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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

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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.

GOAL

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.

METHODOLOGY

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.

RECOMMENDATIONS

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:

Industry:

*** 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.

FAA:

*** 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.

 



 

 
 

Phoenix Air USA imports the beautiful Phoenix Special Light-Sport Aircraft, a performance motorglider that can cruise swiftly and serve both functions with excellent creature comfort. Given its clever wing extension design, you get two aircraft in one!

Zenith Aircraft is one of America's leading kit suppliers featuring well proven models from legendary designer, Chris Heintz. Centrally based in Mexico, Missouri, Zenith offers kit aircraft for several popular models.

Tecnam is the world's leading manufacturer of Light-Sport-eligible aircraft offering five models. The world's fastest-selling light twin, a four seat single engine model, and an 11-seat twin complete the range.

U.S. Sport Aircraft Importing represents the popular SportCruiser, one of the best selling Special Light-Sport Aircraft among 130 models on the market. The Texas-headquartered importer has long represented this familiar model.

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.

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

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.

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.

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!
CTLSi

Pipistrel has designed and manufactures a range of beautiful, sleek aircraft that have found markets around the world. Starting with gliders and motorgliders, Pipistrel now offers a line of powered aircraft using multiple power sources.

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?

Vickers Aircraft has created one of the most distinctive new LSA seaplanes yet to emerge.Powered by the 180-horsepower
Lycoming O-360, their Wave model is like no other seaplane ever introduced with multiple features to set it apart from the crowd.
Wave

Aeromarine-LSA represents an economical Part 103 ultralight that is within reach of almost any budget. For local fun flying, or for those who enjoy soaring flight Zigolo is light enough to be lifted by even the most gentle thermals.


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.

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.

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.

Kitfox is one of the world's best selling light aircraft kits with more than 5,000 delivered. With unrivaled name recognition, Kitfox is admired for crisp handling, excellent performance, easily folded wings, and more. The design is flown around the world.

Quicksilver Aeronautics is the world's largest producer of ultralight aircraft, selling some 15,000 aircraft. The company's designs are thoroughly tested, superbly supported, and have an excellent safety record.

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.

SkyCraft Airplanes is America’s first Light-Sport Aircraft single seater. SD-1 Minisport is affordably priced, very well equipped, and was designed to exhibit docile handing qualities. It can be flown for less than $12 per hour.

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.

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.

World Aircraft Company is Columbian design expertise joined to Canadian entrepreneurship based in Paris, Tennessee USA. Welcome to World Aircraft and a brand-new short takeoff and landing (STOL) Light-Sport Aircraft, the all-metal Spirit.

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.

CubCrafters is the best selling Light-Sport Aircraft in recent years. Their success formula: reinvent an iconic design using computer analysis and modern materials, give it more power, features and a finer finish, upgrade it steadily, and do it all in the USA.

Corbi Air represents the Made-for-Americans Direct Fly Alto 100. Created in the Czech Republic, Alto 100 was upgraded for USA sales and the result is a comfortable, handsome low wing, all-metal LSA with features you want.

Renegade Light Sport produces the sexy low wing, all composite Falcon in America. The Florida company has also established itself as the premiere installer of Lycoming’s IO-233 engine.

Jabiru USA builds the spacious and speedy J-250 and more recently J-230 plus the training-optimized J-170, each certified as Special LSA. The Tennessee-based company also imports and services the popular Jabiru engine line.


Super Petrel LS, manufactured by Edra Aeronautica in Brazil and represented by Florida Light Sport Aviation, is a unique and highly effective LSA seaplane. A biplane design, this is well established flying boat with more than 20 years of history.


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