Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Personal Aviation At A Crossroads
Looking back and moving forward
Photo by Dan Johnson
The self-declarative system isn’t new. It has been embedded in FAR Part 103 for ultralights since its inception in 1981. Twenty-three years later, the LSA rule shares a similar philosophy. Consistency between the rules can be found in the preambles where the FAA states its expectation that the industry take responsibility for developing and implementing aircraft safety standards, quality-assurance systems, maintenance requirements and a continued airworthiness process. By this, the FAA allows less expensive products to be produced for the market in a quicker time frame. (Having to go through the type-certification process is laborious and costly.) Similarly, the aircraft pilot and owner are given operating provisions that reflect the limited arena in which many casual weekend fliers partake for sport and recreation.
One of the major differences between the ultralight and light-sport rules is the required use of industry consensus standards. In the early ’80s, Larry Burke and others involved with the Powered Ultralight Manufacturers Association (PUMA) and, later, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) developed voluntary safety standards for ultralights. For some reason, however, the industry didn’t buy into the system and it languished with only a few manufacturers participating.
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