Light Sport Pilot Amphibious Exemption Sought

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Last week, the FAA granted an exception for one aircraft (Czech Aircraft Works "Mermaid"), but an ultralight pilots' group is asking the FAA to allow those with Sport Pilot certificates to operate the retractable gear on all amphibious aircraft that meet the Light Sport Aircraft criteria. The stopgap measure would exist while paperwork to fix the "error" made in the original Sport Pilot rule is corrected. According to Aero Sports Connection (ASC), the FAA has, after almost two years of lobbying by amphibian pilots, agreed to change the rule regarding retractable gear. The way it's written now, those with a Sport Pilot ticket can only use an amphibian as a land or water plane. They're not legally allowed to reposition the gear in flight. The ASC says the rule change is imminent but, after waiting almost two years, pilots wanting to take advantage of the better weather aren't eager to wait through summer for the new regs to make it through the whole rulemaking process. That may be the case if the normal comment and implementation periods are followed. The ASC says it will administer the interim exemption, in which it proposes that Sport Pilot ticket holders be trained in use of retractable gear and the training logged and that amphibious aircraft be placarded to the effect that only those with the applicable training be permitted to operate the gear in flight. There are several LSA amphibians either on the market or on the cusp of FAA approval.