Light Sport Airplanes For Aerial Work


If drones can do pipeline patrol and survey work, why can’t a light sport aircraft do the same? That’s the question the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association is asking the FAA to consider and the answer may eventually result in an approval for just such work.

“We’ve adopted the term aerial work, which is a European term, to get away from commercial use which might be interpreted to be passenger or cargo carrying which is certainly not part of our request,” says LAMA’s Dan Johnson, who spoke us about the proposal for this podcast at Sun ‘n Fun this week. Using the pipeline patrol as an example, Johnson said light sport aircraft are already effective in doing such tasks and have proven themselves. The airplanes are fuel efficient, quiet and have a licensed pilot on board. He said the FAA initially pushed back, arguing that the light sport rule was intended for sport and recreational use only. But it also allows flight instruction, towing and rental, which are definitely commercial activities.

“There’s a fuzzy line between that being OK, but flying a pipeline patrol is not OK,” Johnson says.

Rather that request a rule change, LAMA says it wants to see specific exemptions for qualified companies to conduct such work. It has proposed to the FAA to set up a monitoring system to track how the exemptions are working. He says the FAA has been responsive to specific light commercial or aerial work for light sport airplanes.