[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 125 (Thursday, June 28, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 38463-38467]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15765]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 21

[Docket No. FAA-2012-0408]


Issuance of Special Airworthiness Certificates for Light-Sport 
Category Aircraft

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of policy; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Based upon its assessment of the special light-sport aircraft 
(SLSA) manufacturing industry, the FAA is issuing this notice of policy 
to inform the public of its policy for assessing the accuracy of 
declarations made in Statements of Compliance issued for aircraft 
intended for airworthiness certification as SLSA and to ensure that 
SLSA conform to identified consensus standards. Additionally, in 
response to findings noted in its assessment of the SLSA manufacturing 
industry, the FAA is reiterating its policy regarding the airworthiness 
certification of SLSA manufactured outside the United States.

DATES: Effective Date: This policy becomes effective September 26, 
2012.
    Comment Date: Comments must be received on or before July 30, 2012

ADDRESSES: You may send comments identified by Docket Number FAA-2012-
0408 using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your 
comments electronically.
     Mail: Send Comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. 
Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building 
Ground Floor, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 
20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room 
W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.
     Fax: (202) 493-2251.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning 
this policy statement, contact Richard Posey, Federal Aviation 
Administration,

[[Page 38464]]

Airworthiness Certification Branch AIR-230, FAA Headquarters, 800 
Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 385-
6378; fax: 202-385-6475 email: richard.posey@faa.gov. For legal 
questions concerning this policy statement, contact Paul Greer, AGC-
200, Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 
Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-
3083; email: paul.g.greer@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the following section, we discuss how you 
can comment on this policy statement and how we will handle your 
comments. Included in this discussion is related information about the 
docket, privacy, and the handling of proprietary or confidential 
business information. We also discuss how you can get a copy of this 
policy statement and related documents.

Comments Invited

    The FAA invites interested persons to participate in formulating 
this policy statement and request for comments by submitting written 
comments, data, or views. The most helpful comments reference a 
specific portion of the notice, explain the reason for any recommended 
change, and include supporting data. To ensure the docket does not 
contain duplicate comments, please send only one copy of written 
comments, or if you are filing comments electronically, please submit 
your comments only one time.
    We will file in the docket all comments we receive, as well as a 
report summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA personnel 
concerning this notice. Before acting on this notice, we will consider 
all comments we receive on or before the closing date for comments. We 
will consider comments filed after the comment period has closed if it 
is possible to do so without incurring expense or delay. We may change 
this policy in light of the comments we receive.
    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. 
Using the search function of our docket Web site, anyone can find and 
read the comments received into any of our dockets, including the name 
of the individual sending the comment (or signing the comment for an 
association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78) or you may visit http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov.
    To read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov at any time and follow the online instructions for 
accessing the docket or go to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the 
West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays.

Proprietary or Confidential Business Information

    Do not file in the docket information that you consider to be 
proprietary or confidential business information. Send or deliver this 
information directly to the person identified in the FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document. You must mark the 
information that you consider proprietary or confidential. If you send 
the information on a disk or CD-ROM, mark the outside of the disk or 
CD-ROM and also identify electronically within the disk or CD-ROM the 
specific information that is proprietary or confidential. When we are 
aware of proprietary information filed with a comment, we do not place 
it in the docket. We hold it in a separate file to which the public 
does not have access, and we place a note in the docket that we have 
received it. If we receive a request to examine or copy this 
information, we treat it as any other request under the Freedom of 
Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552). We process such a request under the DOT 
procedures found in 49 CFR part 7.

Availability of This Policy

    You can get an electronic copy using the Internet by--
    (1) Searching the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
    (2) Visiting the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/; or
    (3) Accessing the Government Printing Office's Web page at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.
    You can also get a copy by sending a request to the Federal 
Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence 
Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680. Make 
sure to identify the docket number or notice number of this policy 
statement. You may access all documents the FAA considered in 
developing this policy statement, including any analysis or technical 
reports, from the internet through the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
referenced in paragraph (1).

Background

    On July 24, 2004, the final rule, Certification of Aircraft and 
Airmen for the Operation of Light-Sport Aircraft, was published in the 
Federal Register (69 FR 44772). The rule established requirements for 
the issuance of airworthiness certificates for light-sport category 
aircraft under the provisions of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations 
(14 CFR) Sec.  21.190, Issue of special airworthiness certificates for 
light-sport category aircraft. Additionally, the rule established 
procedures for the airworthiness certification of these aircraft in 
accordance with industry-developed consensus standards. Through the use 
of consensus standards, the FAA believed that light-sport aircraft 
(LSA) could be designed, manufactured, and certificated with less FAA 
oversight than that required for an aircraft manufactured under type 
and production certification procedures.
    Persons presenting an aircraft for airworthiness certification in 
the light-sport category must provide the FAA with a Statement of 
Compliance (FAA Form 8130-15) issued by the aircraft's manufacturer 
indicating that the aircraft meets the provisions of an identified 
consensus standard that has been accepted by the FAA. Additionally, an 
aircraft presented for airworthiness certification as SLSA must be 
inspected to determine that it is in a condition for safe operation. 
This inspection is accomplished after the aircraft has been completed 
but before issuance of the airworthiness certificate. The airworthiness 
certification process also requires a review of the applicant's 
documentation supplied with the aircraft, which includes the 
manufacturer's Statement of Compliance.
    When originally proposing the rule, the FAA noted that an aircraft 
presented for airworthiness certification would be inspected by the FAA 
(or an FAA-designated representative) to determine that it is in a 
condition for safe operation. The person conducting the inspection 
would rely upon the manufacturer's Statement of Compliance to assist in 
determining that the aircraft meets the applicable consensus standards. 
At the time that the rule was originally proposed, the FAA indicated 
that it would follow this course of action unless FAA experience with a 
manufacturer dictated otherwise (67 FR 5378; February 5, 2002). This 
intent remained unchanged with publication of the final rule.
    As the number of aircraft certificated as SLSA rapidly grew, the 
FAA determined that it was appropriate to

[[Page 38465]]

conduct an assessment to evaluate the health, state of systems 
implementation, and compliance of the SLSA industry. From September 
2008 through March 2009, the Aircraft Certification Service, Production 
and Airworthiness Division (AIR-200) conducted an assessment of SLSA 
manufacturers by evaluating their systems and processes through on-site 
evaluation, analysis, and reporting.
    The FAA assessment team collected data from SLSA manufacturers 
(including their extensions and distributors located in the United 
States) regarding compliance with applicable regulations and standards. 
After reviewing this data the team recommended enhancements to industry 
consensus standards for LSA design, manufacturing, continued 
airworthiness, and maintenance. It also made recommendations for 
changes to agency internal processes and procedures. A copy of the 
report can be found in the docket for this notice.
    Among the report's conclusions, the FAA found that the majority of 
the manufacturing facilities evaluated could not fully substantiate 
that the aircraft for which they had issued Statements of Compliance 
did, in fact, meet the consensus standards identified in those 
documents. Therefore, the FAA could not determine that aircraft for 
which these statements were issued actually met the provisions of the 
identified consensus standards.
    The assessment raised concerns that the SLSA airworthiness 
certification process, as originally envisioned, does not always 
achieve its intended purpose. Additionally, the FAA was particularly 
concerned that SLSA manufacturers have not been sufficiently verifying 
that their continued airworthiness systems are functioning properly. 
The FAA has determined that its original policy of reliance on 
manufacturers' Statements of Compliance for the issuance of 
airworthiness certificates for SLSA under the provisions of Sec.  
21.190 should be reconsidered and that more FAA involvement in the 
airworthiness certification process for SLSA is warranted.

Manufacturer's Statement of Compliance

    The FAA notes that a manufacturer's Statement of Compliance 
presented during the airworthiness certification process for an SLSA 
must contain a statement that at the request of the FAA, the 
manufacturer will provide unrestricted access to its facilities. The 
Statement of Compliance, when signed by the aircraft's manufacturer, 
sets forth the manufacturer's consent to FAA inspection of its 
facilities and constitutes an assertion that the information contained 
in the document is true. If, upon examination, the FAA finds that the 
manufacturer's statements are not accurate, an airworthiness 
certificate will not be issued for that SLSA until it has been 
demonstrated that the aircraft meets the identified consensus standards 
and that the manufacturer is able to comply with the provisions of its 
Statement of Compliance. SLSA manufacturers signing a Statement of 
Compliance must ultimately be able to demonstrate their ability to 
carry out those functions and responsibilities referenced in the 
statement to the satisfaction of the FAA, and meet all other relevant 
airworthiness certification requirements.

SLSA Manufacturers

    The current process for airworthiness certification of SLSA is 
described in FAA Order 8130.2, Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft 
and Related Products. The process includes reviewing the applicant's 
documentation supplied with the aircraft, and verifying it agrees with 
the identification and description of the aircraft and that it conforms 
to applicable regulations. The FAA considers an SLSA manufacturer to be 
a person who not only can attest to meeting the provisions of 14 CFR 
21.190, but who can demonstrate these abilities to the satisfaction of 
the FAA. A person who cannot demonstrate these abilities, or complete 
the manufacturer's Statement of Compliance would not be considered a 
manufacturer.
    The Statement of Compliance issued for an SLSA in accordance with 
Sec.  21.190(c), by an SLSA manufacturer, must:
    (1) Identify the aircraft by make and model, serial number, class, 
date of manufacture, and consensus standard used;
    (2) State that the aircraft meets the provisions of the identified 
consensus standard;
    (3) State that the aircraft conforms to the manufacturer's design 
data, using the manufacturer's quality assurance system that meets the 
identified consensus standard;
    (4) State that the manufacturer will make available to any 
interested person the following documents that meet the identified 
consensus standard:
    (i) The aircraft's operating instructions.
    (ii) The aircraft's maintenance and inspection procedures.
    (iii) The aircraft's flight training supplement.
    (5) State that the manufacturer will monitor and correct safety-of-
flight issues through the issuance of safety directives and a continued 
airworthiness system that meets the identified consensus standard;
    (6) State that at the request of the FAA, the manufacturer will 
provide unrestricted access to its facilities; and
    (7) State that the manufacturer, in accordance with a production 
acceptance test procedure that meets an applicable consensus standard 
has--
    (i) Ground and flight tested the aircraft;
    (ii) Found the aircraft performance acceptable; and
    (iii) Determined that the aircraft is in a condition for safe 
operation.
    If a manufacturer cannot demonstrate it can perform the functions 
specified in the Statement of Compliance for an SLSA or cannot 
substantiate that those functions have been (or can be, as appropriate) 
accomplished, the FAA would not consider that person to be the 
manufacturer of the aircraft intended for airworthiness certification 
as an SLSA.
    Persons providing the FAA with a Statement of Compliance must 
understand the implications of making the statement. The FAA expects 
the Statement of Compliance to reflect the manufacturer's understanding 
of its responsibilities, its capability to execute those 
responsibilities fully, and a commitment to meeting its obligations in 
the future.
    The FAA is particularly concerned that manufacturers issuing a 
Statement of Compliance have a system to monitor and correct safety-of-
flight issues. The manufacturer therefore must be able to monitor and 
notify operators to correct unsafe conditions for as long as these 
aircraft are U.S.-registered. The manufacturer also is responsible for 
issuing corrective actions in accordance with its program to monitor 
and correct safety-of-flight issues and must notify the owners of the 
affected aircraft of these corrective actions. To ensure the success of 
the FAA's program for SLSA airworthiness certification, the FAA expects 
manufacturers to implement a vigorous system to monitor and correct 
safety-of-flight issues.
    SLSA manufacturers must be able to provide for the continued 
operational safety of their aircraft. In order to meet this obligation, 
which the manufacturer has accepted through its issuance of a Statement 
of Compliance, it must maintain adequate engineering data and 
engineering staff to monitor and correct safety-of-flight issues 
affecting the aircraft. This continuing obligation is incurred by both 
manufacturers who have issued Statements of Compliance

[[Page 38466]]

for aircraft that are currently certificated as SLSA and manufacturers 
who have issued Statements of Compliance for aircraft being presented 
for airworthiness certification.
    If, during the FAA's examination of an aircraft, it finds that the 
aircraft was received from a location outside the United States and 
only assembled within the United States, the requirements of 14 CFR 
21.190(d) must be met for the aircraft to be considered eligible for an 
airworthiness certificate. This is further clarified in the following 
section.

SLSA Manufactured Outside the United States

    Aircraft intended for airworthiness certification as SLSA that have 
been manufactured outside the United States must be manufactured in 
country with which the United States has a Bilateral Airworthiness 
Agreement concerning airplanes, a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement 
with associated Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness concerning 
airplanes, or an equivalent airworthiness agreement. The aircraft must 
also be eligible for an airworthiness certificate, flight 
authorization, or other similar certification in its country of 
manufacture. These requirements are set forth in 14 CFR 21.190(d).
    During the recent assessment, the FAA identified several anomalies 
involving aircraft manufactured outside the United States. These 
included:
     Aircraft manufactured outside the United States that were 
shipped disassembled to the United States, and assembled by U.S. 
persons who declared themselves to be the U.S. manufacturers. The FAA 
found that some aircraft were manufactured in countries with a 
bilateral agreement and some were not. In both situations, the U.S 
persons who performed the assembly did not, or could not, carry out the 
functions to which they attested in their Statements of Compliance for 
the aircraft.
     Aircraft manufactured in countries without bilateral 
agreements that were ``passed through'' a country with which the U.S. 
has a bilateral agreement. A person in the country with which the U.S. 
has a bilateral agreement completed the Statement of Compliance before 
shipping the aircraft to the United States. Again, these persons did 
not, or could not, carry out the functions to which they attested in 
their Statements of Compliance for the aircraft.
     Aircraft for which a foreign entity claimed responsibility 
for certain aspects of the Statement of Compliance and a U.S. person 
claimed responsibility for the remaining aspects, thereby splitting the 
manufacturer's responsibility between two distinct persons; and
     Aircraft manufactured in countries with appropriate 
bilateral agreements by entities that would ship the aircraft to a U.S. 
distributor. Neither the U.S. distributor nor the foreign entity could 
maintain a program to correct safety-of-flight issues as attested to in 
the aircraft's Statement of Compliance.
    The assessment clearly identified that aircraft have been supplied 
to U.S. persons who lack the ability to reasonably attest to the 
provisions set forth in Sec.  21.190(c). Additionally, U.S. persons 
have been providing the FAA with a manufacturer's Statement of 
Compliance identifying themselves as the U.S. manufacturer of an 
aircraft when the aircraft was in fact produced outside the United 
States. These situations are not in compliance with the regulations. 
The FAA did not intend for U.S. persons to receive disassembled LSA 
from outside the United States, reassemble them within the United 
States, and characterize themselves as the U.S. manufacturer of an 
SLSA. As these persons cannot substantiate the information contained in 
the Statement of Compliance, the FAA does not consider them to be the 
manufacturers of the aircraft. Accordingly, the FAA will not issue 
airworthiness certificates in the light-sport category for these 
aircraft.
    Additionally, persons who are unable to make available the 
documents required by the consensus standards and regulations, do not 
have the systems in place to monitor and correct safety-of-flight 
issues, or are unable to adequately ensure the continued airworthiness 
of the aircraft they assemble, would not be able to sign a Statement of 
Compliance as a manufacturer. The FAA also notes that any person who 
makes any fraudulent, intentionally false, or misleading statement on 
the Statement of Compliance could be found to be in violation of 14 CFR 
21.2.
    The FAA recognizes that it may be possible for a U.S. person to 
receive portions of a LSA from an entity outside the United States that 
is acting as a supplier to the U.S. SLSA manufacturer. If this person 
signs a Statement of Compliance, this person is asserting that the 
declarations made in the statement are true, and that the person can 
fulfill the responsibilities set forth in that statement. While some of 
the U.S. SLSA manufacturers can meet this standard; the FAA has 
concerns that many cannot substantiate the declarations made in their 
Statement of Compliance when the majority of the production activity 
for the aircraft takes place outside the United States.
    The provisions of Sec.  21.190(d) were enacted to ensure that a 
bilateral agreement would exist which would provide the FAA with a 
means, if necessary, to seek assistance from local civil aviation 
authorities on any issues affecting the design, production, continued 
airworthiness, or other matters needing investigation or analysis (69 
FR 44806). Any attempts to circumvent the provisions of Sec.  21.190(d) 
significantly hinder the FAA's ability to address safety issues 
affecting aircraft certificated as SLSA.

Effect of This Policy Statement

    The FAA's actions are intended to ensure compliance with existing 
regulations and enhance the safety of the existing and future SLSA 
fleet. The FAA recognizes that these actions may impact existing SLSA 
manufacturers as well as those persons intending to initiate SLSA 
production. The FAA has established a Frequently Asked Questions page 
at http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/gen_av/light_sport/ to assist current 
manufacturers in assessing their own capabilities, and ensuring that 
the Statements of Compliance they issue are accurate.
    Aircraft that were issued an airworthiness certificate prior to the 
effective date of this notice are not affected by this policy statement 
provided all other applicable requirements are met.
    The FAA recognizes that upon implementation of this policy, some 
entities who have claimed to be SLSA manufacturers may not be able to 
issue a valid Statement of Compliance, and that other entities may not 
be willing to assume responsibility for continuing operational safety 
requirements. Therefore, aircraft within the existing fleets from these 
manufacturers may no longer be eligible to retain their airworthiness 
certification as SLSA. These aircraft, however, may be eligible for 
airworthiness certification as experimental light-sport aircraft 
(ELSA). The FAA does not intend to accept continued operational safety 
responsibility for an SLSA whose manufacturer no longer exists or is 
unable or unwilling to assume that responsibility. The FAA also 
recognizes that some aircraft that are primarily manufactured outside 
the United States and assembled in the United States may be found to be 
ineligible for airworthiness certification as SLSA or ELSA.


[[Page 38467]]


    Issued in Washington, DC, on June 19, 2012.
Frank P. Paskiewicz,
Deputy Director, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-15765 Filed 6-27-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P