FAA Completes Review of SLSA Certification Processes
June 10, 2010 — The FAA recently completed its assessment of certification processes and procedures for Special Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA). This was a project that EAA had asked the agency to complete during meetings with FAA officials at the 2008 Recreational Aviation Summit in Oshkosh.
The project’s goal was to collect data on the LSA manufacturing industry systems and processes, as well as FAA certification processes. It would help develop recommendations to improve quality and certification processes, and enhance overall safety.
“One of the hallmarks of the light-sport airplane standards when they were enacted in 2004 was the ability of the industry, government, and user groups to establish safe, viable standards for this brand-new segment of aviation,” said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. “Now that the light-sport aircraft fleet has grown to a point where more data is available, it was essential to know where the continuing improvement was most needed.”
The FAA report highlighted the need for this new industry to improve its knowledge of the ASTM International standards and the related FAA regulations. It also pointed out that some manufacturers have failed to implement widely accepted internal quality control and production procedures that are necessary to assure compliance with the ASTM consensus standards.
As part of this project, FAA began site visits in late 2008. These visits prompted manufacturers to increase their time and resources on quality assurance and production procedures. Also as a result of this initial effort, development of an ASTM Audit specification was reinitiated and is close to completion.
“Many of the issues mentioned in this report are already being addressed,” Lawrence said. “Maintaining and improving the highest standards of safety is the best way to ensure the growth of light-sport aircraft in future years.”
The ASTM Committee F-37and the LSA Joint Safety Committee, co-chaired by EAA and FAA, are actively working to address all of the findings.
EAA continues to stress to the manufacturing community the need to complete this audit standard and to implement third-party audits of their facilities, so independent verification of high standards is established.
EAA appreciates the work of the FAA SLSA Assessment team and will continue to work with industry and the FAA to implement the recommendations within the study. The SLSA industry is still a new one and this type of independent review is critical to the continued safe development of the SLSA industry.