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FAA Eyes ELSA, Electric Flight Restrictions

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The FAA is proposing banning passengers from flights in electric-powered aircraft and ready-to-fly light sport aircraft (SLSA) that have been converted to experimental light sport (ELSA) aircraft and stopping the aircraft from flying over built-up areas or at night. The LSA industry is responding with a call for those who might be affected to comment on the document and to email Craig.holmes@faa.gov to let their feelings be known on the subject. The Light Aircraft Manufacturers' Association (LAMA) says the few lines buried in a 322-page document known as FAA Draft Policy 8130(H) (PDF) have "the potential to severely curtail the degree to which you and your fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts are able to exercise the important freedoms of flight that have been won over many years."

LAMA says there is no safety argument to support the moves by the FAA, which are part of a general tweaking of aircraft certification regulations. LAMA says the impact on the burgeoning electric aircraft sector would be particularly hard-hit by the regulations if adopted. "[T]he action, if enforced, could sharply curtai[l] development of electric-powered aircraft," LAMA said in a news release. "The most promising sector of aviation to be early adopters of electric power includes LSA, light kits, and ultralight aircraft." The draft policy is sure to be a topic of conversation at Sun 'n Fun next week and at the CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium later in April.

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