LAMA: Higher LSA Weight Good For The Industry
While some light sport aircraft manufacturers may have misgivings about a higher gross weight for LSAs, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association President Dan Johnson says it’s a good idea and will be a boost for the entire GA industry.
“Anything that puts more people in the air and keeps them in the air is good for this entire industry,” Johnson told AVweb this week in this exclusive podcast recorded at AirVenture 2018. But there may also be winners and losers. “Always when you make changes, somebody may be hurt somehow … but we want the pie to be bigger and then everybody figures out how to get their piece of it,” Johnson said.
The weight limit changes were a surprise part of EAA Chairman Jack Pelton’s press briefing at AirVenture on Monday. Although not everyone in the industry seemed aware of it, the higher limit is about halfway through a four-year rulemaking process. “It did surprise us, I’ll admit. I knew there was talk about it. I didn’t think it was very likely to go through,” Johnson said.
“I think it means some fairly significant things, but the way they’re going about it is the right way. They’re going to go away from a number, which today is 1320 pounds for landplanes and 1430 pounds for seaplanes. That number will disappear and it will be a formula to arrive at it,” Johnson said.
He thinks it’s likely that the formula-derived weight limit could be around 750 kilograms, to match the European VLA limit. That’s 1650 pounds or about the weight of a Cessna 150. The implication is obvious: More legacy aircraft will be grandfathered into the sport pilot pool. While that may hurt the sales of new light sport airplanes, it also removes the arbitrary weight limit for manufacturers of new LSAs, potentially allowing them to offer more robust structures with more safety features and equipment.
Before the rule is finalized, Johnson says the light sport industry would like to accelerate things by actually doing what the new rule would allow. He said LAMA has approached the FAA with a cooperative plan. “We’ll help you collect that data if you’ll allow the industry to do some of these things under controlled circumstances—yet to be described. We collect the data then the FAA has what they need to sell the regulation change,” Johnson said.