LSA Weight Limit Increasing To 3600 Pounds (Updated)

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A high-ranking FAA source has confirmed that the FAA plans to almost triple the maximum weight for most light sport aircraft to 3600 pounds in rulemaking that will be introduced in January. The source confirmed the scant details of a Facebook post written by AOPA Senior VP of Media and Outreach Tom Haines from the AOPA Regional Fly-In at Carbondale, Illinois. Great news out of AOPA: your freedom to fly Fly-in at Carbondale,” Haines wrote. “In January the FAA will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking increasing max weight for a light sport airplane from 1320 lbs to 3600 lbs. And ADS-B rebate will be back again in a few days. More to come.” The FAA source declined to elaborate on details of the proposed rulemaking but suggested more information will be forthcoming "soon."

EAA Chairman Jack Pelton announced at AirVenture in July the FAA was planning a weight increase for the class of aircraft, which is now set at 1320 pounds for wheeled aircraft and 1430 pounds for seaplanes. Some designs, like the Icon A5, have been granted weight exemptions to accommodate safety features and equipment. The new limit will capture a wide range of aircraft that now require a minimum of a private pilot certificate to fly. What’s not clear is precisely how the rulemaking will alter performance limits, passenger loads and weather requirements for LSA operations. AOPA reported  Pelton told the Carbondale event that the new rule "will allow you to fly in a 172, have four seats in the airplane, and fly 150 MPH.” He also said there were plans to allow professional builders to assemble homebuilts.

Later on Sunday, AOPA President Mark Baker issued a formal statement in response to numerous inquiries about the news. "Over the past two years, AOPA has been working with the FAA, ASTM International Light-Sport committee and other general aviation organizations to improve and advance light-sport aircraft, including increasing the weight limit and incorporate new technologies like electric propulsion. The FAA has indicated it is on track to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in early 2019 which will include many of the suggestions for improvement," the statement said. "The rule will be a major step in making new, innovative aircraft accessible to pilots, by removing prescriptive barriers that are limiting aircraft designers, the flight training industry, and the strength of the pilot population.”

As for the ADS-B rebate, it will be a repeat of the $500 incentive launched last year that did not attract much interest. “I talked with the FAA administrator yesterday (Friday). He was comfortable with me telling you there’s going to be another $500 rebate,” the AOPA report quoted Baker as saying. AVweb has contacted industry leaders about the proposed change and the new ADS-B rebate program and will update this story as they get back to us.

Comments (29)

This will change the market for sure.

Posted by: scott van pelt | October 7, 2018 1:19 PM    Report this comment

I think they should just drop the weight and speed limits and leave the horsepower at 100 HP max. So, anything you could design around 100 HP would qualify as a light sport aircraft. Keep it simple!

Posted by: WILLIAM R NORTON | October 7, 2018 1:56 PM    Report this comment

Will the rebate be extended to those who installed ads-b after the original rebate program ended. Many reasonably priced units appeared after that.

Posted by: Philip Rutherford | October 7, 2018 2:00 PM    Report this comment

Some very good ads-b units came around after the end of the original program. It would be a very good idea to extend this rebate program to those who installed and qualified their aircraft after the original ended.

Posted by: Philip Rutherford | October 7, 2018 2:05 PM    Report this comment

Great news! I hope the proposal to increase LSA weights goes through.

Posted by: David Freed | October 7, 2018 2:14 PM    Report this comment

The increase in wt. to 3600 lbs. sounds like a winner for GA. Somebody must have let the word out early by looking at the price of 172s lately.

Posted by: Gary Smotherman | October 7, 2018 2:23 PM    Report this comment

"The increase in wt. to 3600 lbs. sounds like a winner for GA. Somebody must have let the word out early by looking at the price of 172s lately."

And with potentially more pilots looking at 172s, this will increase the price of existing 172s.

I'm hopeing that this will place some downward pressure of those LSAs "certified" at 1320lb.

Posted by: Robert Ore | October 7, 2018 2:40 PM    Report this comment

I've heard reference to four seats, 3600lb, and 150mph. Now, I won't complain about the weight number... but honestly I'd rather trade some of that weight increase for a further speed increase. How many four-seaters out there weigh 3600lb and only top out at 150?

Maybe if they could make it a kinetic energy limit and go by knots...then you could just about squeeze the RV-10 in there and all the others would fit fine underneath. That would capture most of the four-seat light GA market.

Posted by: Robert Gatlin-Martin | October 7, 2018 2:58 PM    Report this comment

Hoping for the extension of Repairman's Certificates to owners of second hand E-AB Kit Built aircraft. That is more important to me than the added weight allowance.

Posted by: R Michael Moore | October 7, 2018 3:08 PM    Report this comment

Don't start cherry picking the offering, boys !! Take EVERYTHING they'll give.

IF you can fly a C172 under LSA rules by giving up use of the two rear seats, that's great. But we STILL need relief on equipping and maintaining them. I think that if they're being flown under LSA rules, they ought to be able to be maintained under LSA rules, too. That is, an A&P ought to be able to do an annual condition inspection just like they can now for an S-LSA or E-LSA or E-AB. THAT would relieve the mechanic crunch greatly.

Last year we got BasicMed, now we got LSA weight increase. If we could just get maintenance relief, it'd be a giant step in the right direction.

I got the $500 ADS-B rebate last year ... it wasn't too hard. I predicted THAT would happen when they didn't use up the original 20,000 rebate dollars. Another wise choice.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | October 7, 2018 3:09 PM    Report this comment

"Now, I won't complain about the weight number... but honestly I'd rather trade some of that weight increase for a further speed increase."

You can do that. Simply build your RV-10 and place card "max sustained RPM of xxxx limited to 5 min." If the "most popular" LSA manufacture can do that, I don't see why you couldn't.

Posted by: Robert Ore | October 7, 2018 3:12 PM    Report this comment

How about getting the feds out of private aircraft certification entirely and let insurance companies determine what they are willing to cover? They have to compete and show a profit selling something that people want or they go out of business; governments don't, they just raise your taxes and hire more bureacrats. Criminal negligence penalties (with appropriate prison terms) should provide incentive against non-participation/coverage.

Posted by: denny jackson | October 7, 2018 4:30 PM    Report this comment

It would be great if the FAA would give owners of secondhand E-AB aircraft the same opportunity to earn a Repairman's Certificate for their birds as have owners of S-LSAs or secondhand E-LSAs. That is to take a 16 hr. course to be able to inspect or a 120 hr. course to be able to repair. Not an easy bar for secondhand owners to jump over, but such a rule would be inline with current FAA policy and thus, perhaps, easier for it to approve. There needs to be a way to keep older E-AB planes economically in a good, safe state of repair. This could also help improve the now poor resale value of homebuilts.

Posted by: Keith Shelbourn | October 7, 2018 5:51 PM    Report this comment

Now how about we really get rid of the 3rd class medical? If it does not require a type certificate to fly it, you don't need a medical. Simple enough. No limit on seats, weight, speed, self certification, taking tests, having your normal doc sign off...... blah blah blah. Un-complicate the regs. Is the public really any safer if a GA pilot goes to an FAA approved doc every two years to pee in a cup, check his/her eyesight and blood pressure? You don't have to do this to drive a car, operate a boat, etc. Why pick on the typical non-professional pilot? The third class medical is useless.

Posted by: LARRY FRASIER | October 7, 2018 6:10 PM    Report this comment

I may be cynical, but I can't help but think that this is going to end up requiring a medical for Sport Pilot.

Posted by: Ron Dillard | October 7, 2018 7:15 PM    Report this comment

What has to go away is the "annual" requirement for personal, owner-flown airplanes. Some form of repairman certificate, trained by a type club, and you should be good to go. It is YOUR life and YOUR airplane.

Posted by: ROBERT ZIEGLER | October 7, 2018 9:21 PM    Report this comment

I'm glad we bought this used 172 LAST week!

Maybe we'll see some of the ramp queens brought back to life if their owners don't need a medical to use them.

Posted by: Art Friedman | October 7, 2018 10:22 PM    Report this comment

There's some speculation that this is a bobbled kilogram/pounds conversion....that the actual value in the upcoming NPRM is 1,650 POUNDS, but someone read it as kilograms (e.g., 3630 pounds).

If so, expect to see some quick clarification early this week....

Posted by: ron wanttaja | October 7, 2018 10:38 PM    Report this comment

It is long past time for the FAA to get out of the business of figuring out how to prevent people from flying. Will the rule change(s) result in more deaths? Yes. Just like the number of automobile deaths increased as vehicles became more ubiquitous. But the FAA is not our parent with a charter to "keep us safe". Their job, instead, is to help us identify ways to operate safely rather than simply impose a set of fixed rules that must be followed.

A dynamic general aviation industry requires trial of lots of new ideas, so evolution happens faster than glacial flow. Perceptible innovation requires a large market with many buyers, users, and manufacturers. (Imagine if the FAA controlled the manufacture and use of cell phones...) The FAA does play an important role, but the scope and nature of its role is ripe for re-evaluation. There will be change that is uncomfortable, but the rewards will be enormous.

Posted by: Mark Chopper | October 8, 2018 12:27 AM    Report this comment

I wonder what will happen to the current crop of +$100K light sport planes, are they now out of business, can they build something that is a little heaver for a lower cost, weight dose cost $s.
This news comes out just 12hrs after I was looking at several models at a light sport expo and trying to justify spending more than what I paid for my first house for a plane.

Posted by: Darrin Towers | October 8, 2018 7:22 AM    Report this comment

I am more concerned about the PIC than the aircraft as long as they are certifiable under some standard. I have an ATP and amazed at the casualness of the pilot populations aviation knowledge, and what meds not to take. As for the drivers license thing, I get a new one very 10 years here in Florida.. We must have some yearly or every other year medical certification for our own safety.

Posted by: CHARLES VAUGHN | October 8, 2018 7:53 AM    Report this comment

I tend to agree this is a mix-up and the actual figure is 1650 lbs, that just makes a lot more sense. The current limit of 1320 lbs was always a problem. You can fly an old Cub, Champ or Luscombe but only the 65 horse models, not the highly dangerous 85 horse versions with an electrical system, starter and gasp!!..radio.

Posted by: Paul Irvine | October 8, 2018 10:40 AM    Report this comment

Considering they are talking about tripling the weight limit, it would seem like the 3600 pounds would be accurate. If it only went to 1650 pounds, you couldn't even use a Cessna 152. No matter, this may take years to materialize, if ever. There's an article from 2012 when they were talking about this very thing on AVweb.

Posted by: Randy Bourne | October 8, 2018 3:12 PM    Report this comment

I would tend to agree with Ron's comment. I can't see where the FAA would make this big of a leap.
It would seem more likely that they would be looking at 1630 lbs instead of 3600. But if true, great!
Even still 1630 would bring in several more aircraft. C-120,140,150 etc...

Posted by: Greg Walker | October 9, 2018 11:18 AM    Report this comment

I'm hoping this means expansion of ATSM standards to 4 seaters. It's silly that you can buy a 2-seat factory built Sling 2, but not a factory built 4-seat Sling 4 TSi. If you want a 4, it means building it yourself over a few years or using a far more expensive two-week-to-taxi and still have to live with limitations of flying an experimental. There would likely be dozens of new cheaper, faster, and more efficient 4 seaters if this is the case. Ultimately, that means more affordable flying and hopefully more people learning to fly.

Posted by: Lin Phillips | October 9, 2018 11:46 AM    Report this comment

I think one of the biggest barriers to expanding the pilot population, is the EXPENSE.
Raising the weight limit of a LSA would be nice, but how much would it grow the Pilot population?
Lower the annual ownership cost?..that would help alot I believe.
Now, we cant do anything about the price of Avgas,
The industry is pretty competitive on the price of a kitplane, and those companies have to make a profit to survive..since I dont see many kitplane companies getting rich selling kits, nothing to do there.
Hanger rent is dictated by demand at the airport..cant change that.
I for one really grit my teeth when I have to pay for a conditional inspection on my E-AB craft (RV9A) From 1700 to 2400.00 is the rate around here..geez..thats can be 200 bucks a month added to the price of hanger rent and avgas. Allowing a second owner the chance to obtain a inspection authority would be the single thing that would effect the cost of ownership. Already we can do our own maintenance, which helps alot, But the cost of the yearly maintenance never equals that huge bill that comes with a conditional inspection. IF an E-AB owner could do his own conditionals, annual cost would go down drastically for someone interested in becoming a Experimental aircraft owner. I also submit, that lowering the annual ownership cost would go a long way towards an E-AB builder being able to sell an E-AB for at least what it cost to build it, which has been for a long time generally NOT the case.

Posted by: Donald Gherardini | October 9, 2018 8:11 PM    Report this comment

And here I thought that the exact limit in weight of 1320 lbs. was to eliminate all the two-place trainer-type aircraft like the Tomahawk, the Cessna 150 and others as competition to spur the building of new and now much, much more expensive and pretty much untested aircraft. How naive of me.

Posted by: Neil Brodin | October 11, 2018 2:17 PM    Report this comment

Let's make it simple...2000 lbs. max....125 hp...two place...and make it soon.

Posted by: Robert Bissiri | November 12, 2018 6:27 PM    Report this comment

How about 2000 lbs. max...125 hp. max....two place max...and soon.
Bob Bissiri

Posted by: Robert Bissiri | November 12, 2018 6:32 PM    Report this comment

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