Pipistrel Back In Business In U.S.

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Pipistrel Aircraft is back in business in the U.S. after the FAA re-examined its position on the manufacturing site of the speedy composite LSAs and ended an import ban on the aircraft. As we reported in Wednesday's AVwebBiz, Pipistrel spokesman Michael Coates said the FAA imposed the ban after a staff member was unable to verify the location of Pipistrel's Italian factory on Google Earth. After a late-night inquiry by AVweb on Tuesday, the FAA issued the following statement Wednesday:

Earlier this year, Pipistrel's Italian-based light-sport aircraft subsidiary submitted an application to the FAA for special LSA airworthiness certification on a Taurus 503 motor glider. The FAA wanted to ensure that the application included sufficient proof the aircraft were built in Italy. We now believe we have sufficient evidence that the aircraft are manufactured at the Italian facility. We will contact Mr. Coates of Pipistrel to resolve the remaining issues. In describing the various aspects of our inquiry, staff anecdotally indicated that the Pipistrel LSA SRL facility was not visible on Google Earth, but that was not an official factor in considering the application.

Pipistrel's home base is in Slovenia, a few miles from the Italian border. Because Slovenia does not have a bilateral agreement with the FAA on aircraft certification, it cannot send aircraft from its main factory to the U.S. To get access to the U.S. market the company built a factory in Italy, which does have a bilateral agreement with the U.S. Coates told AVweb the FAA has been invited on numerous occasions to visit the plant but has never done so.