• BRM Aero's Bristell Classic. CASA has cast doubt on it certification. (BRM Aero)
    BRM Aero's Bristell Classic. CASA has cast doubt on it certification. (BRM Aero)

Aircraft manufacturer BRM Aero has enlisted a German certification firm as the latest weapon in its battle with CASA over operational limitations placed on the Bristell LSA.

The company–Aircraft Design Certification GmbH (ADC)–was asked by BRM Aero to assess the existing spin test reports for four variants of the Bristell NG5, after which it furnished BRM with a letter stating that they considered the aircraft complied with the relevant part of ASTM 2245 covering spinning.

BRM Aero forwarded that letter to CASA on 9 March this year, accompanied by a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration saying the FAA also considered the Bristell to be compliant, and a submission demanding the operating limitations be removed.

CASA issued a ban on stall training in Bristells in July last year, stating that they had no received sufficient assurance from BRM Aero that the aircraft complied with the standard for light sport aircraft (LSA), a contention that the manufacturer has disputed consistently.

CASA has pointed to some fatal accidents around the world, including in Australia, as indication that the aircraft is not appropriate for stall training.

Boris Kolmel, Managing Director of ADC, wrote to BRM designer Milan Bristella in February saying his company found the stall test data showed the Bristell complied with the standard.

"We have reviewed the provided data (report and ref. videos) and conclude: For the LSA-class of aircraft the flight test method, data and reporting according REPORT ON THE SPIN TESTING OF BRISTELL LSA AIRCRAFT COMPLETED, dated 22nd Feb. 2020 is sufficient to be used for compliance demonstration to par. 4.5.9 "no intentional spins"of ASTM F2245 for the tested configuration."

BRM's techncial representative in Australia, Bob McGillivary from Edge Aerospace, made the submission to CASA in early March demanding the regulator remove the operational limitations, citing the ADC and FAA determinations as proof the BRM does comply.

"This submission is made on behalf of BRM Aero to address issues raised by CASA and used to justify the imposition of the Safety Notice and the Operating Limitations imposed on Bristell Light Sport Aircraft operating in Australia," McGillivray states.

"In addition to data previously supplied to CASA by BRM Aero, additional evidence is now provided in this submission. BRM Aero maintains that the previously supplied information, together with the additional information and evidence provided herein fully supports the case that all Bristell Light Sport Aircraft meet the requirements of ASTM F2245, para 4.5.9."

McGillivray also notes that in the July 2020 Safety Notice issued to aircraft owners, CASA itself stated that there "is no conclusive basis to presently find that BLSA do not comply with the spin recovery requirements ..."

"On the basis of the above CASA statement it is clear that CASA has no justifiable basis for imposing the safety notice and operating limitations," McGillivray says. "The Bristell LSA aircraft are self certified under the LSA system. BRM Aero has carried out sufficient spin testing and aerodynamic analyses to satisfy themselves that the NG 5 Bristell aircraft do comply with the requirements of ASTM 2245 ...

"If CASA do not agree, our opinion is that the onus is on CASA to prove that the aircraft does not comply, not the other way around."

The submission was sent with a covering letter from aviation law experts Maitland Lawyers on behalf of BRM Aero demanding the Safety Notice be rescinded.

"You will see from the enclosure that there is incontrovertible evidence that the Bristell NG5 LSA and its variants meet the requirements of ASTM F2245 para 4.5.9," Maitland Lawyers states.

"We are instructed that our client now demands that CASA now removes the Safety Notice and operating limitations imposed by CASA on 28 July 2020 without further delay."

A CASA spokesperson told Australian Flying today that the matter was under consideration.

"CASA is carefully reviewing the latest submission from BRM," the spokesperson said. "Our decisions will always be based on available evidence and data in the best interests of aviation safety."

The matter is also still before the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

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