BRM Aero representative Edge Aerospace has accused the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) of inequity in their handling of two separate overweight issues.
CASA issued a "show cause" notice to a specific BRM Bristell owner in November 2019 after three aircraft were found to be over their maximum basic empty weights.
No such notices were sent to owners of FlySynthesis Texan aircraft, several of which have been found to be up to 114 kg over their stated empty weights. Instead CASA sent owners a letter endorsing a Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) recommendation that Texan aircraft be re-weighed to determine the actual empty weight.
The particular aircraft on which the show cause has been issued was 4.1 kg overweight, which was rectified by replacing a battery and the seat cushions, all approved by the manufacturer.
Edge Aerospace then recalculated the new empty weight, but CASA rejected it because it used the original empty weight data.
The approach led to Edge Aerospace accusing CASA of orchestrating a vendetta against the type in light of the ongoing issue of the stall/spin characteristics.
Edge Aerospace's Lorraine MacGillivray told Australian Flying she was bewildered over CASA's different handling of the Bristell and the Texan on what appears to be a similar issue.
"The difference in treatment between the Bristell and the Texan weight issue is perplexing: 4.1 kg over gets you a show cause and 114 kg over does not?"
"BRM Aero rectified the weight issue immediately with the Bristell and yet CASA saw fit to reject the certified empty weight used for the revalidation, the very weight they used to issue the show cause in the first instance!
"The inequity of the treatment between the two aircraft is very curious. If any Texan is around 100 kg overweight it does not meet its certification basis. But seemingly that is okay, CASA?"
A CASA spokesperson told Australian Flying that the regulator had in fact taken similar approaches to both the Bristell and the Texan, and that some of the Texans involved had had modifications done after delivery.
"The approach is consistent in each case. CASA has initially sought to fully understand the facts before acting (if necessary), this includes engagement with the manufacturer and relevant parties.
"CASA’s concern is that it has evidence of BRM Aero Ltd asserting empty aircraft weights which were not reflective of the actual aircraft weights when landed in Australia. The matter presently remains under consideration following CASA receiving further correspondence on behalf of the owner.
"Texan owners have been advised by RAAus to consider reweighing their aircraft to ensure they have accurate weight calculations for their aircraft. CASA is satisfied that the issue has been properly brought to the attention of owners.
"CASA continues to gather information to fully understand the matter. CASA will take further action to address safety related concerns - if so required."
CASA's spokesperson elaborated by saying the problem with the Bristell was far more complex than that of the Texan.
"The Bristell issue goes well beyond just the weight issue – the safety notice issue related to flight training and issues around the potential for spinning," he said.
"It also includes some VH-registered (for some Bristell) vs only RAAus reg (for Texan) So it is inappropriate to compare the Bristell matters to Texan just on the weight issue … it's more complicated."
Edge Aerospace has responded to CASA in a letter saying that in request a complete reweigh of the aircraft, the regulator had inappropriately applied the requirements of CASR 100.7 to the Bristell, and also said that CASA's actions had been "unreasonable."
"BRM Aero rectified the Bristell issue promptly. To [our] understanding the manufacturer of the Texan 550 has done nothing to resolve the issue with their aircraft despite being repeatedly requested to do so by [an] aircraft owner.
"It would appear to any reasonable person that CASA's approach in pursuing the empty weight issue of the Bristell that involved no flight safety issue, whilst doing little or nothing in regard to the Texan 550, is totally unreasonable."