Weight Exemptions Hard To Get: LAMA

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The Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) and LAMA Europe are recommending Light Sport aircraft manufacturers think long and hard before they apply to the FAA for a weight exemption for their products. The agency allowed Icon a 250-pound weight increase for its A5 amphibian to allow it to incorporate structures Icon says will make the resulting aircraft spin resistant. Icon says it only plans to use 80 pounds of the exemption cushion. The rare exemption naturally led other manufacturers to wonder whether they might be able to get one but FAA Small Aircraft Directorate director Earl Lawrence told LAMA's meeting at AirVenture the decision was made to address the carnage from spin/stall accidents and really nothing else.  “Any company that addresses this may also be eligible for an exemption, but must meet all the exemption requirements, and still meet all current rules," Lawrence told the meeting. “All companies who can prove SRA by a production flight test may be eligible for an exemption and FAA would be pleased for spin resistant airframes (SRA) to become a standard feature of SLSA.” Although the comments were made in July, the LAMA advisory was not sent out until weeks later after all the agencies involved agreed to the wording. 

In the advisory, LAMA said that companies thinking of applying for the exemption should take the FAA's position to heart and decide if it's worth their while to pursue the application. The groups noted Icon spent a lot of money getting the exemption and that the process is a difficult one. Fully documented test results will be required. There are a lot of safety features that add weight to aircraft (parachutes, inflatable seatbelts) but LAMA doesn't recommend companies try to make a case for an exemption for any of them. Lawrence said the FAA already considered the addition of those features in the original Light Sport rule and the current weight limit of 1320 pounds (for land aircraft) already includes an allowance for those sorts of items.