LODA Requirement To Last Four Years


FAA Administrator Steve Dickson says it will take about four years to rewrite regulations governing flight instruction in aircraft other than those in the standard category and until that’s done instructors will need extra paperwork. Speaking at the annual Meet the Administrator event at EAA AirVenture last Thursday, Dickson told the generally disappointed crowd that in the meantime instructors will need a letter of deviation authority to teach people to fly experimentals. If they want to teach on limited or primary category aircraft, they will need a written exemption. Dickson said he agreed the process is a “big documentation exercise, no doubt” but it is also a legal necessity. “I am not any happier about this situation than you are,” he said.

The new requirement came into effect July 12, a few months after a legal battle with a Florida P-40 operator revealed a contradiction between the regs and the guidance issued by inspectors. “We do need to rewrite the rule so that it says what we all want it to say.” Dickson said the agency is doing everything it can to expedite the LODAs and exemptions and most of those received so far have already been processed. He also said writing a new rule is a complex process that will take four years and that’s why the paperwork has a 48-month term.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. I never supported Mr Dickson’s appointment to the FAA. Now it looks like I was right, Mr Dickson is nothing more than another bureaucrat who has no love for GA. 4 years, talk about footdragging! I hope AOPA and other GA alphabet groups remember this when the time comes for a new administrator.

    • When was the last time there was an FAA administrator that actually supported GA? Randy Babbitt, maybe?

    • Actually, this wasn’t his fault or the FAAs at all in this case. The FAA made it easy for people to conduct commercial activity in planes not certified for it. The operator in Florida declared he was right and took the issue to federal court. This was 100% his fault. Once in federal court, all bets were off. The United States is represented by the US Attorneys office in federal court… not the FAA or even the Department of Transportation… that means the Biden Administration. They had no intention of dropping the case because the Democrats hate general aviation. You are the people with too much expendable income.
      The federal court had no choice but rule as they did. They had to use the real world definition of commercial operations. The FAA was always wrong in making their own definition.

      Now the FAA has to fix the mess created long before Steve was appointed. Hell, long before Steve began flying for Trump.

    • If you think a Biden administration appointment is good for general aviation… wow, you are lost.

  2. Well, they don’t call it the “Friendly Airline Agency” for nothing. If it takes four years to draft a relatively minor change to the regulations, I shudder to think how long it would take to formulate something really complex.

    • You have failed to see the magnitude of the problem. This ruling blew up all aviation and few really understood just how bad this problem is now because, when was the last time you read the regulations?
      Go through and contemplate just the logging of flight time by a private pilot. Think about check rides and biannual checks… the definition of commercial operation is in just about every part of the regulation. It is why it was put in place. Drone pilots only have commercial certificates. The manned flight may have to go to the same thing. If you can fly, you can make money doing it.

  3. I think Dickson is doing a good job here. He understands the FAA bureaucracy which includes present rulemaking. And he went to Oshkosh publicly stating what that relationship of bureaucracy with legal liability has resulted in regarding this particular case to an audience wanting something entirely different. And he gave the bureaucratic solution that only a bureaucracy can provide. He is one of the few bureaucrats who at least in this case spoke honestly.

    We just don’t like his bureaucratic answer. Do you think we will have a choice of his future bureaucratic replacement? And how will that change the bureaucratic process or the bureaucracy itself?

    Be happy we have a LODA process as a work around with a specific date range of applicability. Yeah, more paperwork. But even that P-40 operation that got sanctioned to start this mess can qualify if they want. Besides, what would you think a bureaucracy will provide? Simplicity…ease of application…timely approvals? Or another layer of bureaucracy we must navigate to get the desired results? Dickson put his big boy pants on and told to us straight. Good for him.

      • Think about the new definition of commercial operation as to the logging of PIC for private pilots…question, As a private pilot can you lawfully under current regulations complete a biannual light review, or flight test for that matter as PIC with an instructor? Remember, any instruction is a commercial operation and a private pilot can not act as PI or a commercial operation…
        I would have to say NO.
        That is the problem, the FAA knows what a big deal this is. It isn’t just some paperwork. Lawyers see these problems because they sit around reading regulations and laws.
        You fly around and rarely look at a regulation even for a flight review.

  4. Why does it take four years to re-write a poorly worded regulation? It took no time at all to negatively interpret a 60 year old rule and create an LODA program.

    • This change in the meaning of commercial has turned the regulations (all of them) on their head. Commercial operation is basically what the entire book of regulations was based on. Private pilots and operation of aircraft was separated to give the ignorant public a sense of understanding as to what they were getting into when they boarded an aircraft, and a way for lawyers to sue when things went wrong.
      Requiring a pilot to get 1500 hrs in a Cessna 150 before they can apply to fly for the airlines is beyond idiotic. But, one crash caused the FAA to react without logic changing the requirement from 250 hrs to 1500 hrs.
      This should be interesting, because right now, a flight with a DPE or instructor is a commercial operation. Money is changing hands and someone is reaping benefit. However, the person taking the check ride or taking a biannual flight review, can not act as pilot in command of a commercial flight… just F’n wonderful…
      Yes, this is a F’n mess.

  5. 4 years to rewrite a poorly interpreted rule? What has the U.S. become?

    “Paralysis by Analysis?”

    We went from the U.S. first orbital flight (Vangard) in 1958 to John Glenn’s first orbital flight in 4 years (1962). WW I and the Civil War didn’t last 4 years. We won WW II in 4 years. To call those in the FAA defending this nonsense “clowns” is to disrespect clowns–at least CLOWNS KNOW THEY ARE CLOWNS.

    Does ANYBODY really believe that getting permission (automatically granted) to deviate from a flawed directive ACTUALLY IMPROVES SAFETY?

    The Inhofe/Graves bills introduced in Congress are the perfect answer–prohibit the FAA from enforcing their own flawed laws. Let’s add a rider to those bills–“remove the FAA Administrator for malfeasance”–perhaps those below his position will get the message.

    • Four years is optimistic. How long have drones been around? Yes, the regulations on those are still a work in progress.
      The good thing about them is there are no private pilot certificates only commercial. So there is only certificate action on commercial operators.
      Now, think about the manned flight operations, specifically, student and private. Go read the regulations on how this effects the logging of time. Think about biannual flight checks, think about check rides, what about any instruction? For over 30 years now a private pilot could log PIC time with an instructor… however, a private pilot can not operate an aircraft as PIC during a commercial operation…
      Yes, this is very very very bad…
      And no, Steve and the FAA didn’t want this. This was the Biden DOJ that knew they could destroy general aviation, because yes, they hate you.

  6. The FAA needs to revamp flight training and proficiency requirements. It looks like pilots aren’t flying their planes, and when they ARE called upon to place their hands on the yoke/stick, they’re usually in a critical phase with low airspeed, low power settings and a small margin from a stall/spin. The twin Cessna fatal crash–just recently published with a probable cause–has me scratching my head. Who gets a business twin into a spin on a VMC approach profile? It’s even worse when these pilots stray into weather. Another twin Cessna; a turboprop, crashed after the pilot became spatially disoriented. That pilot was ATP rated, so figure he had lots of actual IFR and hood time logged. I won’t speculate on the OTHER twin Cessna that crashed in Monterey, but I won’t be surprised if that mishap is attributed to a pilot who needed more hood time and IMC flights with a safety pilot.

    • Sorry, but private pilots can not act as PIC during instruction… or during a biannual. So they will go away now. In less that 2 years private pilots will no longer be able to fly lawfully.
      Oh, and they can’t log PIC time either if an instructor is sitting there.
      I doubt they will waste money on having a instructor now. Why waste money on instruction? You can not lawfully do a flight check of any kind now. This further puts into question if any current commercial pilot became one lawfully.
      And all the ATP pilots have violated the regulations putting into question their character… oops, no more pilots.

  7. Four years to write what is in essence a clarification is unbelieveable and unacceptable. Are the FAA’s lawyers crafting the wording of the regulations, and are they paid by the hour? It’s always a bit of sick humor when somebody in a position of decision-maker, completely unaffected by the issue at hand, gives the old “This hurts me as much as it hurts you…” bleat.

    • I bet it takes longer… think about what changed with that definition of ‘commercial operation’…
      It wasn’t just experimental and limited categories of planes… this effects the logging of time by private and student pilots. If you are a private pilot, can you get a flight review?
      It doesn’t look like right now.
      Yes, the entire system of how pilots are regulated was blown up. There was always the big deal between commercial and private. Even how flight is taxed has now changed.

  8. The P-51 was designed and flown in 10 months. The Boeing 747 was designed and built in 28 months. Compare those monumental achievements to the current FAA process of changing a few written paragraphs at the expense of millions of dollars of tax payer money. The FAA is beyond idiocracy. It is its own banana repulic.

    • Not splitting hairs, Jim, but I remember that the highly successful P-51 gestation was shorter than that:

      “The prototype NA-73X was rolled out in September 1940, just 102 days after the order had been placed; it first flew on 26 October 1940, 149 days into the contract, an uncommonly short development period, even during the war.”

      See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_P-51_Mustang

  9. Politicians set up regulatory agencies. Once established, those agencies have dictatorial powers which are virtually impossible to hold accountable. That power needs checks on it. The sclerotic FAA needs to be totally revamped to include actual inputs and voting powers by stakeholders. Which stakeholders?
    How about GA, manufacturers, airlines and the FAA itself? The FAA could have power of rule making, unless overridden by unanimity of the others. The rule making would have input from the stakeholders. This is just a possible reform, possibly other was exist to streamline and prevent absurdities like we are having with the FAA. The present LODA situation is absurd and unacceptable.

  10. One kid gets caught chewing gum and the entire class gets punished. Considering the statement that a re-write will take 48 months: there are 41 months to go until the next inauguration. A curmudgeon may interpret Dickson’s statement as “…let the next FAA administrator worry take care of the LODA re-write…” The reality is that the aviation community will get used to the new rules, send paperwork off to the crumbling, overloaded FAA administrative infrastructure for eventual file and forget where I filed it sort of action.

    • Steve was appointed by Trump, Biden can replace him. I doubt anyone wants the job now.
      48 months is optimistic when trying to fix this mess.
      This ruling effected every single pilot and they don’t even know it yet.
      Go read the regulations under the new definition of ‘commercial operation’ and contemplate the logging of time by student and private pilots… yes, you can not lawfully get a flight review as a private pilot today. This also means no one can lawfully get a commercial certificate.

  11. I attended the ‘Meet the Administrator’ meeting at Airventure last Thursday. I was “loaded for bear” and ready to pounce on a subset issue of MOSAIC during audience comments but after listening to Dickson give everyone in the crowd multiple sessions of ‘oral gratification’ over LODA, et al, I decided I’d be wasting the audience’s time. We have a GA on life support needing an immediate heart transplant and he tells us we have to wait four years for it. Is he kidding? He did the same thing with MOSAIC, too! What Bravo Sierra !! There is no value added — translated, safety improvement (you know, FAA’s MAIN job) — in the aviation system by waiting four years for changes to LODA, as David Baker aptly opines above. The system was working just fine until the Florida operator decided to challenge them … and wound up hosing a system which WAS working fine for decades. Maybe THAT is the real message here … don’t challenge them or they’ll shove it up your … well, you know. As if GA and aviation in general didn’t have enough problems, now we have this new LODA thing. Thanks, Mr. Dickson.

    As I listened to him spew, I kept thinking, “Doesn’t this guy realize he’s now the Head Chicken Choker?” He wants us to believe that we have to wait years for the “system” to rectify what HE could fix by calling his First Report staff in and giving them a hard direction ultimatum and a short term date certain to deliver same. REAL leaders lead both by example AND by issuing directions to their herds when a popup issue needs immediate attention. Charlatans and bureaucrats just flap their jaws and allow the status quo to run the show. If I were running the show, I’d have told the crowd that by this time at Airventure 2022, the LODA problem will be history and we’ll have MOSAIC language IN place to EXCEED the 2023 mandate date. I thought flight instructors were the first line of defense in the air safety equation? Maybe there’s something I don’t understand? WHY do we even have to be dealing with LODA at all??

    It’s no wonder that a five year effort by the ARC — organized by FAA — to update FAR Part 23 completed in 2013, “Recommendations for increasing the safety of small general aviation airplanes certificated to 14 CFR part 23” was generally ignored and resulted ONLY in this thing we now call NORSEE. I guess that’s the best those high paid people could deliver? It’s no wonder that decades of intransigence on the subject of aeromedical reform had to forced upon them by Congressional action when a ‘perfect storm’ opportunity arose for Sen. Inhofe. It’s no wonder that MOSAIC — likewise — had to be forced upon them; they’re under Congressional mandate to deliver by 2023 … let’s just see if they make it. And now … they can’t even fix a minor administrative problem called LODA in less than four years and still another Congressional mandate is in the offing to DIRECT them to fix it NOW!

    IMHO, the worst thing that ever happened was to roll FAA into the DOT umbrella. it’s time to break them apart again.

    Lead, follow or get out of our way, Mr. Dickson! If you can’t do better than four years, it’s time for you to resign. YOU are the FAA PIC … start acting like you understand that.

    • As I think about it some more, LODA could be likened to a maintenance safety issue requiring issuance of an emergency AD. Skip the normal process and just issue a directive to — once and for all — will fix it. It’s NOT a major subject needing a full rulemaking process.

      • Take some time to contemplate the new definition of ‘commercial operation’, then look over how student and private pilots log PIC time…
        At this time I see no lawful way under the current regulations for a person to become a commercial pilot.

    • It will take a several teams of lawyers to mill over this latest court ruling.
      NOTE – this was a United State District Judge, not some flunky FAA puke or even a DOT turd making the ruling. A ruling not even the President can change.
      This was big. Much bigger than anyone has wrapped their heads around. This new definition of ‘commercial’ doesn’t just change the way things are done with Limited and Experimental planes. It changes how time is logged. It changes the ability of a student or private pilot to log flight time during a commercial flight. Yes, even a private pilot biannual is a problem now. It is a commercial operation by the new definition and a private pilot may not act as pilot in command of a commercial flight…
      Yes, this is a serious mess.
      And the lawyers are drooling…

  12. I requested a LODA to teach in an experimental. My student/owner requested one as well. We both got our letters in a little under a week. I was concermed when the rule came out as well, but it turns out it really isn’t a big deal. For instructors, the LODA grants approval to teach for compensation in ANY experimental. For owner/operators, its by tail.

    I’m usually in on the whining, but my guess is most of the commenters on here either aren’t directly affected or haven’t actually just tried to get their letter and move on with life.

    • We’re sorry that your car isn’t running right, Mr. Customer. We’ll fix it in four years. In the meantime, just don’t drive too fast and you won’t even notice that the engine is missing. You’ll get used to it. THAT is how we do business here at Acme Auto Sales.

    • See no issue of principle here? See no problems with when the next lockdown happens (FAA not at work)? See no issues with incompetence and arbitrary rule? You might give it a second thought.

      • You’re right, John !!

        I have a DOT / Highway Safety guy living next to me. He has a Gov’t car parked in the driveway which ONLY moves around when it’s in his way. I see him walking around all day long. He’s supposed to be out on the highways making sure the truckers are acting correctly and have their paperwork straight. How the hell he does that from his driveway escapes me? At Airventure, the FAA building was locked down yet the controllers were working and the Administrator and his senior staff showed up for the Meet the Administrator meeting. Who’s on first? What’s on second? Meanwhile, their normal paychecks just keep on flowing.

    • Why should we have to get “special permission” (LODA) for something that isn’t broken, and has been working fine for years?

      Why should homebuilders–whose aircraft have passed FAA inspection–be treated differently than owners of certificated aircraft?

      FAA preaches “get good, quality instruction” to EVERYBODY, including homebuilders, warbirds, and foreign aircraft–then want us to beg them to let us instruct in those airplanes.

      There IS something rotten in Washington–maybe it’s the stench of unworkable and rotting government–or maybe its in the waters of the Potomac.

    • Correct… most people haven’t realized the change in the interpretation of the word commercial operation has effected the way time is logged. Even if a private pilot can do a biannual flight review, or get a commercial certificate is in question.

  13. Holy S$&! everybody, calm down. You LITERALLY just send an email to [email protected] with

    Pilot Certificate:
    CFI Certificate:
    Acft Regis:
    Acft Make/Model:

    It takes like five seconds. Then you wait a few days for your approval. Then you are done. No forms, no nothing.

    Was it unnecessary? Probably. Does it increase safety? Nope. Is it worth the huge uproar? Probably not. We have more important things in which to plant our flag in GA. If the process was more complicated or took longer, Id still be out there with my pitchfork too. But it was so easy to get a LODA, like ridiculously easy.

    • Jamey … you’re not wrong BUT … I’d liken it to the Covid lockdown. Everyone has — quite literally — had ENOUGH from those people. With fewer words than the Administrator uttered at Airventure, he coulda fixed it on the spot. THAT is the problem. We ain’t gonna shut up and be sheeple any more …

      If Sen. Inhofe is taking steps to shut them down on the subjet … why is THAT necessary? And obviously HE thinks it’s important whether you do, or not. Why can’t the Administrator make an Executive Order?

      • I agree. If we wanted another bureaucrat to take the administrator job we could have kept Mr Huerta, the previous administrator. We all know how much he dragged is feet kicking and screaming when Congress got in the act on BasicMed.

        • Basic med made complete sense. If someone can get a drivers license to drive privately… airplane should be no different. When it is time to stop flying or driving, a person should know it and stop flying or driving. If they look dangerous, someone should tell them.
          I know of and have flown with people in their 80s and they do fine. Other people i their 80s knew it was time to stop even driving in their 60s.

    • We COULD apply for the LODA–but why bother? This government incompetence has gone far enough–in the country formerly known as the U.S.–we didn’t take to being serfs to the misguided whims bureaucracy. In 1773, King George decided to impose a special tax of 3 cents a pound on tea–resulting in the Boston Tea Party. Yes–it can be said that a revolution was started over such a trivial amount, primarily because it was used to pay the salaries of Colonial Officials.

      Equally important to the unjust taxes was the fact that Crown subjects had no say in the matter–it was simply imposed–giving rise to the “No taxation without representation” issue.

      THIS is the issue–yes, you can get an “exemption” from an Imperial and unsubstantiated decree–but why SHOULD we? Even worse, the fact that the FAA refuses to admit and rectify their error. We are indeed being abused by those who USED to work for US–we pay their salaries.

      Hooray for Graves and Inhofe–it’s a sad day when we have to appeal to our representatives to prevent government from imposing their whims. Where do we draw the line when it comes to “Government regulation by Fiat?”

    • You have no idea… this problem is far larger than anyone has even contemplated.
      The FAA lawyers do understand just how big of a deal it is, and few pilots have even realized just what a big deal the changing of the definition of ‘commercial’ really is.
      Think about this for just one second and you will see, aviation in America has been turned on its head.

      A private pilot can not log PIC during a commercial operation of an aircraft.

      Now, go look at the regulations again. That is right… no one can lawfully become a commercial pilot under the current regulations.
      Even more shocking… a private pilot can not lawfully under the current regulations get a check ride or do a biannual flight review…

      The definition of that one word blew up the entire student and private pilot world too.
      You don’t realize this yet, but some smart lawyers have.

    • Remember, the LOA is for commercial operation in a experimental aircraft. That letter covers the aircraft operation, not how the definition of ‘commercial’ effects the pilots flying any plane including certified planes.

      Yea, this is a HUGE deal.

    • You have no idea just how unhappy pilots are about to be…
      This change in the way commercial is defined doesn’t just effect the operation of plane categories.
      This effect all non commercial pilots and the way PIC time is logged.

    • Not under Biden… that ended with Trump…
      Get ready if you are a private pilot or student pilot… your world is about to be crushed. The definition of ‘commercial’ doesn’t just change with limited or e per mental aircraft…
      It also effects pilots and the logging of time as PIC…
      Right now, no one can become a commercial pilot under the current regulations and the definition change of ‘commercial’…

  14. So the FAA legal department crafts arguments that deep six decades of precedent (instructors can teach in private aircraft) and the Administrator “doesn’t like it as much as you do!!!” Who, exactly, is the Administrator of the FAA? The guy who is oozing sympathy for the bad outcome from his (HIS) legal department’s arguments??? Or the legal department? I don’t have much confidence in the FAA’s current Administrator to make sound decisions given that he has allowed his (HIS!) legal department to place him in an easily foreseen box. Not an impressive performance.

    • That was technically the U S Attorney’s office, not the FAA legal team. The changing of the definition of ‘commercial’ has blown up the entire FAA regulation system between student / private pilot and ‘commercial pilot’.
      Take some time to read the regulations over. My only suggestion for this problem is to do away with private pilot. Make them all commercial. They still can’t really work commercially in the airlines and that was the public freak out.
      Other wise…. It is likely none of the current commercial pilots got their certificates lawfully.
      How can that be fixed?

  15. And now I’m reading right here on Avweb that our Congress has had to order the military to fix the F-35 oxygen system problem. Does anyone in the Government work anymore?

  16. The real answer here is to change the definition of ‘experimental’ and ‘limited category’. That is where the FAA can change definitions. They never could change what ‘commercial’ means.
    I find it kind of odd that an RV is called ‘experimental when there are more of them flying then many certified aircraft… so, just what should define a ‘certified’ aircraft? Because I think the RV planes are not really an ‘experiment’.

  17. As I lay in bed contemplating getting a commercial sea plane add on….. it occurred to me that under the current court ruling, no private pilot could receive flight training and log PIC time even if the flight training was free. That is right, the FAA is going after people giving free training as a commercial operation without a LOA to do so… however;
    Any flight with a flight instructor has been defined as a commercial operation now, and a private pilot can not operate an aircraft as PIC during commercial operations.
    Yes, this gets very stupid…
    This means no private pilot can complete;
    1. A biannual flight review.
    2. Any further instruction to become a commercial pilot.
    3. Anything involving a check ride with a DPE, even if the check ride is given for free.

    This court ruling has effected all general aviation if you don’t currently hold a commercial certificate.
    Instruction, even if free, is now deemed a commercial operation.

    • There are now 52 comments on this article … as many as some of the controversial Paul B articles. That’s an indication that pilots are peeped off about this nutty ‘finding.’ No matter how “easy” it is to get around it, why should it be necessary? LODA is a perfect example of a bureaucratic Agency run amok !! Time to defund and reinvent it with a new Mission Statement as was done in 1958 !! If the senior executive can’t fix what his own Agency messed up … we don’t need him, either.

      I know multiple CFI’s and a DPE who are throwing in the towel; LODA has pushed them over the proverbial ‘edge.’

  18. The FAA had two routes on the interpretation of regulations;
    Put a hold on enforcing the many regulations that are in conflict with each other while they get everything sorted out or…
    Find everybody whoever logged PIC with an Instructor on board invalid and in violation of falsifying records.

    Keep an eye on your mailbox and get a lawyer. All you folks who thought you where “Pilots” have just been converted to “Pirates” Ahrrr.

    • Correct… few have grasped how far reaching the courts ruling really was. It currently isn’t legal for any private pilot to get a biannual flight review. The private pilot may not act as PIC during the review because it is now a commercial operation… even a flight with a DPE is a commercial operation.
      What a total mess.

  19. An elephant is a mouse, built to comply with FAA Regulations.
    When was the last time you saw an elephant fly – unless it was in a Disney movie?