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Aero-TV: 'Airborne' Breaking News - The FAA Gets 'Serious' With The LSA Biz

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Published on Sep 8, 2011

Aero-TV: 'Airborne' Breaking News... The FAA Gets 'Serious' With The LSA Biz

The Grounding Of Criquet Aviation Raises Industry Fears About FAA Attitude Towards LSA

ANN RealTime Update, 09.08.11, 1121 ET: The FAA has refused further comment on this story and our attempts to interview staffers from AIR-200 have been politely turned away. Questions about the specifics of the grounding order and the reasons for its imposition remain unanswered.
ANN reported the first known 'grounding' of an LSA manufacturer, by the FAA, last week, when a memo produced by the FAA's AIR-200 was forwarded to us shortly after it was written.
The August 30th Memo sent to "All Manufacturing Inspection Offices, All Manufacturing District/Satellite Offices, All Certificate Management Offices/Units, All Flight Standards Divisions, All Flight Standards District Offices, and all Aircraft Registration Branch AFS-750 (with an additional notation recommending the memo's dissemination to "appropriate designees"), Terry Allen, the Acting Manager, Production and Airworthiness, for AIR-200. Allen appeared to many to be 'making good' on the FAA's promise/threat (issued last year after touring LSA facilities throughout the nation) to step up the surveillance and involvement in the LSA industry.
Using a "prototype LSA Audit Program", the FAA inspected Criquet Aviation USA, Inc., the manufacturers of the Storch FI-156 LSA. The result of this July 13 th audit, one of the first of its kind, was the rescinding of Criquet Aviation's ability to offer products with Special Flight Permits, S-LSA or E-LSA airworthiness certificates. In other words... grounded.
The Memo states that, "This memorandum prohibits the issuance of special flight permits, special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) and experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) airworthiness certificates to all Storch FI-156 airplanes manufactured by Criquet Aviation USA, Inc.
"On July 13th 2011 , the Production and Airworthiness Division, AIR-200, conducted a prototype of a national light-sport aircraft audit program at U-Fly-It, LSA, LLC. The prototype audit results indicated that U-Fly-It LSA and Criquet Aviation USA were unable to demonstrate that the current manufacturing and re-assembly system for aircraft model Storch FI-156 is in compliance with all FAA accepted consensus standards and regulatory requirements. The FAA has determined that a potential safety of flight issue may exist with Storch FI-156 models manufactured by Criquet Aviation USA, Inc.
"Effectively immediately, no Special Flight Permits, S-LSA or E-LSA airworthiness certificates will be issued to any Storch FI-156 airplane manufactured by Criquet Aviation USA, Inc., until further notice from AIR-200."
ANN immediately called the FAA (last week) in order to get additional info about the matter... and in particular, what issues were found to be serious enough to shut Criquet down. Late Wednesday, ANN received the following response from the FAA's Les Dorr...
"The FAA looked at several manufacturers, including Criquet, because of the findings from the previous LSA Manufacturers Assessment Project. Our assessments have shown some LSA manufacturers are not adhering to the consensus standards and federal regulations. As a result, the FAA is developing an oversight program and has begun to prototype it. Criquet Aviation's aircraft was part of the prototype effort. The aircraft was found not to comply with the FAA-accepted consensus standards and therefore was not in a condition for safe operation per the requirements of FAA regulations. We can't provide details because the particulars are proprietary.
There is no 'war' on the LSA business. The public and the industry have been briefed for quite some time that an FAA oversight program would be implemented as the result of the findings from the assessment project. We believe the assessment report is very clear on the issues and does not show any heavy-handedness."
A number of issues remain unresolved and unknown... i.e, what did Criquet do (or not do) that got their ability to produce LSAs suspended and what was involved in the process? We have asked for a direct dialogue with AIR-200 and are awaiting more info as soon as it becomes available. ANN is also in the process or awaiting a response from Criquet to see what they have to say about the matter...

Copyright 2011, Aero-News Network, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

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