LSA Safety Conference "A Good First Step"

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Representatives from the FAA met with industry advocates at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday to discuss a variety of issues that have arisen regarding light-sport aircraft since the category was created 10 years ago. "We had a very productive three-hour meeting, and the FAA was very responsive," Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, told AVweb. "We had 23 people there, including four from the FAA, and representatives from LAMA, U.S. Ultralight Association, the Aircraft Kit Industry Association, EAA, and AOPA." Johnson said the main topics of discussion were commercial use of LSA, clarification of some confusing regulations regarding flight instruction, and a recent policy draft that seemingly could prohibit carrying passengers in electric-powered aircraft and aircraft converted from S-LSA to E-LSA. 

In some cases, Johnson said, the FAA representatives said the way the rules are written don't accurately reflect their policy stand. For example, one regulation has caused confusion about whether the time logged with a sport pilot instructor can later be applied to a private pilot rating. "They said they never meant to imply that it couldn't be," Johnson said, "but the way the regulation is written, it's unclear." Johnson also said the industry would like to expand the commercial use of LSA. Overseas, LSA are often used for purposes such as crop dusting and glider towing, he said, and they are used in the U.S. by government agencies that aren't subject to the FAA rules, for border patrol and law enforcement. "An LSA is much more economical and quieter than a helicopter," Johnson said. The industry also would like to be able to certify gyrocopters and electric-powered aircraft under the LSA rules, and to simplify the process to permit instruction in ultralights. "So we got these things on the table," Johnson said. "It was just a start, but it was a pretty big first step." Johnson said everyone at the meeting agreed to continue the discussion and meet again at a later date, but no time or place has yet been set.