Monday, 10 August 2009

CAA issues LSA clarification

This is the SportCruiser, one of the new breed of aircraft hoping to get a Permit while waiting for EASA to finalise the regulations. There are others, some have Permits (CTLS, Remos G3), some are still waiting (SportCruiser, SuperStar). Those with Permits have non-renewable Permits, when/if those without get their Permits they'll also be non-renewable. The plan is that by the time their two-year Permit expires, EASA will have it all sorted, and the manufacturers will have the required Part 21 approvals.

The CAA has recently issued a letter, which suggests that they are somewhat concerned about some of the incorrect information that is out there, including things that have been written by people who should know better in a magazine that should also know better.

Here's the letter in full.

Dear Sir,

Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)

With the increasing interest in Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) it is important that operators and potential purchasers are aware of the current situation regarding the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) plans for the aircraft.

At present, EASA will provide ‘Flight Conditions’ for these aircraft. This potentially allows these aircraft to qualify for an EASA Permit to Fly (PtF), which will be issued by the State of Registry, e.g. the UK CAA. The aircraft are being delivered from the manufacturer, accompanied by an EASA Form 52. This attests to the build status of the aircraft but, at present, these documents have no legal validity as the production process currently sits outside of the established EASA Implementing Rules for certification under Part 21. This means that aircraft which have had a PtF issued, have not been designed or manufactured to a certificated standard and will be restricted in their use. For example, ab initio flying training or its use for hire and reward will not be permitted.

EASA has recently agreed to formalise the requirements for certification and manufacture of these LSA types. We believe that EASA intends that they will be designed to a code, Certification Specification (CS) -LSA, based on the US ASTM specification. It will also be a requirement that the production organisation be approved, in accordance with Part 21. In the absence of the Part 21 approval, the aircraft will not be eligible for anything other than a PtF and thus will be restricted in use.

Aircraft manufactured and delivered when the Part 21 production approval is in place will initially be issued with a PtF but once the aircraft has been evaluated against the design code, may be eligible for the issue of a CofA. EASA is considering further the likely operating rules that will apply to LSA aircraft with a CofA and it is hoped that this will include flying training.

There are three further points worth noting. Firstly, kit-built versions of these LSA aircraft will only be eligible for a National PtF, e.g. a UK National PtF issued by the CAA and administered through the Light Aircraft Association. Secondly, an aircraft with an EASA PtF is not necessarily eligible for flight in the airspace of another country, even the EU Member States, as EASA has yet to take on the legal competence for airspace use and access. Thirdly, LSA aircraft on a PtF cannot be hired out, this constitutes hire and reward, but can be operated by a group in accordance with the current group rules defined in the UK Air Navigation order (max 20 members sharing the costs).

In the meantime, prospective purchasers of these aircraft should be aware that the EASA requirements are not yet in place.

Jim McKenna

Head of Strategy, Policy and Standards

Airworthiness Division

Safety Regulation Group

Civil Aviation Authority

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