Category: Blog

A SCRUMptious Alternative

Image of a big red "x" through a large Gantt chart

You may have had this experience — in a student project, a house remodel, or at work. You are managing or a part of a big project that contains a bunch of mini-projects or every day actions that must be done in a way which completes the overall objectives. You make (or are given) a large Gantt chart with a big pretty wall-sized graphic of a waterfall plan. The song goes a little bit like this, “I depend on you / you depend on me / if anyone misses the critical path / we’re all late from A to B.” And typically, by choice or chance, someone is late with something or the complexities of an organization or a  large project cause difficulty.

The Agile movement seeks alternatives to the project management disappointments we have all been exposed to. Scrum is an Agile, alternative framework useful for multi-step, multi-disciplinary projects with “aggressive deadlines, complex requirements and a degree of uniqueness” (from this article at MountainGoatSoftware). Scrum consists of three distinct parts: the team, events, and artifacts — the who, how, and what is generated of every project, respectfully.

Streamline Designs decided to apply the Scrum methodology in a certification project nearly 10 years ago. It was a huge, multistep project that was set to last about 18 months. We sought to deal with inherent earthly unpredictability through Scrum’s iterative work cadences and the use of actual productivity data to drive our predictions and decisions. Since then, we have used the methods extensively since then and have been using them internally at SD for several years now. Our family (the Morrisons) even started using Scrum to manage our household activities.

As a company, we have found the use of Scrum to be beneficial to our clients who understand that there are many variables in a project, including schedule, personnel, and money, among others. Scrum has allowed us to make strong recommendations based on real information, which has allowed our clients to make data driven, informed decisions. Adam, as a certified Scrum Master, is ready to help your organization unlock the frustration you’ve had for years, and realize the empowerment leaders already have but haven’t yet realized within their businesses.

Internally, Scrum is moving us toward frustration-free work planning within the Streamline Designs organization. We know how much we can get done based on our own actual history as a team at the task level, and we are learning the disciplines of planning for reality — not for wishes, hopes, and pixie dust. We have always striven to be a firm who can actually over-deliver every time and Scrum helps us to be able to even plan for that on a day to day basis.

A word of warning: Scrum does not allow the kind of “sweep it under the rug of unpredictability” excuse-making that oft occurs with waterfall planning or non-planning. That is one of the beauties of Scrum we honestly love — it forces transparency, of the level of complexity of a task, of the relative productivities of various teams and team members, and forces clarity of calling a task “done.”

For more information on using the Scrum methodology to improve the effectiveness of your organization, feel free to contact us here or check out the links below:

Streamline Designs Expands With New Venture—The DroneRafts WaterStrider™

Streamline Designs has experienced wonderful growth—especially over the past few years—largely because of the great support of the light aircraft industry and our long-standing customers. Many companies in the light aviation world have enjoyed the benefits of our love of provide enabling solutions for a wide range of aircraft manufacturers.

For some time now, Marcie and I have been looking to diversify Streamline Designs by leveraging our intimate knowledge of standards-making, product certification, and progressive systems thinking. We also want to “scratch the itch” of cross-pollinating ideas, tools, and technologies wherever possible, and even across different industries where it makes sense. In particular, we have always had a vision to leverage our design and engineering skills to develop hardware solutions.

As a small business, we have also looked for ways to grow Streamline Designs in our local community and in the context of our growing family. We’ve added staff, which has been a wonderful blessing. This has enabled us to reduce overhead and deploy some of our attention to the pursuit of enabling hardware-based solutions within aviation while continuing to fully serve you.

We are pleased to announce some of the fruit of that growth and diversification, as we just finished exhibiting at AUVSI XPONENTIAL in New Orleans with our very first hardware startup, DroneRafts LLC.

WaterStrider at AUVSI 2016
DroneRafts and the WaterStrider at AUVSI 2016

Our intent for this new venture is that it will grow into a lively partner for the hardware side of Streamline Designs, and as a strategic expansion of our newly modified scope: “Enabling Solutions for Things That Fly.”


Already, our thinking regarding standards and regulations for unmanned aircraft have our gears turning for manned aircraft and avionics certification opportunities. We want to assure you that Streamline Designs is alive, well, and growing and will continue to add value to our exiting and growing client base through our engineering consulting and industry involvement. We strongly believe that this new venture will only serve to make us stronger and more capable of serving your needs in creative ways.


We truly love things that fly and hope that you will share in our excitement. You can find out more about our new venture, DroneRafts LLC and on our live Kickstarter project for our new product WaterStrider™.

We’re trying to get the word out about this new and exciting product. Please share this and help us spread the word!

I also want to take a moment to express a heartfelt “Thank You” for believing in, supporting, and working with us as we have pursued our vision to provide truly enabling solutions for light aviation.



Why We Think Indiana is a Great Place to Start and Run a Small Business

After meeting someone new and the initial “what do you do?” question, there typically comes some kind of location question, “Where are you from?” or “Where is your business located?” Recently, we have started to ask the question, “How did you pick (your city)?” Or “Why (location)?” Our business-radar is always up, considering why people and families land where they do in such a mobile and global marketplace.

There are many conflicting opinions out there about the best states and cities to start a small business. Some praise Indiana’s low cost of living and favorable tax environment. Others bemoan the lower percentage of skilled labor. But as a small business who started in Indiana and has grown year on year, we think we live in a great place to do business. Let us tell you why. . .

One reason we love operating in Indiana is because we see so many existing opportunities and opportunities for long term growth. In the past 15 years, we have seen the technology and science industries grow exponentially and locally. Aviation, a field close to our hearts, has had a presence here for many years but has really started to expand in the past 5 years. It’s an exciting time right now in technology, the sciences, and aviation and Indiana is positioned to take advantage of the growth in these industries: multiple universities with excellent engineering, science, and aviation programs, combined with a number of large employers are a great place to start. We see a generation of students (future employees) who want more from a job than a 9-5 commitment and a 401k. We see adults who want to be passionate about what they are doing and have some flexibility while they work. Small businesses are a great environment to foster the creativity, passion, and excitement coming out of this generation of graduates.

Let’s face it: Indiana is a pretty affordable place to do business. The cost of living is roughly 6% below the national average. That includes housing, utilities, transportation and even health. While it may not be the first thing on a fresh college graduate’s mind, an apples to apples comparison of a comparable starting salary shows that a modest starting salary would stretch much farther in this startup-friendly city. Starting and operating a business is less expensive here too, with lower capital business costs (3.8% below average for those who like statistics.) And the tax laws in Indiana are favorable for starting a new business, a huge consideration for any entrepreneur.

In addition to the monetary cost, IN is a convenient place to do business. You say, “Fly over state.” We say, “Close to everything!” Centrally located in the country with one of the nation’s best international airports, it’s easy to be anywhere within a few hours. Streamline Designs is located about 30 minutes from IND, which is important for us when our clients are located all over the country and the world. It is becoming more and more common for businesses to have customers, employees, suppliers, and colleagues all over the country and the world. Being able to get to those people easily is a big plus.

We work hard at Streamline Designs and it is nice to know that when it comes time to play there are plenty of options. Indianapolis is best known for its sports teams and of course the Indy 500; however, if sports aren’t your thing, the food and art scene is alive and growing. Affordable rural property, river cities with old-timey charm, and hip neighborhoods all coexist beautifully in IN, where it’s a great place to raise a family and a business.

Do you love the city you are working in? Tweet us here @sportplane.

‘Ballot Fatigue’ and the LSA Industry

Ballot Activity Infographic


Over the last several years there has been a great deal of back and forth over F2245 (Standard Specification for Design and Performance of a Light Sport Airplane). The Committee on LSA has always been viewed as a poster child for rapid development and flexibility, being “able to accelerate their standards writing activities and respond efficiently and effectively to marketplace needs.” But the downside of flexibility is the frustration of manufacturers at the mercy of a changing standard, who are sometimes required to make alterations to their aircraft and ultimately, their businesses. We’ve coined the term ‘ballot fatigue’ to capture the sentiment that some manufacturers are expressing regarding the pace of change.

How many changes have there actually been? And of what significance are they? What was the driver for the change initially? Given how frequently these questions are being asked, we set out to help provide some perspective for the answer—at least for the most frequently revised standard, F2245.

Ballot Activity Infographic
ASTM Standard F2245 (Airplane Design & Performance) Ballot Activity From 2010 Through 2014

As seen in the figure, there is a consolidation process that occurs as ballots are approved, get published by ASTM, and the ultimately get accepted or recognized by Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs). In the United States, for example, the twenty-seven approved change over the five-year period became real to aircraft manufacturers just four times through the FAA Notice of Availability process—a little less than once per year.

The categories of changes fall into six different categories, each outlined below.

Authority Request (33%)

Nine of these changes were made under the first and most common category, the Authority Request. One-third of the changes made were requested by a CAA. Seven of those ten were a direct result of the Zodiac CH 601 XL investigation. These standards changes included the addition of Operating Maneuvering Speed (VO), calibration of Airspeed Indication System and the elimination of inconsistencies in never-exceed speed (VNE) definition. The other authority requests were made for improving international applicability of the standard (consideration of variable pitch propellers and a new appendix for related requirements when an aircraft is equipped with a variable pitch prop).

Improvement (26%)

There were seven instances when the standards’ existing content was clarified or improved. Some of the items affected by this category of change include minimum useful load, glider towing operational and structural cone angles, and clarification of permanent deformation of structures at limit load. These changes were made to reduce and eliminate confusion.

Safety (15%)

Four safety changes included: IFR/IMC placard or kinds of operation, fuel tank fuel strainers, engine/airframe/propeller vibration interaction, and enhanced safety belt requirements stemming from NTSB fatal accident investigations.

Administrative (15%)

Four of the changes were made to adjust content between standards and/or sections for organizational purposes, often in light of the whole body of standards. When making an administrative change, the committee was diligent to look at all of the standards, not just F2245, when considering content. Sometimes one standard affects, clarifies or confuses another. Administrative changes are made to keep the body of standards running smoothly together. One of those changes involved references to Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) specifications. Two others resulted in harmonizing the information on nose gear loads and firewall thickness.

New Developments (7%)

Periodically new subjects or issues are brought to committee which are deemed appropriate and important enough to be included in the body of standards. When that happens, the change is categorized as a New Development. In the case of F2245 there have been two new developments in the past five years: the integration of electric propulsion and the requirement to use an approved propeller on LSA airplanes.

Editorial (4%)

Editorial changes are made when a correction or clarification of existing content doesn’t affect the meaning or technical aspects of the item at all. The lateral mass ratio equation in the appendices was corrected as an editorial change.


There have been a lot of ballots over a five year period which has created ‘ballot fatigue’. This is certainly unhealthy for the overall industry because people that are tired of reviewing ballots tend to take less care in commenting and voting. The committee leadership is regularly discussing this, putting tools in place, and deliberating carefully in selecting work each year. We have cataloged over one-hundred suggested changes across all of the F37 standards and spend significant time in each committee meeting reviewing the pros and cons of each item. Many items haven’t been pursued due to a lack of positive impact on the industry overall and a recognition of ‘ballot fatigue’. Some other observations follow below:

  • There have been between five and six successful ballot topics per year that have translated to a little less than one required change per year for US manufacturers and a total of two changes for European LSA. Other countries like China accept the ASTM-published changes immediately for Type Certificate and Production Certificate applicants. In frameworks like this, close attention to standards changes is important as a manufacturer nears the point of certificate issuance.
  • Fatal accidents have driven well over one-third of total balloting activity and about one-third of all accepted ballots. One key strategy for reducing ‘ballot fatigue’ is to design, produce, and support aircraft that are safe through true compliance to the standards.
  • Due to the nature of the ASTM process, there is ballot activity related to changes that do not pass through the voting process. In addition, there are subcommittee ballots for each item as it is being developed. This significantly increases the total number of ballots and adds to ‘ballot fatigue’. It also can become difficult to understand why the same ballot items seem to appear multiple times. For those where this causes problems, one strategy is to retract participation at the subcommittee level. This will eliminate almost half of the total ballots while still having an opportunity to review and vote on every item at the main committee level (final vote).

Streamline Designs and the ICON A5

Adam with ICON A5 Cert Team

ICON Aircraft, a cutting edge airplane manufacturer, and Streamline Designs (SD), a consulting and technical solutions company, began working together in 2014 with the purpose of bringing ICON’s A5 through its FAA audit. ICON was in the process of designing their first aircraft, an amphibious LSA (Light Sport Aircraft) that promised to change recreational flying. Their goal is simple, make flying as fun and freeing in reality as it always is in people’s heads. They just needed a little help. Enter Streamline Designs.

After SD’s initial evaluation of ICON’s overall strategy, plans, and timeline for getting to the FAA audit in early 2014, several improvements were suggested which resulted in significant cost and time savings. From here, both companies agreed to an ongoing consulting relationship.

“Working with ICON to help assure a smooth and successful LSA certification is a perfect example of our focus on enabling solutions,” said Streamline Designs Owner Adam Morrison. “We were able to quickly integrate with the capable ICON team to achieve verifiable compliance and readiness for the FAA audit across the entire business.”

ICON-A5-overhead-water-darkThroughout the process, Adam and Streamline Designs worked with ICON’s engineering, quality, manufacturing, and production teams in order to create the best possible aircraft and meet the regulatory and ASTM standards for the FAA audit. Regardless of the quality of work on an aircraft, it can’t be sold if isn’t granted an airworthiness certificate. SD was able to help navigate the compliance and testing process, answer interpretation questions, and provide strategic guidance throughout the process. Adam also conducted a mock audit and comprehensive review leading up to the FAA audit to verify the readiness of the organization.

Early in 2015, SD was contracted to create both the Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) and Maintenance Manual for the A5. With the FAA audit scheduled for mid June of 2015, the timeline was extremely aggressive, but Streamline Designs delivered on time and the POH and Maintenance Manual had zero findings during the audit.

Adam said about taking on the technical publications, “The success of these manuals reflect the ability of Streamline Designs to quickly bring tangible, value-added engineering and technical publication solutions to complement the existing strengths of a team.”

ICON A5 two planes over waterOn 11 June 2015 the FAA issued the first S-LSA airworthiness certificate for ICON’s A5, which means ICON can now begin customer deliveries for the aircraft. It was an exciting day for ICON and Streamline Designs.

As Adam reflects on the experience he says, “As I became more intimate with the A5 design, I truly understood that the ICON mission and the mission of Streamline Designs to help companies solve really tough challenges are in perfect alignment. The A5 is a special airplane, and it is an honor to be part of the team that’s making it available to customers.”

See related press release here.

LSA Manufacturer Training, A Controversial Topic

Requiring periodic manufacturer training for compliance to ASTM standards exists in many industries. From environmental compliance to flammability requirements for clothing, many standards-regulated groups agree globally that a culture of trained personnel is beneficial for actual compliance and the peace of mind that comes from it.

Last January, Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) ASTM Subcommittee F37.70 on Cross Cutting issues, voted on the addition of section 12 to F2972, Standard Specification for Light Sport Aircraft Manufacturer’s Quality Assurance System, which requires periodic manufacturer training. Section 12 requires those individuals who sign statements of compliance, within the Quality Assurance Administration (QAA) of an organization, to have taken and passed a training program which meets the requirements of Practice E2659 (E2659-09ε1 or the Standard Practice for Certificate Programs, which provides guidance for developing and administering quality certificate programs) and F2972-14.  Despite the passage of this standards change, there seems to still be a great deal of controversy surrounding it within the LSA industry.

Currently there is no required ‘check point’ in the self-certification process that verifies a baseline level of understanding of compliance. Some nominal, industry-wide standard will be helpful. This is part of a larger, two-pronged approach to improve education about compliance and help the industry retain as little formal oversight as possible from authorities. The training requirements ensure that any individual signing a Statement of Compliance has an understanding of the standards and how they apply to aircraft.

A Brief History

For those not familiar with the history of this new requirement, it was 2010 when the F37 Executive Committee first recommended the development of a training program, and there was quite a bit of resistance to it. Required training was just one item in a prioritized list presented at the July ASTM meetings in Oshkosh, WI in response to FAA concern over the industry as a whole. Later that year, the FAA recommended the development of a third-party training program. Over the next two years the FAA became increasingly insistent that the industry demonstrate consistent and competent self-regulation before they (the FAA) had to take additional action, which was unlikely to be beneficial for light aviation. The ballot including a training program was first introduced at the September 2013 meeting and would be brought to vote four times over the course of the next year.

Over the course of the ASTM consensus process, there were persuasive negatives in four key areas on the ballot. First, there were concerns about the course cost, sustainability and complexity. The second persuasive negative was over the frequency of recurrent training. Third was a concern related to the scope of the standard itself, and the final persuasive negative was a desire to see the allowance of additional methods of compliance.

Each of these were discussed at meetings and carefully reworked by the task group until the ballot passed in 2014 October with only two non-persuasive negatives.

Going Forward

If the vast majority of aircraft delivered are truly compliant to the standards, then the industry will be much more healthy long-term. This will be especially true under the scrutiny of governments and media when fatal accidents occur. In addition, the FAA has given the industry a pretty long leash already, but we haven’t stepped up adequately. We can choose to shape our own future through engaging the standards-making process for what we do, or we can let regulators try to do it for us through their bureaucracy.

The ASTM standard allows for anyone to offer a training course that fits the bill, including manufacturers developing courses internally. There is one course available through ASTM as well. Currently the course is two full days with certificate testing for an additional fee.

Now Required: ASTM Compliance Training

ASTM Sunriver Training Class

Adam Morrison of Streamline Designs recently led a class of 15 through the ASTM Technical & Professional Training Course on the ASTM Standards for Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) in Sunriver, Oregon. The training course, offered through ASTM, is recommended for anyone who is manufacturing Light Sport Aircraft, as well as management, engineers, distributors, and other personnel who would benefit from understanding compliance to the governing body of ASTM standards.

This particular class was unique in that several different manufacturers were represented including: ICON Aircraft, Synergy Air, Van’s Aircraft, Kitfox Aircraft, Cub Crafters and Glasair. Two auditors from the FAA also participated and spoke favorably about the experience. Not only did the FAA feel good about the class but the majority of participants shared that the information was relevant and had high value for them in their role within their company, the industry, and their own professional lives.

An ASTM-proctored, LSA Training Certificate is part of the industry’s continuous improvement of self-regulation practices. Recent changes to the quality standards for those signing declarations of compliance requires that signatories be trained. The new standard states that “Any member of the Quality Assurance Administration, identified in the Quality Assurance Manual, must have completed, with documented records, a standards training program within the preceding four years. The training program must leave the student with understanding of [requirements, methods, means, and verification of compliance to the ASTM standards.” The ASTM class, led by Adam, is one way for manufacturers to comply to this requirement. In the next 12-18 months, as additional regulatory bodies adopt the new policy, certified training in compliance will become mandatory, which is especially important in countries where manufacturers self-declare compliance. The training program, which has been offered for several years now, has been modified in a direct response to a push from authorities for people who are signing declarations of compliance to know exactly what their signature means.

For further information, see the ASTM Technical and Professional Training Website.

Elegant and Green

We replaced our dinosaur (11 year old!) Dell laptop last week. After I signed for the box and we opened the package, the first thing I noticed wasn’t the number of USB ports or the color of the casing. It wasn’t the slim power supply. It was the absolutely elegant packaging solution.


The box was small. I knew the size of the machine we ordered and was a bit surprised at the size of the box. Then I opened it . . . and saw this:


I remember when electronics and appliance boxes were full of styrofoam that required frustrated sighs, shaking the box, a two-man team, and running the vacuum after the device was liberated from its packaging nest. None of that here. But the best part was yet to come. The tidy cardboard insert had this piece of grippy plastic across its top, with the laptop neatly held under it, retained with nothing but friction.

DSC01297 DSC01298

This plastic is reminiscent of those clingers, seasonally used on elementary school classroom windows, or with university logos printed on them. Two small strips of adhesive kept the plastic in place and the short ends were simply folded under to stretch the plastic across the laptop, securely holding it in place. Brilliant!


After our normal product trial period here, I will flatten and recycle the cardboard and let the children make window clingers with the plastic.

Thank you, packaging designers, wherever you are. We love simple, affordable, and elegant solutions too.

We ask ourselves, “How can we add value?”

Airplane Aerodynamic Model

When was the last time you had to do something over, because it was more important in the urgent moment, to have the appearance of being “done,” of “having arrived?” And how often it is that we believe that success, or at least this appearance of success, is what draws others toward us — as people, as businesses, as communities?

But is this true? Yes, our track records do matter. But what is a track record made of except the real value that we add to our endeavors? At Streamline Designs, instead of striving for a certain appearance, we simply consider adding value: adding value to our engagements, adding value to our families, adding value to our industry. We believe that adding real value changes not just the way things look, but the way they actually are.

Our goal is to meet you right where you are, to learn about who you are and where you have come from, to get an idea of where you think you are going, and to help you get there.

If certification issues have your attention, we want to add value in that spot. If information management has “got your goat,” then let’s get things unstuck and resolved together. Or maybe a ninth customer just called with that same field issue, and you don’t have enough engineering help on site. We would love to hear from you. Enabling solutions for difficult problems are our specialty, it is just where we love to add value.

The Backpack


So Adam just ordered this new backpack.

We hope it arrives in time for our AirVenture departure. He travels quite a bit, and has traversed the globe through airports and public transportation, preferring to do so hands free. His previous pack, also by Wenger, lasted about 8 years. It was a workhorse. We love(d) it. Perfect pocket placement, understated styling, and enough structure to stand upright. Obviously Swiss Gear (Wenger) has achieved some brand loyalty with the engineers. The only complaint he had is that 90% of the old pack is still completely useable. The interface between the strap and the top of the pack goes through several layers of various materials, including some plastic piping. Had the manufacturer left a larger seam allowance, the pack would likely have lasted many more years, I believe. Design for failure? Have I mentioned my theory on consumer product design for failure? Oh well, I will cannibalize the hardware off of it and Adam will (hopefully) enjoy his new pack.

See you at AirVenture!

See Adam’s new laptop backpack here.