few other brands can match.

Aerotrek Aircraft imports the A240 and A220 tricycle gear or taildragger Special Light-Sport Aircraft. A finely finished aircraft at an excellent price, Aerotrek has wide, affordable appeal.

Arion Aircraft has designed and built one of the most beautiful low wing entries in the Special LSA and kit-built aircraft sector. The all-American designed and built aircraft is priced fairly and flies wonderfully ... need you search for more?

Aeromarine-LSA represents economical aircraft like Merlin PSA, fully enclosed and all-metal for less than $35,000; or Part 103 ultralights like Zigolo, a dual-purpose ultralight and motorglider with prices starting at only $12,000.

Evolution Trikes developed and continues to refine their Revo, an absolutely magnificent weight shift control aircraft (or trike). Rev is their new very affordable single place machine.

Remos AG is the manufacturer of the next generation GXiS. This beautiful composite design built by German craftsmen offers excellent performance, light responsive handling, and a deluxe cockpit finish to please any aviator.

Super Petrel LS, manufactured by Scoda Aeronautica in Brazil and built by Super Petrel USA, a branch of the Brazilian company in Ormond Beach, Florida, is a unique and highly effective LSA seaplane. This biplane flying boat is well established with more than 20 years of history.

Tecnam is the world's leading manufacturer of Light-Sport aircraft offering more models and variations than any other producer.

Besides the world's fastest-selling light twin and their new P2010 four seater, Tecnam offers these LSA: P-92 Eaglet, Astore, and P2008.

Many Light-Sport Aircraft & General Aviation models

Lockwood Aircraft is the builder of two of light aviation's best-recognized flying machines: AirCam and the Drifter line. Most sport aviators already know the Lockwood brand, a leader in Rotax maintenance and aircraft services.

Vickers Aircraft has created one of the most distinctive new LSA seaplanes yet to emerge. Powered by the 180-horsepower
Titan IO-340CC by Continental Motors, their Wave model is like no other seaplane ever introduced with multiple features to set it apart from the crowd.

Jabiru USA assembles the spacious and speedy J-230 with new, more attractive pricing making the model one of the best values in Light-Sport Aircraft.

The Shelbyville, Tennessee company also offers the Jabiru engine line with new 3310 and 2210 models in 2016.

J230-D & J170-D

Flight Design USA imports CT, the top selling Light-Sport Aircraft. CT is a 98% carbon fiber design
with superb performance, roomy cockpit, great useful load, and a parachute as standard equipment ... the market leader for 10 years!

Glasair Aviation became famous for their Glasair series. Today the Washington state company is focused on the newer Sportsman in several varieties and on Merlin LSA. Later in 2017, buyers can buy a Merlin in fully-ready-to-fly form from this much-admired company renown for its top-tier customer service.

Hansen Air Group represents recognized brands in the LSA
space: FK Lightplanes and their distinctive biplane Comet, FK9, and FK51 plus the great-flying Magnaghi Sky Arrow. Based in Atlanta, Georgia Hansen Air Group is an experienced player in the LSA space.
Multiple LSA

BushCat is the distinctive Light-Sport Aircraft within reach of almost any budget. With a solid heritage BushCat by SkyReach is fun, capable, and available as a kit, fully-built SLSA or ELSA.

Sonex Aircraft is one of aviation's best-known brands offering exciting performance, easy building, prices to match the budgets of most pilots, and you will do business with some fine people. Taking years of success to new heights, Sonex debuted the "B" models with numerous upgrades.

Triton America started with a familiar-looking LSA model and significantly improved it, making it stronger while preserving the well-regarded flight characteristics. Welcome to a newcomer with lots of experience and their new Skytrek.

Bristell USA distributes the highly-refined Bristell aircraft in North America. The Czech-built aircraft is a 5th generation design with excellent performance, wonderful handling, and a most appealing shape. Other airplanes may look similar but Bristell has gone far beyond.

SilverLight Aviation created the first all-American gyroplane with modern sophistication and equipment, built by a proven expert. Gyroplanes like AR1 fly much like fixed wings but with real advantages.

American Legend has been in the LSA space since the beginning, offering their iconic yellow taildragger. The Texas company offers a full line of LSA and kit-built aircraft including the 180-horsepower Super Legend HP.

Aero Adventure offers what is likely the lowest cost boat-hull seaplane in the light aircraft space with a kit that, complete with engine, sells for less than $50,000. Add a long history to its credit and Aventura is a seaplane worthy of a close look.

Aerolite 103 is a remarkably well priced (way below $20,000), well-equipped, Part 103 ultralight that flies beautifully. Several hundred are airborne and production has never been more solid. Here is an airplane every pilot can love and afford.

The Airplane Factory (TAF) produces the Sling series of world-circling aircraft (literally) and now this fine-flying, all-metal beauty is available in the United States as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Here is an LSA to follow.

X-Air brings a return to reasonably priced Light-Sport Aircraft, with a ready-to-fly flying machine you can purchase for a genuinely low price. No new arrival, X-Air has a rich history in light aviation.

Murphy Aircraft offers a wide range of highly capable aircraft from the light biplane RENEGADE to their newest RADICAL with many variations in between. Years of design and manufacturing experience combine with modern computer-based tooling to make solid, well performing aircraft kits.

North Wing is America's leading manufacturer of weight shift LSA and Part 103 ultralight trikes. The company's wing designs are so good that most other trike manufacturers use them. Aircraft prices are highly affordable by all.

SportairUSA imports the dashing and superbly-equipped StingSport S4 that has won a loyal following from American pilots. More recently, they introduced their TL-3000 high-wing LSA. SportairUSA is a full-line operation with maintenance and training, too.

Evektor is Number One and always will be. The Czech company's SportStar was the number one SLSA to win approval but engineers have steadily improved the model far beyond that 2005 version that started the race.

Just Aircraft has delivered more than 300 kit aircraft since 2002, but in 2012 they electrified pilots with the awesome performance of their all-new SuperSTOL. It may look extreme and performs extremely well, but it is truly docile and forgiving to fly.

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