LSA Weight Increases For Safety Equipment?

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Weight increases for light sport aircraft may be intended to allow for the installation of safety equipment, like ballistic parachutes, without affecting payload. Whether the weight increase will open legacy trainers like the Cessna 150 and 152 to be included in the category, as many people have suggested since the category was created in 2008, is not clear. In a podcast interview at Light Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA), told AVweb the weight increase proposal, which is at the earliest stage of internal discussions at the FAA, may be compensation for a joint proposal by EAA and AOPA to the FAA to relax medical requirements for pilots of certified aircraft with no more than 180 horsepower. Many in the light sport sector were surprised and angered by the proposal when it was announced last fall, particularly because there was a lack of consultation, Johnson said. The weight increase idea could be a sign that respect for light sport is growing, Johnson said.

He said the industry is maturing and has shown it is able to recognize and fix some of the self-regulation issues that have arisen in the eight years since light sport was enacted. That, he said, has boosted the sector's credibility. LSA, like other aviation sectors, is feeling the economic pinch and that was evident from a noticeable decline in exhibitors at Sebring. Johnson said companies that didn't display this year are not necessarily out of business but may be dormant. Most are small businesses that have that kind of flexibility, he said. Meanwhile, the market continues to be dominated by a handful of manufacturers and Johnson doesn't see that changing. The result could be further rationalization of the crowded field of light sport offerings.