...Blakey, LSA And Q&A: What We Learned

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Aside from wandering into the wrong airspace at the wrong time (TFRs), being able to wander in it at all under the LSA rules (and with what medical conditions) was a hot topic generating concern, questions ... and confusion. Blakey settled down to an hour of AirVenture's annual question-fest in her best effort to clear things up (or at least to be communicative). Nearly one thousand AirVenture visitors attended. "The second century [of flight] is beginning with Sport Pilot-Light Sport Aircraft." ... "I believe the rule will have a profound effect on local and national economies." Then came the questions... ranging from making Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) more accessible and up to the minute -- which the FAA is doing (says Blakey) -- to LSA and medical history. If you haven't already, click through to see what happened.

Multiple questions focused on the medical licensing for Sport Pilot, most specifically, the direction pilots who have been denied medicals in the past will need to go. During the administrator session, the FAA seemed to indicate that special medical exemptions would be handled for Sport Pilot in much the same way as they are currently handled for private pilots. Not so, says EAA Communications Director David Berkeley.

Just after the conclusion of Meet the Admin, Berkeley made the rounds, alerting media that statements made during the session might not have been quite accurate. "We're still trying to get clarification" on that, Berkeley told AVweb. "The comments made today [by the FAA] were a concern to me. There are some inconsistencies on the FAA Web site." Berkeley hopes a meeting scheduled to take place between the feds and EAA during AirVenture will iron out the "inconsistencies" and give potential Sport Pilots who have been denied medicals the information they need. Pilots never officially denied a medical would be able to apply for a Sport Pilot license the same as anyone else.

One questioner was a CFI, asking what he needed to cut out of the private pilot training (40 flight hours) to still ensure safety for a pilot who will only need 20 hours under Sport Pilot. "What don't I teach?" to get there, he asked. It's going to be "less complicated, planes will be simpler to fly," responded the FAA's Sue Gardner. "We feel that the training required will be appropriate for the type of aircraft and the privileges the pilot will get."

Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft is still a rule in flux. Says EAA chief Poberezny, "We're involved in proactive advocacy. We won't always agree [with the FAA] but we will work together. It's not perfect. There's a lot to do. But it won't work if there's an adversarial relationship." Blakey takes in more of Wittman Field on Friday, spending time in the warbirds area, meeting with flight instructors and aviation legend Burt Rutan, and shoveling a spade of dirt at the new Oshkosh air traffic control tower before heading home. But no matter what else happens, Blakey has made new friends and fans down on the farm.

As for TFRs... The FAA Web site now offers updated TFR information, easily accessible (cough) in real English (hack), said Blakey. And, in fairness, presentation and accessibility have greatly improved. On the issue of the future of the management of Flight Service Stations, Blakey told the crowd that the feds are looking to improve the service in a number of ways that includes the best service for the best value. Proposals on FSS are due in August; a decision will come from Washington in March of next year. "We are committed to first-rate service," says Blakey. She stressed that the service is solid and safe, but says it doesn't make sense to spend millions more on FSS technology until it becomes certain in which direction (public, private or a variation thereof) the service will go. On the flap over a proposed new Air Tour Rule, Blakey could add little, saying that the decision on the changes have not yet been made. "We are evaluating all the comments now and hope to get it right," she said.