Al Marsh

FAA wants LSA paperwork to shine

June 29, 2012 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

Update: There seems to be less to the FAA complaints against the light sport industry than it first appeared. It turns out there was a small sample of companies examined, and of those, less than a majority had problems.

The FAA found that a few light sport manufacturers are lousy at paperwork. The airplanes are  safe, say industry experts, but the light sport industry can’t prove it, retorts the FAA. The agency filed a notice here. Initial media stories interpreted the FAA action as a damning one for the LSA industry–and with good reason. The initial document issued by the FAA looks unnecessarily damning. See a Bloomberg/Business Week story on the subject here. While the FAA originally announced that companies not in compliance with the paperwork will not gain approval for future models, that now looks like only one company is guilty.

There was concern that some of the LSA companies could not contact customers or were out of business. I have no idea if that complaint involves one company or many, but I am betting one to three at the worst. Another issue concerned foreign LSA manufacturers–operating in a country that does not have proper agreements with the FAA–approving their airplanes through a third-party country that has the necessary agreements with the United States. Again, it now appears that is one company.

The FAA did not provide numbers or company names, but other sources provided a broader perspective of the FAA concerns. I know of one company that is rushing to make its paperwork better–and I also know they are pretty good people. They’ll make it right. If there are more, I will happily report the accurate number of companies in trouble. But right now it looks like very few.

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