ANN RealTime Update, 09.08.11, 2111 ET:
ANN has concluded a brief interview with Criquet
Aviation/U-Fly-It's Dennis Carley about the recent actions
undertaken by the FAA with regards to the FI 156 Storch program.
Despite rumors, Carley says that Criquet's audit was started with a
request from the FAA to come down and participate in the audit, and
that they did not volunteer for this.
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The actual audit took place in mid-July and while the FAA
staffers involved noted some discrepancies with various Compliance
standards, at no time was there any hint that such drastic actions
(the 'grounding" of the company) were underway or contemplated.
They have finally received some data from the FAA as to the causes
for their decisions and according to Carley, the main heartburn
seems to rest on paperwork, documentation and procedural issues. As
a result; he is unsure (based on the report he's privy to now)
where a safety of flight issue exists that would warrant such
serious consequences. Further; the detailed report the company
received came AFTER the FAA published the memo grounding Criquet.
Some dialogue has taken place with the FAA and with the Colombian
parent company that undertakes most of the work of aircraft
manufacture before the partial kits are shipped to the USA for
completion -- Carley sees "nothing that can't be dealt with" fairly
quickly and says that the FAA has promised to address their
responses when rendered. Carley has more than a few questions about
the process... especially in regards to the Two-Month delay between
the audit and the grounding order... and why it took that long if
the discrepancies were serious enough to demand such action.
He also seems a mite underwhelmed with the fact that there
wasn't any real dialogue between them and the FAA between the time
of the audit and the grounding order that could have allowed him to
prepare the way for a faster response -- and not be caught by
surprise. Overall, Carley's remarks raise even more questions than
we had before the interview... and so far, the FAA has indicated
that they are unwilling to talk about the matter. Color us
concerned, and growing more so the more we look into this...
-- Jim Campbell, ANN Editor-In-Chief
ANN RealTime Update, 09.08.11, 1121 ET:
The FAA has refused further comment on this story and our attempts
to interview staffers from AIR-200 have been politely turned away.
Questions about the specifics of the grounding order and the
reasons for its imposition remain unanswered.
Original Report: ANN
reported the first known 'grounding' of an LSA
manufacturer, by the FAA, last week when a memo produced by the
FAA's AIR-200 was forwarded to us shortly after it was
The August 30th Memo sent to "All Manufacturing Inspection
Offices, All Manufacturing District/Satellite Offices, All
Certificate Management Offices/Units, All Flight Standards
Divisions, All Flight Standards District Offices, and all Aircraft
Registration Branch AFS-750 (with an additional notation
recommending the memo's dissemination to "appropriate designees"),
Terry Allen, the Acting Manager, Production and Airworthiness, for
AIR-200. Allen appeared to many to be 'making good' on the
FAA's promise/threat (issued last year after touring LSA facilities
throughout the nation) to step up the surveillance and involvement
in the LSA industry.
Using a "prototype LSA Audit Program", the FAA inspected Criquet
Aviation USA, Inc., the manufacturers of the Storch FI-156 LSA. The
result of this July 13 th audit, one of the first of its kind, was
the rescinding of Criquet Aviation's ability to offer products with
Special Flight Permits, S-LSA or E-LSA airworthiness certificates.
In other words... grounded.
The Memo states that, "This memorandum prohibits the issuance of
special flight permits, special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) and
experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) airworthiness
certificates to all Storch FI-156 airplanes manufactured by Criquet
Aviation USA, Inc.
"On July 13th 2011 , the Production and Airworthiness Division,
AIR-200, conducted a prototype of a national light-sport aircraft
audit program at U-Fly-It, LSA, LLC. The prototype audit results
indicated that U-Fly-It LSA and Criquet Aviation USA were unable to
demonstrate that the current manufacturing and re-assembly system
for aircraft model Storch FI-156 is in compliance with all FAA
accepted consensus standards and regulatory requirements. The FAA
has determined that a potential safety of flight issue may exist
with Storch FI-156 models manufactured by Criquet Aviation USA,
"Effectively immediately, no Special Flight Permits, S-LSA or
E-LSA airworthiness certificates will be issued to any Storch
FI-156 airplane manufactured by Criquet Aviation USA, Inc., until
further notice from AIR-200."
ANN immediately called the FAA (last week) in order to get
additional info about the matter... and in particular, what issues
were found to be serious enough to shut Criquet down. Late
Wednesday, ANN received the following response from the FAA's Les
"The FAA looked at several manufacturers, including Criquet,
because of the findings from the previous LSA Manufacturers
Assessment Project. Our assessments have shown some LSA
manufacturers are not adhering to the consensus standards and
federal regulations. As a result, the FAA is developing an
oversight program and has begun to prototype it. Criquet Aviation's
aircraft was part of the prototype effort. The aircraft was found
not to comply with the FAA-accepted consensus standards and
therefore was not in a condition for safe operation per the
requirements of FAA regulations. We can't provide details because
the particulars are proprietary.
There is no 'war' on the LSA business. The public and the
industry have been briefed for quite some time that an FAA
oversight program would be implemented as the result of the
findings from the assessment project. We believe the assessment
report is very clear on the issues and does not show any
A number of issues remain unresolved and unknown... i.e, what
did Criquet do (or not do) that got their ability to produce LSAs
suspended and what was involved in the process? We have asked for a
direct dialogue with AIR-200 and are awaiting more info as soon as
it becomes available. ANN is also in the process or awaiting a
response from Criquet to see what they have to say about the