The FAA is edging its way toward tighter control of light sport aircraft (LSA) manufacturers. Under FAA 8130.2G Change 1, which took effect in July, FAA air safety inspectors (ASIs) and designated airworthiness inspectors (DARs) are required to notify FAA headquarters when a new LSA (make or model) is presented for their approval. Also, the inspectors must now notify FAA headquarters when a new company issues its first model.
This requirement is viewed by the industry as a ramp-up of FAA plans to conduct its own inspection of new LSAs for compliance with current approved standards set by ASTM. The FAA has created a group known as AIR-200 to oversee LSA conformity inspections.
There is another order scheduled for implementation next year that will detail how the inspections will be carried out. Originally expected to take effect in March 2013, the FAA LSA Manufacturer Oversight Order has been delayed, and a comment period was expected to start this month.
The FAA has conducted practice audits of some LSA manufacturers using a draft of the final order. In May 2010, the FAA issued a report on its planned assessment of LSA manufacturers. The agency noted a need to develop initial checks on new models for conformity with ASTM approval and regular oversight of manufacturers.