AOPA says the requirement for a Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) for CFIs to teach in experimental aircraft will end with President Joe Biden’s signature on the latest defense authorization bill. The bill passed by the House on Dec. 8 contains the language necessary to end the paperwork exercise. “The bill is expected to pass the Senate soon and arrive on the president’s desk for signature,” AOPA said in a story published Friday.
After a 2021 enforcement action against a company flying warbirds in Florida exposed legal holes in FAA’s method of authorizing flight instruction in non-certified aircraft, the agency began requiring the LODAs. Although the process was streamlined as much as possible and most CFIs who applied were quickly granted the LODA, AOPA said the abrupt move was a sea change for flight instruction. “The FAA legal office has turned the definition of flight training upside down and this provision is only the first step in getting us back to where we were and where we need to be. Flight training is a safety issue and we don’t need anything that impacts that in a negative way,” said AOPA President Mark Baker.
Assuming the provision makes it through the Senate’s version of the bill and gets President Joe Biden’s signature there’s much more to do, said Baker. The next phase will be getting a law passed that returns flight training to the status quo. “We will continue to work with our friends in Congress to take the next step and codify the definition of flight training that has been used for more than 60 years,” Baker said.
Russ, kudos for a timely story. FWIW, the FAA legal department clearly won the battle with the erranrt warbird outfit… but lost the war of credibilty. Let’s hope the Senate follows through. Whomever the unnamed FAA litigation team might have been really screwed the pooch with their highly questionable strategy. I’m sure they were individually and collectively awarded large monetary awards and heartfelt commendations by the then head of the FAA.
I’m a bit confused here. It sounds like they are ending the work around without yet creating a new approval process. How is that a good thing?
The article says the need for the approval process *will* end, once the bill with the necessary language to remove that requirement is signed into law.
I think the last paragraph of the article is talking about the longer-term issue of fixing the FAA reneging decades of precedent of how flight training has been treated to prevent future potential unnecessary paperwork (or worse) issues.
They are changing federal law, so it would override the recently changed interpretation of an unchanged regulation. Basically the law over-rides the court interpretation of “for hire”.
If anyone wants the specifics, below is the text from today’s version of the bill (H.R. 7900). The last sentence would make it effective immediately and the FAA is directed to change the regs accordingly. There would be no need for a NPRM process of months to go through the Admin. Procedures Act steps usually needed for a new reg, since this law specifically grants authority to change regulations.
Of course, this is not in the Senate version, so if this ever becomes law will boil down to what happens in the conference committee when the two houses try to mesh the House and Senate versions.
“SEC. 5325. FLIGHT INSTRUCTION OR TESTING.
(a) In General.–An authorized flight instructor providing student
instruction, flight instruction, or flight training shall not be deemed
to be operating an aircraft carrying persons or property for
compensation or hire.
(b) Authorized Additional Pilots.–An individual acting as an
authorized additional pilot during Phase I flight testing of aircraft
holding an experimental airworthiness certificate, in accordance with
section 21.191 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, and meeting
the requirements set forth in Federal Aviation Administration
regulations and policy in effect as of the date of enactment of this
section, shall not be deemed to be operating an aircraft carrying
persons or property for compensation or hire.
(c) Use of Aircraft.–An individual who uses, causes to use, or
authorizes to use aircraft for flights conducted under subsection (a)
or (b) shall not be deemed to be operating an aircraft carrying persons
or property for compensation or hire.
(d) Revision of Rules.–The requirements of this section shall
become effective upon the date of enactment. The Administrator of the
Federal Aviation Administration shall issue, revise, or repeal the
rules, regulations, guidance, or procedures of the Federal Aviation
Administration to conform to the requirements of this section.”
Reading the bill, I am not sure what Mr. Baker is referring to when he says this is only the first step in returning flight training to the status quo.
It looks like the law gives them exactly what they want
“…flight instructor providing student instruction, flight instruction, or flight training shall not be deemed to be operating an aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire”
Am I missing something, what else was he looking for, you think?