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LSA and VLA (merged)

LeSving wrote:

I really do not understand the LSA thing when we have microlights that do the same, only with zero bureaucracy and owner maintenance, and experimentals that do everything under the sun that an aircraft is capable of, with the same owner maintenance and relaxed bureaucracy.

LSA are allowed to use uncertified parts and certify these in accordance with the airframe. And it has less bureaucracy over (at least German) ULM, especially for the European pilot. But that one manufacturer has to go through the certification process just once and not separately for any nation they want to sell it, saves much bureaucracy. And then there is the advantage of a sensible useful load. I expect many “advanced ULM” to become LSA within the next few years and microlights going back to the intended class.

Experimental, on the other hand, demands a much, much more tech savvy owner / operator / pilot, than any LSA. Or a very great deal of blind faith. That’s not everyone’s piece of cake.

mh
Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany
I expect many “advanced ULM” to become LSA within the next few years and microlights going back to the intended class.

That makes sense. But I rather expect manufacturers, once they have a technically valid design, i.e. a plane basically safe to fly, will try to sell as many as they can with the least possible hassle – which might well mean they go on offering the same design with either a certificate for LSA or for the various ultralight requirements. The last point being left to “local” importers or distributors.

As for “the intended class”: I always understood the reasoning behind European ultralight regulations was “make it light, make it slow, and if ever things go wrong the damage to yourself will be much much worse than any damage to third parties so we reckon you’ll apply your own common sense” so yes, the 450 kg MTOW and 65 km/h stall speed make some sense, too. Whether these limitations are implemented in a trike or in a closed cockpit side by side two seater is less relevant, but why all European authorities turn a blind eye to the vast majority being flown overweight is beyond me. As long as nothing changes there, EU-LSA has no reason to exist.

Last Edited by at 25 Apr 19:40
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

mh wrote:

LSA are allowed to use uncertified parts and certify these in accordance with the airframe

Which means the manufacturer has the owner over a barrel as Peter put it, and can charge anything he wants for “certified” parts. Certification is for the authority to deal with, not the manufacturer. For instance, the aircraft manufacturer has a deal with Garmin. If you want something better, something else, this cannot be done by anyone except the manufacturer who got this super-deal with Garmin and has no intentions of changing that. What happens when the plane gets 10-15 years old and the manufacturer goes bankrupt? What if Garmin also goes bankrupt?

If the above is wrong, and anyone can certify new stuff for the aircraft through EASA, then it is a different scenario of course.

mh wrote:

Experimental, on the other hand, demands a much, much more tech savvy owner / operator / pilot, than any LSA. Or a very great deal of blind faith. That’s not everyone’s piece of cake.

There exist no statistics showing experimentals falling down more often than certified AC due to technical issues. They are equal in that respect. The matter is that some experimentals tends to be more difficult to fly and operate than certified aircraft, or has much higher performance. You have to remember that the average certified GA aircraft is a C-172, while the average experimental is a Lancair or RV and may have certain knobs and dials placed in “odd” positions.It is not the technical issues that are difficult, you can get a mechanic to do everything on an experimental. It’s the piloting skills that often needs to be better on an experimental, or at least you have to get some transition training. This is not any different than going from a C-172 and to a high performance Cirrus for instance, and few people do that without what? 10 hours of practice?. There has been lots of focus on that lately by the EAA. You have a similar issue with microlights. Microlights are so light that they lose energy considerably faster than the average certified GA or glider, and this can come as a surprise. It’s the same all over really. What kills are lack of pilot skills and lack of airmanship. Put some focus there instead of making up all kinds of rules, regulations and restrictions and “life saving” gadgets, and we will see the number of fatal accidents go down.

ENVA ENOP ENMO, Norway

There exist no statistics showing experimentals falling down more often than certified AC due to technical issues

This is off topic for LSA but I cannot possibly believe that.

I’ve read loads of pretty horrible and unusual homebuilt (in Europe, “experimental” is basically homebuilt) accident reports e.g. in-flight fires due to a fuel hose made of the wrong material. And this was from the UK, where some LAA inspector supposedly inspects and flight tests the plane every year. In most registrations nobody checks anything so you are relying totally on the builder (or whoever bought it from him) being technically savvy. Hence the additional restrictions on a non-builder owner. Plus a load of stories which never made any forum…

What happens when the plane gets 10-15 years old and the manufacturer goes bankrupt? What if Garmin also goes bankrupt?

There is an alternative POV on this: a business model where an aircraft mfg makes a plane and then doesn’t get a nice juicy parts and upgrades business, is likely to lead to the mfg going bankrupt Which is pretty well what has happened…

It will also lead to the maintenance business going bankrupt, or being reduced to a load of companies which make a living by scraping out the bottom of the barrel, employing low grade workforce which is paid 50% of the people who “fix” your VW. Which is pretty well what has happened, too…

Lycoming has been reduced to a company which is a small fraction of it’s former size, partly because GA has shrunk massively but also because there is a vast number of independent engine shops (and history has showed that most of them do a better job than Lyco).

Whether this is a good deal for the customer depends. For technically savvy people like e.g. @Silvaire, operating one of the 50-70 year old rag-and-tube designs, it doesn’t matter if the mfg goes bust because the aircraft contains no special parts except a widely used traditional engine. And sure enough all of those mfgs have gone bust a long time ago. On something like a TB20 it would be a huge problem unless it was operated under a very free regime.

This all leads to horrid airport politics, where some based maintenance company gets p1ssed off at people doing their own 50hr checks, so the airport bans it, and then most of the based pilots fly away for maintenance to somewhere where they can rent a hangar for the day, or a few days for the Annual.

So maybe the LSA system was an attempt to set up a long term viable supply chain?

I wonder if this thread should be under Non Certified

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

This is off topic for LSA but I cannot possibly believe that.

Well, I don’t believe in “believe”, I believe in facts I have posted this before also, but here is the report from NTSB who have done a large study on this particular topic. These were the key findings:

The pattern of study results identifies several safety-critical issues that, if addressed, could improve the E-AB aircraft accident record and better prepare pilots to operate E-AB aircraft. Study results indicate:

The largest proportion of E-AB aircraft accidents involved loss of control in flight and powerplant failures, and loss of control in flight has been the greatest contributor to fatal E-AB aircraft accidents.

More than one-half of the E-AB aircraft accidents investigated in 2011 were aircraft that had been purchased used, rather than built by the current owner.

A large proportion of accidents occurs early in the operating life of a new E-AB aircraft, or shortly after being purchased by a new owner.

During 2011, more E-AB aircraft accidents occurred during the first flight by a new owner of a used E-AB aircraft than during the first flight of a newly-built aircraft.

The most common accident occurrence for first flights of both newly-built and newly purchased aircraft was loss of control in flight.


As a group, the E-AB accident aircraft did not experience a large number of structural failures or problems related to the strength of a particular aircraft‘s structure. Rather, the occurrences of aircraft system and component malfunctions and failures were most often associated with non-structural systems and components and were typically unique to the accident aircraft.

Peter wrote:

I’ve read loads of pretty horrible and unusual homebuilt (in Europe, “experimental” is basically homebuilt) accident reports e.g. in-flight fires due to a fuel hose made of the wrong material. And this was from the UK, where some LAA inspector supposedly inspects and flight tests the plane every year. In most registrations nobody checks anything so you are relying totally on the builder (or whoever bought it from him) being technically savvy.

If this is true, and not some “believe”, this points to a major problem with the LAA. In most countries the experimental homebuilt aircraft “reports” directly to the CAA. I am not allowed to fly without the CAA doing an in person inspection of my aircraft. But, fuel related problems are also mentioned in the NTSB report. It is one of those things that are very easy to do wrong, but also very easy to fix and do right. It is not a major thing, just old fashioned sound engineering that any person with a minimum of technical knowledge or experience is able to do right the first time, from scratch. Problems arise when people with no technical experience try to reinvent the wheel themselves.

ENVA ENOP ENMO, Norway

LeSving wrote:

If the above is wrong, and anyone can certify new stuff for the aircraft through EASA, then it is a different scenario of course.

Of course anyone holding a DOA or an ADOA can certify changes, just as on any other certified aircraft. And when the 912iS is certified in the Lightwing AC-4, you can reinstall another 912iS, complying to the AMM. Just the 912iS itself does not need to be certified and the certification of the 912iS in the AC4 doesn’t make it a certified engine, so it has to be certified again in combination with another airframe.

mh
Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany

LeSving wrote:

Well, I don’t believe in “believe”, I believe in facts

Well, if the biggest chunk of experimental aircraft fatalities are loss of control inflight and powerplant faliure, it suggests that peter is right. After all, flight characteristics that lead to an easy loss of control are a design or build flaw and cannot be subsumized easily under “pilot error”. Certification grants a controllability by a mediocre pilot in any certified flight condition. Experimental aircraft don’t. They may very well fly great, as with the RV designs or the Sonex, but those are vastly built and tested by the builder-pilots and their feedback go back into the the design updates for later kits. But this isn’t the case with all experimentals and, further more, as I said the pilot/operator/owner must be either tech savvy or have blind faith, because there is no independent unit checking the claims and whether the aircraft complies to the regulations.

Anyway, this isn’t part of the LSA discussion, perhaps Peter should move these posts?

mh
Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany

mh wrote:

Of course anyone holding a DOA or an ADOA can certify changes, just as on any other certified aircraft.

Then CS-LSA is indeed vastly better than the US-LSA. Now, if they only could allow aerobatics… One has to wonder though, what makes a Rotax 912 ULS “certified” in one airframe but not in another? Is it all to do with maintenance? What if I get an old, say 1000h used engine from a microlight and put it in a LSA? Will that engine suddenly become certified?

It’s not totally different from the way experimentals are handled (outside US). The aircraft gets a certificate of airworthiness, but a larger modification, like changing to a different type of engine requires new tests (by the pilot/owner) and new certification. There are no DOAs involved though. DOA = Design Organisation something?

mh wrote:

After all, flight characteristics that lead to an easy loss of control are a design or build flaw and cannot be subsumized easily under “pilot error”.

I disagree. If you are not able to fly the aircraft, the error is with the pilot. Easy loss of control is only easy if you don’t fly it right. A notion that everything should fly and behave like a C-172 is not very meaningful for an aircraft that is exclusively built for private use, mostly as a hobby or recreation. It’s equally meaningless as saying that a motorbike should be as safe as a car, or a fast regatta sail boat should be as easy to handle as a family motor sailer or something. It makes no sense to me.

ENVA ENOP ENMO, Norway

LeSving wrote:

If you are not able to fly the aircraft, the error is with the pilot.

I agree. For example I’ve chosen the Europa Trigear over the Monowheel-variant because the latter is quite challenging in ground handling. I didn’t want that as the average-pilot I would count myself to. But there’s nothing wrong with the Monowheel in more capable hands.

EDLE

LeSving wrote:

If you are not able to fly the aircraft, the error is with the pilot.

Not necessarily. If you fly a proven design, yes, but if an aircraft leaves you in an uncontrollable situation, or one where you need too much workload to control the aircraft while tangling other problems, it might as well be a design flaw. Just claiming that loss of control is always just a pilot error is too lazy and might disguise deeper problems with the design. The Smaragd/Peregrine comes to mind…

LeSving wrote:

One has to wonder though, what makes a Rotax 912 ULS “certified” in one airframe but not in another?

The engine is still not certified, but it is certified to be used in the specific airframe.

Last Edited by mh at 26 Apr 11:12
mh
Inside the sky.
EDXE, EDXF, Germany
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