Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sun 'n Fun Day Two, Take Two

Later in the day:
There's never a shortage of cool stories or airplanes to talk about, only shortage of time and space to cram it all into.
That said, here's more on topics previous and new.

Dan Johnson gave a briefing yesterday on three new developments to do with LAMA , the Light Aircraft Manufacturing Association that he heads up and puts in so many tireless hours to support.

1. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest aviation school, has finalized agreements with LAMA to provide industry-centric production audits for LSA manufacturers.  Audits are a potential sticking point with the FAA because the ASTM self-regulatory standard that makes Light Sport Aircraft such a unique and innovative entity in aviation turns on an important central principle: compliance with ASTM  standards.
Every process, material and activity involved
with building an LSA, right down to how long ago a torque wrench was calibrated (it's all specified in the ASTM certificate of compliance that's initially awarded to an airframe maker) needs to be codified, then adhered to by the manufacturer, and that adherence, or compliance, then verified by the audit process.
ERAU audit personnel will receive the same training as FAA personnel and the program offered to manufacturers by the university will cost $15,000 (equivalent ISO audits for GA manufacturers are twice that) and include a full document review (quite an involved, hours-intensive process) and on-site inspection of all procedures.
“FAA is embracing the industry doing this,” says Dan.  “If we do a good enough job, they’ve said they’ll be happy to back away and let us do most of the audits down the road.”
“For smaller companies that will find a $15K ticket burdensome, we’re working on creative ways to get the job done for them, but we’ll start with a few of the biggest companies because this is important: if we don’t show we’re in compliance with the ASTM standard that allows us to exist as an industry, FAA will step in.”

2. Five Years for The LSA Mall!  Congratulations to Dan and all involved for this boffo concept which for four years was located right by the main entrance gate.  It’s been moved down closer to Paradise City, the light aircraft mini-airfield at the southeast end of the Sun ‘n Fun show grounds.
I’ll have some pix of it tomorrow, haven’t gotten that far in my wanderings yet.  Sun ‘n Fun is a couple miles from one end to another all told, and make a couple round trips from the new (and vastly improved) but more remote Media Center and it feels more like 10 miles.  And there aren’t enough motor carts to go around for all the media people.  So I stick my thumb out a lot, with mixed results and tears of gratitude shed on the sleeves of those compassionate souls who stop to pick me up.

Anyway, in its fifth year, the Mall provides a focused showplace for LSA manufacturers to exhibit their wares.  “It’s been filled to capacity in all the years of this tough economy, and I’m pleased with how it’s now closer to Paradise City.   It will give us more room to expand and flexibility is improved: we’re able to fly during the air show now - always taboo before - and next year there will be a taxiway from the Mall right to Paradise City, which will allow on-the-spot demo flights."

3. Paradise City itself has its own share of the news: “It’s much improved,” says Dan.  “That runway that we know so well will be used by the Central Florida Aerospace Academy year round for pilot training.  All these years before it was only open one week a year, for the show.  They’ve also removed some trees and one of the two ditches that ran along the side, and will fill in the other one soon.  Also the big berm at the west end approach is gone.”
“The airport, by the way, not Sun ‘n Fun, is paying for it.   The whole layout will change over time.”

No comments: