...Long-Term Benefits Huge
EAA's Lawrence told AVweb the real impact of the new rule won't start to be felt until about six months from now, when the standards and policies spawned by its enactment start coming into play. Although manufacturers and groups representing sport-aviation interests have been meeting for two years to create the manufacturing, maintenance and flight-training infrastructure necessary to support the new aircraft class, none of it could be finalized until the rule became a reality. Lawrence said there should be a number of "firsts" over the next six months (first flight-test examiner, first LSA-certificated airplane, etc.) and then over the next three years the industry will fill in behind them. Lawrence expects that within five years, all of the services and opportunities normally available to GA (flight schools, maintenance facilities, aircraft manufacturers) will be as commonly available to sport pilots. And while many will be content to fly within those limitations, Lawrence noted that all Sport Pilot time logged can be applied to private and commercial ratings. Eventually it's predicted that 10,000 new aircraft and 30,000 new pilots will join the system each year because of the new rule.