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European Regulatory Impact On LSA Market

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EASA, roughly Europe's FAA, has released certification specifications for light sport aircraft, and LSA watchdog Dan Johnson believes that could affect availability and pricing of European-made LSAs. The European regulatory agency has basically adopted ASTM standards. But unlike the FAA, which is funded by taxpayers, EASA is funded by fees and charges paid by the companies it reviews. That means meeting regulatory requirements can result in up-front costs and annual fees for airframe manufacturers in Europe. According to Johnson, that could mean one of two things for American buyers seeking European models: higher prices, or fewer options. But the outcome isn't yet certain.

With the current plan, "Either way, aircraft made in Europe and subject to EASA rules will experience upward price pressure," according to Johnson. But it's also possible that the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) Europe will succeed in pressuring the regulatory agency to create a self-declarative system. That would put it more in line with the current U.S. standards regarding LSA regulatory requirements. Regulations aside, exchange rates are also affecting the market. Currently the dollar is low and the euro is high. That situation creates unfavorable conditions for European manufacturers looking to sell their wares in the U.S., while it improves things for U.S. manufacturers seeking to sell products in Europe. It presents a double-negative for European manufacturers compounded by fees and charges associated with EASA regulation. Johnson speculates that unless things change, the situation may price some smaller European LSA manufacturers right out of the market.

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