FAA: SLSA Certification Should Be Reconsidered

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An FAA assessment of SLSA manufacturers has found that "the majority" of manufacturers evaluated failed to prove compliance with the category's standards, and that could affect the certification status of some aircraft. The FAA announced its findings Thursday, stating that "aircraft within the existing fleets" of manufacturers not able to issue a valid Statement of Compliance "may no longer be eligible to retain their airworthiness certification as SLSA." Those aircraft may be eligible for ELSA certification, the FAA said. But the FAA also noted that a specific range of aircraft (not insignificant in number) may find even less favor from the current regulatory structure. The FAA "has determined that its original policy of reliance on manufacturers' Statements of Compliance" ... "should be reconsidered." Precisely how the FAA's notice will impact the existing fleet, and when, may require more clarification.

President of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, Dan Johnson, told Bloomberg News that the agency was "just getting started." According to the FAA, "Aircraft that were issued an airworthiness certificate prior to the effective date of this notice are not affected by this policy statement provided all other applicable requirements are met." The agency has posted a frequently asked questions page for manufacturers, here. However, "some aircraft that are primarily manufactured outside the United States and assembled in the United States may be found to be ineligible for airworthiness certification as SLSA or ELSA."

The FAA's assessment identified several problem areas, including manufacturers that do not have bilateral agreements with the U.S. but passed aircraft to the U.S. through countries that do have such agreements. The FAA says SLSA manufacturers "must be able to provide for the continued operational safety of their aircraft." And to do that, they have to maintain adequate engineering staff and data to monitor and correct safety issues affecting their aircraft. The FAA says that based on its assessments, increased agency involvement in the airworthiness certification process is warranted. The FAA is accepting comments on the notice through July 30. Read the entire content of the FAA's position, here.