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EASA Moves Toward LSA Standards

Europeans release certification specification for LSA

July 14, 2011 – EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) has released its Certification Specification for Light-Sport Aircraft (CS-LSA). Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA), said, “While this is not exactly what the LSA industry hoped for, it represents acceptance of the ASTM certification standards, and it will reduce uncertainty for LSA producers in the European theater. For American producers hoping to sell across the Atlantic, CS-LSA presents an expensive choice. With the dollar low and the euro high, made-in-the-USA aircraft could enjoy a price advantage if they were to sell into Europe.”

Jan Fridrich, a member of the LAMA Europe board, said, “This is definitively a positive step from EASA, as they have practically accepted ASTM standards.” Jan explained, “[But] this is not a self declarative system [like the ASTM standards in the U.S.], it is another airworthiness code, which a manufacturer can choose in lieu of full EASA type certification.” In Europe, any manufacturer hoping to produce more than a prototype airplane must achieve Design Organization Approval (equivalent to a type certificate) and Production Organization Approval (equivalent to a production certificate). Gaining those approvals can run tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unlike FAA, which provides oversight with taxpayer dollars, EASA assesses fees that are paid by the companies being reviewed. EASA charges nearly $300 per hour per man for a minimum of two inspectors, including travel time.

What does this mean to American LSA buyers? Companies could go two ways: A larger company might pay EASA’s fees and then factor some portion of those costs into the price they charge for their LSA, and smaller companies may simply say they cannot afford EASA’s bill and cease LSA production. Choices of LSA could get narrower.

According to Johnson, some observers believe this could actually help American producers compete because two-thirds of the 118 special LSA available in the U.S. come from Europe. Manufacturers selling to the U.S. that are based outside EASA jurisdiction might gain some price advantage.

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