LightSportGyroplanes.comThursday September 24, 2020
SLSA Gyroplanes: A Disparity
Furthermore, the manufacturer must ensure its production of these aircraft is compliant with an industry consensus standard for manufacturing, including quality standards for materials, fabrication, and assembly.
After the aircraft are built and placed in operation, the manufacturer must adhere to an industry consensus standard for monitoring safety-of-flight issues, including making provision for any such issues that arise and providing a way of alerting owners of those issues.
An important benefit of having SLSA gyroplanes—ones that are factory-built and that are designed, produced, and monitored in conformance with an industry consensus standard—is that they would be built consistently to quality standards and that they would have demonstrated conformance to an industry-accepted standard of performance, leading to a greater assurance that these gyroplanes are stable and safe.
As with other light-sport aircraft, before there can be factory-built SLSA gyroplanes in the US, there must be an industry consensus standard for them. That standard for gyroplanes exists. It was developed shortly after the LSA/SP regulations were implemented and the FAA has accepted it. Yet, the disparity in FAR 21.190(a) still exists and the FAA still prevents pilots from flying factory-built, SLSA gyroplanes
It’s ironic that when the LSA/SP regulations were implemented, the FAA blocked factory-built SLSA gyroplanes due to its concern that there were too many accidents involving gyroplanes, virtually all of which were amateur-built, yet by blocking factory-built SLSA gyroplanes, the result is that today virtually the only gyroplanes being flown are still amateur-built.
In 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released findings from a study entitled “The Safety of Experimental Amateur-Built Aircraft”. In summary, the study found that Experimental Amateur-Built (EAB) aircraft represented nearly 10 percent of the general aviation fleet, yet accounted for approximately 15 percent of the accidents. Further, the study found that EAB aircraft accounted for 21 percent of the fatal accidents during the year 2011. The NTSB report included this observation
E-AB aircraft vary considerably with respect to structural and performance characteristics, some of which require specific training …
EAB aircraft are typically built by persons who aren’t professional aircraft builders. With many homebuilders, even an EAB aircraft built from a kit can vary considerably in structural characteristics due to varying degrees of builders’ construction skills as well as the different choices that an individual builder may make in substituting different materials or in modifying a kit. In general, EAB aircraft are less likely to be consistently built than aircraft produced in a factory where there is a quality assurance plan for materials and with periodic inspections to ensure conformance to a defined assembly and production plan.
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