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Politics and Light-Sport Aircraft

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Most aviators are fairly non-political. When opinions are expressed they often speak to an interest in greater freedom,at least for those tens of thousands who are involved in the recreational side of aviation. Pilots involved with commercial transport or freight live with government agencies as an integral part of their lives. But folks who fly for fun would rather aviate than politic.

Yet we have a Light-Sport Aircraft segment of aviation because of a government action. Many aren’t aware of 1995’s National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act. “Ho hum... another government act,” you say? I feel your pain, but in this case the law enacted during the Clinton Administration brought about a sea change.

We would likely not have Light-Sport Aircraft today if it were not for the NTTA Act. According to a presentation given to FAA personnel, the Act instigated at least three actions:

(1) It established policies on federal use and development of voluntary consensus standards and on conformity assessment activities.

(2) It directs agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in lieu of government-unique standards except where inconsistent with law or otherwise impractical.

(3) It is intended to reduce to a minimum the reliance by agencies on government unique standards.

Despite this demand to use private sources for actions like certification, aviation freedom does not protect itself. It requires constant vigilance.

The Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association is working to preserve the opportunities made available by the passage of the NTTA Act.

WHAT ACTIONS IS INDUSTRY TAKING?
Working with a large group of European producers, LAMA formed LAMA Europe. These two grassroots organizations supporting the LSA producer industry have two primary objectives.

Maintaining Current Freedom in the USA — In mid-May FAA released their long-awaited Assessment report.

The report is “tough love,” with numerous statements showing FAA believes the industry is not complying as fully as desired with ASTM standards or the agency’s regulations.

The report is not all bad, but it implies a heavier hand could be coming unless improvements are made. A better organized and better prepared industry is essential to maintain our current freedoms. According to several highly placed FAA officials, LAMA is FAA’s link to the industry and a manufacturers association able to perform audits can help achieve full compliance.

Fighting High Government “Fees & Charges” in Europe — In Europe, EASA is threatening costly “Fees and Charges.” The European Union system of government requires EASA (the EU equivalent of FAA) to pay its own way via costly fees and charges.

Americans may not relate, since FAA oversight is “free.” For businesses representing a European brand, this could raise costs significantly. It may even force some manufacturers to cease LSA production. And American producers who want to sell into Europe will pay many tens of thousands of euros, every year, to comply… unless the plan can be changed. That is the main reason why LAMA helped to form LAMA-Europe in April, to lobby against these high fees. More than 30 companies signed a declaration to pursue LAMA-Europe.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?
If you find LAMA’s goals worthy, your business can support these initiatives by joining the organization. Manufacturers of any aviation products sold to the LSA industry are welcome.

But so are importers, dealers, flight schools or any other enterprise that does business with Light-Sport Aircraft producers.

Stop by the LSA Mall at AirVenture 2010 and speak to a LAMA representative. Or if you’re reading this at home, you can visit www.LAMA.bz.

Your support will be appreciated.

Light Aviation Edition July 2010

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