FAA Seeks "Accountability" From LSA Industry

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An FAA official expressed concern at a recent industry meeting that light sport aircraft manufacturers need to do a better job of documenting their compliance with ASTM standards, EAA said last week. Earl Lawrence, the manager of the FAA Small Airplane Directorate, said it's important to get these basic tasks done right if the category is to be expanded, as some in the industry have proposed. The FAA is not interested in replacing the ASTM process with FAA certification, Lawrence said, but wants to see a successful, industry-led compliance and audit system in place. Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, told AVweb that LAMA has proposed mandatory third-party audits to address these issues.

Johnson said he believes the industry will rise to Lawrence's suggestion, and "will self-govern as intended." The LSA industry is only seven years old, he added, "which may seem like a long time, but the industry has accomplished an enormous amount of work in those years." FAA officials have found the safety record "acceptable," he said, though Lawrence said the FAA would like to see the LSA sector achieve a fatal accident rate equivalent or better than the existing "personal aviation" rate. After the recent meeting, Lawrence sent a letter (PDF) to all LSA manufacturers to be sure they are informed of the FAA's expectations.