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Concern summary

Safety concern relating to the installation of unapproved parts and the acceptance of aircraft under the Light Sport Aircraft certification process.

Reporter's deidentified concern

The reporter raised a safety concern regarding the unapproved modification of flight control systems installed in Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) B&F FK9 Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).

The reporter advised that the new build aircraft purchased through a local agent for the foreign manufacturer were delivered with electrical elevator trim systems that were not part of the original compliance process. The manufacturer has no technical details of the system, nor have they approved the modification of the elevator trim for the FK9. The reporter is further concerned that the use of unapproved parts is not limited to the FK9.

The reporter has also expressed concern for the ongoing management of LSA certification standards. With the responsibility for continued airworthiness of these aircraft lying with foreign manufacturers once initial certification has been granted, the reporter does not feel that there is enough governance from the Australian regulator and self-administered body overseeing the operation of these aircraft.

Approved Self-Administering Aviation Organisation's comments:

RAAus determined that the trim was installed by the importer who assembled the aircraft.  ‘Because the aircraft was provided with a signed statement of compliance referencing the airframe serial number, RAAus would not consider the electric trim an unauthorised modification.’

Regulator's response

RAAus have confirmed with CASA that they believe there is no safety concern regarding the failure of the trim system in the FK9 because the aircraft remains controllable in all operations.

‘The LSA scheme is designed to allow a manufacturer to effectively self-certify each individual aircraft, this is done by providing a signed statement of compliance.  Neither CASA nor RAAus are required to verify that the aircraft complies with the standards contained in the signed statement of compliance. If a signed statement of compliance is provided, then the requirements of the RAAus technical manual have been met.’ ‘CASA does not hold any information specific to the aircraft such as POH, MM or IPC’ but does maintain a copy of the documentation submitted by the Authorised person who issued the Special CoA for the aircraft.  This documentation contains a copy of the Statement of Compliance signed by the manufacturer.

‘The aircraft is a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) and operated under RAAus only.  The continued airworthiness requirements are the responsibility of the owner and the manufacturer.’  Additionally, ‘RAAus have been advised they can contact CASA should they have any further issues or concerns or seek assistance in resolving the reported issues.’

ATSB Comment: The ongoing management of certification and airworthiness is a regulatory matter for CASA and RAAus. The ATSB notes the reporter’s concerns and will continue to monitor the LSA process for potential safety issues.