AUSTRALIA'S Civil Aviation Authority has issued a special category certificate of airworthiness to allow the Eagle XT-S sports trainer to operate in Australia, following its failure fully to meet European Joint Aviation Regulations for Very Light Aircraft (JAR-VLA).

The aircraft is manufactured in Perth, Western Australia, by Eagle Aircraft International, a partnership of Composite Technology Research Malaysia and the country's national oil company Petronas. The dispute posed a threat to trade relations between Australia and Malaysia.

In a CAA review (Flight International, 18-24 January) the Eagle's stall speed was found to exceed the JAR-VLA 45kt maximum by 2kt (3.7km/h) at maximum gross weight, with a forward centre of gravity. Meeting the requirement would have meant reducing the Eagle's maximum take-off weight to a point which would have effectively limited it to single-seat operation.

The Eagle's certificate of type approval, valid until May 1997, will now allow its launch customer, the Western Australia Department of Conservation & Land Management (CALM), to operate the type.

CALM had ordered six Eagles to replace its Piper PA-18 Super Cub fleet. It has now agreed to lease the aircraft, rather than buy them, because of concerns over resale value.

The CAA says: "The designers have chosen to show compliance with the JAR-VLA. A change in the stalling speed applicability would be a matter for the member states of the Joint Aviation Authorities. Australia is not a member of this European-based authority."

Source: Flight International