European Light Aviation (ELA) is taking shape under a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) working group that is nearly ready to propose standards for initial airworthiness.

At its latest meeting held in Cologne earlier this month, the MDM.032 working group reviewed "95%" of the new route to certification, says chairman Allain Leroy. "That was a really important step, because this includes the new categories and the new standards," he says.

The long-awaited comment response document to the Advanced Notice of Proposed Amendment (ANPA) is imminent, and a new NPA on initial airworthiness is set for November. Simplified standards under ELA II are proposed for aircraft with initial take-off weight up to 2,000kg (4,400lb), excluding light rotorcraft. Proposals simplify requirements under ELA I for aircraft below 1,000kg, dropping the need for traditional Design Organisation Approval.

If approved by EASA, the third new category would use ASTM standards to approve design of two-seat aircraft up to 750kg with stall speeds of 85km/h (46kt) in landing configuration.

The new design codes are a major change, says MDM.032 member Jan Fridrich, vice-president for foreign affairs, industry and internal audit for the Light Aircraft Association of the Czech Republic. The shift was inspired by the LSA category in the USA, but Fridrich says limitations will be different. "We are closer to Australian ones, which in reality means it will be possible to use in-flight adjustable props or retractable landing gears," he says.

Fridrich is concerned that the 40 changes proposed for Part M in a 25 June NPA are not simple enough, and believes there will be disagreements ahead for pilot licensing too. Leroy says discussion on medical requirements to determine who can get a Light Aircraft Pilot Licence and the entry-level LAPL, has just begun.

Requirements for the intermediate and entry-level licences will be easier to meet than for a private pilots licence, he says, "but it's still too early to discuss".

MDM.032 meets again early next month and Leroy says he cannot say when work will conclude or when EASA will finalise everything.

"You could say two or three years for the full package is probably conservative," he says.

Source: Flight International