LAMA: Higher LSA Weight Good For The Industry

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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.

Comments (7)

"While that may hurt the sales of new light sport airplanes,"

Anyone care to take a guess as to what a 150 will cost you in 2 years?

Posted by: Robert Ore | July 24, 2018 8:26 PM    Report this comment

The LSA concept was flawed from the beginning and specifically designed to exclude existing trainers so as to boost sales of new European designs. The training environment did not appreciate the fragile planes that could not carry American sized students and fuel. The only good thing that came out of the concept was that it proved that all the old pilots without medicals were flying perfectly fine without any increase in accidents.

Why not just get rid of the medical for small 2-4 seat "trainer" class planes and let designers and pilots choose what they want?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 25, 2018 7:05 AM    Report this comment

Wow. I never thought I'd actually ever like a thing Dan "The Schill" Johnson ever says...but even he realizes that weight limit was a joke that wasn't funny. Good to see it finally going away, even if it's taking way to long to do it---but isn't that the way thing work in aviation in America anyway...sigh...at least it's finally getting done.

Posted by: Michael Livote | July 25, 2018 9:50 AM    Report this comment

Sure, 1320 Lbs is an arbitrary number, but then so is 750 Kg (1654 Lbs). Any number chosen will be arbitrary, but with a reason or purpose. 1320 Lbs is 600 Kg. I'm sure that had some bearing on standards for a European class of aircraft, but it wasn't adopted in America to help European Designs, rather it conformed with the European class, and if American's wanted to make something that could qualify to a broader market, they could. LSA class has been adopted as an ASTM standard for many countries around the world.

Hopefully in the new classification they will remove the "Reciprocating Engine" requirement so we can better develop and utilize electric propulsion. Also hope they allow for automatic constant speed props too.

When considering "American Size" people, where should the upper limit weight limit be placed. No matter where it is placed, it is still an Arbitrary Number, but hopefully with a reason and a purpose.

The word arbitrary as it is used today has a negative connotation as if there was no thought behind it, rather is is an unsatisfactory, random number chosen. The LSA number and what ever it is changed to are not ever arbitrary in that connotation.

Posted by: Jon Durr | July 25, 2018 2:37 PM    Report this comment

I think the fear that a higher weight limit (thus allowing legacy aircraft like the 150/152 to be LSA) hurting new plane sales is a non-issue. Most of the new LSA designs are far superior in performance to a legacy plane and most younger would-be pilots prefer a modern design anyway. It would be nice if the FAA fast-tracked this proposal, but better late than never. The big loser could be the Cessna 172 if more robust LSA type aircraft successfully moved into the training market.

Posted by: John McNamee | July 28, 2018 7:03 PM    Report this comment

Need to get it right for Electric Flight. Current regs are a straightjacket.

We're late, but it's still early in the game.

Posted by: Jon Durr | August 8, 2018 4:35 PM    Report this comment

Why that weight? Why not raise it to something that would actually be useful, like 1800? That would include far more two sear aircraft like the Piper PA-18. The PA 18 (max gross 1750) is still a low and slow plane, but it can carry enough that you could actually add some camping equipment and still be legal. 1650 is still not enough to make a bush type plane truly useful. Also why not raise the speed limit while you're at it? 120 is ok, but not great if you want to fly from Ohio to the Grand Canyon. ( Trust me, I know, I've done it twice in a light sport - its slow going)

Posted by: Fred Wellman | September 2, 2018 9:12 AM    Report this comment

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