FAA Proposed Rule Changes for Light Sport Aircrafts

Things are changing for Light-Sport Aircraft, rather positively so in my admittedly personal opinion.

This article will offer some new light to an enterprise approaching its 15th birthday (in September 2019). We believe you may be surprised by some of the things.

The Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) for the light aircraft industry, and its partner, the U.S. Ultralight Association (USUA), have been heads-down focusing on enhancing the chances for Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA).

Four Main Points Plus One Extra Option

In June 2018, after a series of meetings that began back in 2014, came a promising end. Here’s what we presume this implies for those who run and own LSA and the Light-Sport Aircraft manufacturing industry.

LAMA took a lengthy list of suggestions concerning the sector and reduced it to four main points. We had been told that a long list of items goes nowhere.

On the minimum budgets, we’ve been following these goals for four and a half years. The four main points are:

  1. Encouraging the FAA to let particular Light-Sport Aircraft do aerial work (beyond flight instruction and towing);
  2. Introducing the safety advantages (and functionality gains) that include adjustable propellers controlled solely by one lever;
  3. Urging the FAA to allow electric propulsion and education in aircraft designed for such motors; and
  4. Solving the ancient problem that needs contemporary gyroplanes to be constructed only as kits (with the attendant difficulty that no industrial coaching is possible).

After several meetings with project managers and FAA executives, we’re pleased to report that all these goals and one more raising LSA’s weight are contained in the present activities of the FAA regarding rulemaking.

Note that a new system aside from a fixed- weight number will most likely determine that gross weight although the accurate weight is pending while FAA officials settle the regulation programs.

To repeat these 4 points are on FAA’s list for inclusion in an eventual rulemaking.  Three to five years is a while to wait for change an industry that is not even 15 years old.

So, following a straight appeal from top FAA executives we filed a business case for a program that we hope will allow traders, producers, owners, operators, and pilots to exercise the four main points earlier.

The program we projected is an evaluation and data-gathering period that will give the FAA what managers and executives say they want more data to get approval to change the present regulations.

LAMA’s Plan will help pilots and the business, but it will also benefit the FAA.

Allowing the businesses and pilots to obtain new opportunities under controlled conditions can give everyone privileges from the near (er) term when generating valuable information for the FAA to use in justifying the regulation change.

LAMA and USUA are very happy to supply a super outlook, but warning that it took over four decades of work that is hard to reach this stage and, as a writer once wrote, anything can happen. Nothing must happen.

Weight Limits For LSA Could Change as Part of a New NPRM

Changes could offer pilots flexibility in aircraft’s kit construction.

An increase in the load limit for LSAs from 1,320 pounds to more than 3,000 could be arriving around Dec 2019 or in 2020 according to information released by the EAA and AOPA. Should that weight limitation become a part of the LSA guidelines together with a variety of pilot privileges that are enlarged, a sports pilot certificate holder may have the ability to fly an aircraft that weighs more than the legal weight limit?

However, the intricacies of load changes are just one possibility under the FAA’s Modernization of Airworthiness Certificates rulemaking attempts rolled from the bureau during AirVenture 2018.

Both EAA and AOPA have advised their members within the last couple of days that the FAA intends to issue a declaration of proposed rulemaking as early as January 2019 that will address LSA weight limitations as merely one of a variety of maybes, designed to permit pilots added flexibility in the construction of aircraft. The NPRM is expected to look at ways to add an electrical plane to the LSA category.

While a 3,600-pound weight limit was making the rounds on traditional and social media, that amount is far from an absolute at this point in time. The discussions so far have been around theories, an EAA spokesperson informed Flying.

Also, it is important to remember that this is the light-sport aircraft certificate for the aircraft, not to be confused with the sports pilot certificate for the pilot. Right now the 1,320-pound weight limitation is set under the current LSA/sports pilot rule for aircraft that can be operated under a sports pilot certificate.

Some aircraft weigh more than 1,320 pounds that meet performance parameters will be qualified for operation if that linkage would stay in any latest rulemaking. Cruise speed, sophistication, speed, and other elements would also be considered, so it is not quite as straightforward as weight = sports pilot eligibility, EAA added.

ultra-light airplane proposed rule changes

This Is Only The Beginning

In 2018 neither aircraft producers nor organizers were able to benefit from these opportunities. While the following years appears to carry great promise, LAMA and USUA have sought a quicker solution.

The changes should widen the appeal of LSA, a value not only leading to sales but also a higher value for the aircraft you purchase.  We are gratified of what we’ve been able to achieve on the skinniest of budgets, but we didn’t fly alone.

We also sought, and obtained, support for our initiatives from large organizations like GAMA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). When these giants of aviation firsts serve their members, LAMA is 100% focused on light-weighted aircraft.

Rule Making will take a minimum of 3 years or might be even longer before such rules come in action assuming no changes in the current activity.

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