S-LSA downsides

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PTAirco

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I have recently acquired two damaged Cub clones (manufacturer shall remain makes at this stage) that I intend to repair to good as new. One had minimal damage and one had a landing gear torn off in a ground accident. Typical repairs that have been done for literally a hundred years now and present no great difficulty to me.

What I did not count on is the reluctance of the manufacturer to even talk to me. S-LSAs require a letter of authorization for the most trivial work; basically anything outside regular maintenance. They have the last word on who can do what and how it should be done. They can even insist on training for the person doing the work and can demand a complete resume for the mechanic working on it. No such thing as 337 and FSDOs here.

Basically these guys took a month to even get back to me with an answer about parts prices. 5 weeks later I get a quote and "what approved data" will you be using? Told them I'd be happy to discuss it with the owner. The only reply I get from the owner consists of "no structural repairs approved! Liability! Proud of the strength of our aircraft!" Etc etc.
I get where the wind is blowing from...

They have no interest in seeing their aircraft repaired. If you break one, they will happily sell you a new one.
The quoted waiting times for parts was astronomical. 8-10 weeks for simple parts. They buy a lot of stuff from Univair (their part numbers are all over their airplanes) and Univair can get me the same parts in a week.

Luckily, I have an option: I can convert SLSA to ELSA relatively simply. It's in the regs. Having give through this, I would advise any SLSA owner to do the same. Being held hostage by the manufacturer to this degree is ridiculous. ELSA free you from all that. Only downside is your can't rent the airplane out or use it commercially in any way. I'll live with that.

Signed,

Irate.
 

Victor Bravo

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The answer to "what approved data" should obviously be AC 43.13, and "or you may notify notify the FAA that their approved methods of repair are not acceptable".

Also, I believe the FSDO and/or the FAA in OKC is in fact still the final word on airworthiness for aircraft operated under 14CFR, is it not? So if you were to call the FAA, as a repairman, and ask them whether 43.13 is not acceptable for these repairs... would they not tell you to go ahead using 43.13???

I can see that if the airplane were made of Boron fiber printed into a liquid Titanium matrix, and had a Skunk Works logo on it... the FAA would defer back to the OEM as experts on that material. But a steel tube and fabric Cub Clone?
 

Hot Wings

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Also, I believe the FSDO and/or the FAA in OKC is in fact still the final word on airworthiness for aircraft operated under 14CFR, is it not?
Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what is in the manufacturers certification documentation. Much like our operating limitations for EABs the manufacturer of an LSA is free to write into their self certification standards whatever they choose with regard repair and maintenance.

Kind of a low rent way of ensuring sales - as long as there is strong demand - like a glider manufacturer that requires a new manual every year to maintain certification........
 

BBerson

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AC 43.13 is not "approved data". It is "acceptable data" in FAA speak. Big difference.
Approved data is manufacturer data, DAR data, Airworthiness Directives, etc., that have been "approved" by some process.
 

Victor Bravo

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OK, fair enough. I will have to accept that there may be regulatory reasons for a manufacturer to impose draconian rule over certain things.

But I also have to believe that you can make a successful case to the FSDO that what you are doing (using 43.13 or other accepted processes) is providing an acceptable level of flight safety.

Also, I have to believe that a DER and/or DAR can approve something that the manufacturer hasn't or doesn't. I have done that once or twice myself with a DER. Skylight modification on a Taylorcraft, repairing a C-172 and leaving non-original structural components in place to allow continuation of a proposed (but not yet approved) STC modification.
 

Wanttaja

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Maybe. But SLSA rules are different.
I'm not sure if that applies to maintenance. Part 43 seems to apply, the same as any other production aircraft. 14CFR43.1:

"(d) This part applies to any aircraft issued a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category except:

(1) The repair or alteration form specified in §§43.5(b) and 43.9(d) is not required to be completed for products not produced under an FAA approval;

(2) Major repairs and major alterations for products not produced under an FAA approval are not required to be recorded in accordance with appendix B of this part; and

(3) The listing of major alterations and major repairs specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of appendix A of this part is not applicable to products not produced under an FAA approval.
"

All of this is basically saying aspects are "not required" or "not applicable."

Certainly the privileges of Light Sport - Maintenance Repairman Certificates is covered elsewhere, but the wording above seems to indicate that an A&P should be able to do whatever is necessary.

Ron Wanttaja
 

BBerson

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Not applicable, because the FAA delegated repair and alteration "approval" to the manufacturer.
Might be something in the airplane papers?
FAR 21.190 - Issue of a Special Airworthiness Certificate for Light-Sport Category
(a) Purpose. The FAA issues a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category to operate a light-sport aircraft, other than a gyroplane.

(b) Eligibility. To be eligible for a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category:

(1) An applicant must provide the FAA with—

(i) The aircraft's operating instructions;

(ii) The aircraft's maintenance and inspection procedures;
 
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Mad MAC

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This is the critical section of part 91, specifically (b)(7) for major repairs and (b)(6) for major mods, but just who is a "person acceptable to the FAA" is it a DER?
§91.327 Aircraft having a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category: Operating limitations.

(b) No person may operate an aircraft that has a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category unless—

.....

(5) Each alteration accomplished after the aircraft's date of manufacture meets the applicable and current consensus standard and has been authorized by either the manufacturer or a person acceptable to the FAA;

(6) Each major alteration to an aircraft product produced under a consensus standard is authorized, performed and inspected in accordance with maintenance and inspection procedures developed by the manufacturer or a person acceptable to the FAA; and

(7) The owner or operator complies with the requirements for the recording of major repairs and major alterations performed on type-certificated products in accordance with §43.9(d) of this chapter, and with the retention requirements in §91.417.
 

Dana

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Wow. I knew modifications were problematic, but I had no idea it was that restrictive on ordinary repairs.
FAA Advisory Circular 65-32:

Major repairs and major alterationsmay only be accomplished on S-LSA by a repairman (light-sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating, a certificated mechanic with A&P ratings, or a certificated repair station.

The manufacturer must provide the technical data for such a repair or alteration and identify the training required, if any, to perform that repair or alteration. . .Before making any major repair as per the consensus standard, a repairman (light-sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating, a mechanic with an airframe and powerplant rating, or appropriately certificated repair station, must receive training to perform the repair.

This training should be from either the manufacturer or from an industry accepted training provider.

The ASTM consensus standard specifies that the manufacturer of the aircraft shall determine what is a major repair...
That might make sense for a SLSA using unconventional fabrication techniques that an average A&P might not be familiar with (and I admit the average A&P knows little about, say, 2-stroke engines or other ultralight derived technology), but in this case where the structure is thoroughly conventional, it's absurd. An ethical manufacturer would simply advise the A&P that AC43.13 is acceptable data for the repair.

In this case, going ELSA sounds like a no brainer.

Please share the manufacturer's name so others will know who to avoid.
 

TFF

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Depending on where you stand. For fun only planes, who cares what certifications. Value will take a hit if it’s not S-LSA. Commercial and trying to take off taxes go hand in hand. I would talk to a DAR on S to E. There might be some tangles.
 

PTAirco

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All good points you fellows brought up but reading through everything, I do believe that the manufacturer does indeed have the final word. We used to have a light sport Tecnam in a flying club here and it was down for 8 months while they waited for a letter of authorization to replace four rivets. Nobody would touch the thing. It's nuts.

Whoever drafted the regulations very cleverly snuck this in. At this stage it is becoming a no-brainer to simply fix these aircraft and convert them to ELSA. My partner in this (my A&P/IA) still feels it's worth flying out there and talking to them face-to-face. But I know exactly what would happen. They simply do not want these aircraft repaired or at least have been told so by their lawyers.

So far they are ignoring all my calls and emails.

Why did they ever bother getting into aviation..?
 

PTAirco

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For the record:. It's American Legend.
I picked up two AL3s. Both O-200s. Quite nice airplanes, roomy and comfortable. One even has seat belt airbags, front and rear! No complaints about the airplanes themselves, they are very nice Cub clones with wider fuselages. Both have nice basic panels with Garmin GPS and look well made. Mostly from other people's parts, like Univair, but still. No big deal to repair these to as good as new, that's one reason why I got into the tube and fabric business in the first place: everything is fixable. And they are not even that badly damaged; one of them I could have ferried back with a new strut.
 

PTAirco

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Regarding SLSA versus ELSA and value;
For a private buyer, I would take Elsa any day knowing what I know now. The one downside is you cannot use it for a flight school and such. Other than that slsa is nothing but a headache. The slightest damage and you could be down for most of a year. ELSA frees you from most of these hassles. Do a 2-day course and you can be the repairman for that aircraft forever.
 

Mad MAC

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All good points you fellows brought up but reading through everything, I do believe that the manufacturer does indeed have the final word.
I would ask the Local FAA, stating that the factory isn't offering repair data, also ask if there is guidance as to who is "a person acceptable to the FAA" regarding 91.327 because that starts to sound like a DER. One might sign relatively cheaply a mod to allow you to replace American Legend parts with Univair etc assuming an approval path can be found.


Does anyone know is there an equivalent to a TCDS for an LSA.
 

BBerson

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Is that a hopeful guess, or have you read something that would support that?
I didn't read anything specific about Light Sport. But I think there was that option for the proposed owner maintenance conversion of a type certicated aircraft. Something to research before doing it.
It would probably need new parts to make it original. So not very easy, but perhaps possible.
 

Victor Bravo

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According to EAA, the FAA and EAA are dealing with this exact issue. They're about to re-open the pathway to calling these airplanes, and "fat ultralights" and a bunch of other stuff ELSA's. Sometime before summer, apparently, but...?
 
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