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EAA Responds to Misleading LSA Story

Dear Mr. Cox:

We noted your Jan. 26 story, “Type of aircraft in Dunbar High crash isn't as tightly regulated,” in reference to last weekend’s tragic accident involving a Dunbar High school student. Unfortunately, the story missed many key elements, and gave a misleading and incomplete glimpse of light-sport aircraft – well below the standards established by the Star-Telegram through the years. Frankly, we expected better reporting from your newspaper.

Some examples:

  1. Light-sport aircraft rules are based “on consensus standards agreed upon by aircraft manufacturers and private pilot groups.” This is incomplete and seems to indicate that the federal government had no role. The FAA approved all of these standards before final acceptance in 2004.  The standards continue to be reviewed every two years by FAA.
  2. "Manufacturers of such aircraft are allowed to ‘self-certify’ that they meet FAA airworthiness standards.” These standards were created under the auspices of ASTM International, which maintains standards on everything from heart pacemakers to crayons, and included FAA input throughout the process. These standards have also been adopted by many other developed nations, including Australia, New Zealand, Israel and China, and mirror European standards in place for many years. In addition, many of these same light-sport aircraft have served as primary training airplanes in European nations for more than 20 years.
  3. Mr. Eakins said he sees “more and more (accidents) involving LSAs.” Of course, just five years ago, there was ZERO new light-sport aircraft delivered in the U.S. There are now several thousand LSAs. Such a broad statement by Mr. Eakins is akin to saying that more auto accidents were reported in the 20th century than before that time.
  4. The story seems to focus on the aircraft as the potential cause of the accident. At this point, no one knows the exact cause. It is a disservice to all involved to affix suspicion primarily on the aircraft prior to the completion of any investigation.
  5. Mr. Kettles and Mr. Sanger are certainly entitled to their opinions, but to our knowledge, they are not recognized as light-sport aircraft authorities or experts. We do not know on what technical basis their opinions might have been formed.

FAA, EAA and the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association would have been happy to provide accurate facts and figures to assist in your reporting. However, it appears that none of those of those groups were contacted for the story.

These and other examples unfortunately led to an incomplete and flawed representation of light-sport aircraft and those who fly them. EAA, with 160,000 members in more than 100 countries, is well known and respected for its work with media that seek an accurate picture of general and recreational aviation. We look forward to any opportunity to work with the Star-Telegram in the future.

Best regards,

Earl Lawrence
Vice President, Industry and Regulatory Affairs
Experimental Aircraft Association
Oshkosh, Wis.

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