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EAA Obtains Clarification From FAA On E-LSA 'Inspections'

October 30, 2007 —The FAA has strongly clarified some misinformation that was significantly hampering some people's efforts to get their two-place ultralight trainers transitioned to the experimental light-sport aircraft category. At issue: some FAA inspectors and/or E-LSA designated airworthiness representatives (DARs) were requiring that an A&P or FAA-certificated mechanic inspect and certify an aircraft as "safe to fly" before performing a certification inspection.

That roadblock came down when 1) EAA members contacted EAA with complaints; 2) EAA investigated and found that pre-inspections are not required in the FARs; and 3) FAA's Frank Paskiewicz, manager of the production and airworthiness division (AIR-200), agreed with EAA and set the record straight with a clarifying memorandum to the field.

After receiving calls forwarded from EAA Aviation Services, EAA's Randy Hansen, director of government relations, revisited the sport pilot final rule and confirmed that no such "pre-inspection" requirement exists for transitioning E-LSA.

"There is no requirement for an A&P to sign off the initial experimental amateur-built airworthiness condition inspection," Hansen wrote to FAA on September 26, "and we know that a similar statement does not exist for the converting experimental LSA."

FAA Order 8130.2F does state that E-LSA conversion aircraft must be in a condition for safe operation as demonstrated through a review of the aircraft records and flight history, and/or a series of flight tests.

Hansen rightly asserted that when the owner signs the FAA form attesting to the airworthiness of the aircraft, the owner is confirming that the records review or the test flights have been completed, and as such, the aircraft is safe to fly.

About three weeks later, Paskiewicz issued a memorandum to all MIDO, MIO, MISO, FSDO, and the Flight Standards Regulatory Support Division (AFS-600), stating, in essence, that the EAA members were right:

"To clarify, there is no regulatory basis, policy, or guidance material requiring an applicant of an (E-LSA) to obtain an inspection by FAA certificated mechanics or repairmen prior to initial airworthiness inspection and experimental certification. Therefore, there is no requirement for this type of prior inspection to be documented in the aircraft records."

"This is an excellent example of the partnership that exists between EAA members and EAA staff; and EAA staff and the FAA," said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice-president of industry and regulatory affairs. "After EAA members reported a problem, EAA staff thoroughly investigated the issues and relayed those findings and concerns to the FAA. The FAA developed a comprehensive solution and issued corrective instructions quickly."

Members with questions concerning this issue should call EAA Information Services at 877-359-1232.

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