• A Bristell LSA pictured at Ausfly in 2015. The type has been in service with several flying schools. (Steve Hitchen)
    A Bristell LSA pictured at Ausfly in 2015. The type has been in service with several flying schools. (Steve Hitchen)

Victorian aerospace company Edge Aerospace has written a letter to Minister Michael McCormack urging him to look into CASA's handling of the Bristell stall/spin issue.

Dated 10 July, the letter calls on the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport to intervene and direct CASA to take a more reasonable approach in the matter.

CASA issued an intent to ban stalls in Bristells in March this year after accidents in Clyde and Stawell. The ban was never implemented, but the Safety Notice remains in place, prompting the manufacturer BRM Aero to engage Edge Aerospace to assist with the technical details that have led to the notice.

Edge Aerospace states in the letter that the manufacturer has supplied all information regarding spin testing that CASA has requested and that CASA should now accept the statement of compliance from BRM Aero as demanded under the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) category.

"CASA should be removing the Safety Notice and withdraw the threat to impose an operating limitation," the letter signed by Edge Aerospace Director Lorraine MacGillivray states. "CASA should also engage in communication with BRM Aero and provide guidance and most importantly provide evidence of supposed non-compliance."

The letter was supported with more than 100 pages of documents that support the contention that the Bristell had been properly spin-tested, that the aircraft complies with the ASTM standards that cover LSAs and that the manufacturer had supplied all information required by CASA.

"Spin and stall testing was conducted by a highly accomplished Russian military test pilot and formal reports and data produced related to this testing and has been supplied to CASA," the letter points out.

"CASA have not accepted the validity of this data. This is disturbing as CASA will not detail an issue or provide evidence of their opinion/view that the aircraft does not comply."

Among the concerns outlined in the letter are:

  • CASA has used the results of stall/spin tests in Australia that may have been illegal given the aircraft is not certified for intentional spinning
  • CASA has failed to outline why they believe the aircraft may not comply with the standards
  • CASA has ignored all evidence provided that the aircraft does comply with the standards
  • Despite CASA contacting other National Aviation Authorities over the matter, no other country has issued a Safety Notice on the Bristell.

BRM Aero has claimed that the Safety Notice has cost them upward of $2 million in sales in Australia and severely impacted importer Anderson Aviation Australia.

Edge Aerospace also takes issue with the recent Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation report into the crash of a Soar Aviation Bristell near Stawell. The report refers to the Safety Notice, but Edge believes it should not have been in the report because it had no bearing on the cause of the accident.

"CASA should be withdrawing the Safety Notice forthwith," the letter urges Minister McCormack, "on the basis that they have failed in their duty to assist the manufacturer, failed to provide any evidence of non-compliance and in fact have seemingly gone out of their way to jeopardise BRM Aero.

"We request that you intervene pursuant to the powers under Section 12 of the Civil Aviation Act to direct the Board of CASA to act reasonably in relation to the Bristell matter, to respond to our correspondence and to recognise the self-certification by the manufacturer that the Bristell complies with the ASTM."

CASA has told Australian Flying that an outcome is "not far away."

A spokesperson for the office of the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has said they had received the letter and that the "issued raised are currently being considered."

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