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Volume 25, Number 41a
October 8, 2018
 
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LSA Weight Limit Increasing To 3600 Pounds (Updated)
 
Russ Niles
 
 

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.

LSA Weight Increase: Pop the Champagne Cork?
 
Paul Bertorelli
 

Is the FAA about to go all-in and all but remove the weight restriction on light sport aircraft? Here, key the ecclesiastical music, insert the visual of the clouds parting and Jack Pelton descending the mount with the stone tablets, or at least a USB drive announcing something intriguing.

But let’s tap the brakes and see what develops. We heard over the weekend that a proposal is coming from the FAA to raise the light sport weight limit to 3600 pounds. For a benchmark, that’s what a Cirrus SR22 weighs and also a Piper Saratoga. Yeah! Riding to the pancake breakfast in style at last.

In a moment of giddy enthusiasm, I’m mixing apples and oranges here. The light sport airplane rule and sport pilot privileges aren’t the same thing. But for argument’s sake, let’s say this proposal—and we have absolutely no confirmed detail on it yet—mashes together the airplane rule, the light sport pilot rule and BasicMed. Pour that out of the blender and you get 3600-pound single-engine piston airplanes that a pilot could fly with up to six occupants, with driver's license certification.

You could operate VFR or IFR within the U.S. at altitudes below 18,000 feet and not exceeding 250 knots. If this rule actually does that—and I’m speculating here just to entertain myself on a slow Sunday night—this could be, well, yyuuuuge. Or at least moderately stimulative, as BasicMed appears to have been. (Hard numbers are elusive.)

This idea is not a new one, by the way. It was circulating about four years ago as a kind of background proposal. Same 3600-pound gross weight, but the idea was that it would allow manufacturers to use ASTM consensus standards—same as LSA—to design, build and certify new models, rather than the more restrictive FAR Part 23, which requires extensive test programs. You don’t need to be a bean counter to understand how this would reduce the cost of bringing new airplanes into the market, although how much is impossible to say.

It could very well encourage new entrants who otherwise might take a powder because of low volume and daunting certification costs. Regardless of the real cost reduction, it would undeniably be a positive thing for general aviation, even if it reduces new model sticker prices by just a third. I wouldn’t expect too much more than that based on where Icon finally settled out with its prices: almost the equal of a new Cessna 172.

There’s a possible dark side, too. And you know what it is. The existing light sport industry could be impacted on several fronts. One, legacy airplanes would suddenly gain more utility and more value, making not-that-cheap LSAs somewhat less attractive. And if new ones aren’t selling, used ones won’t be as attractive, either. We’ve been expecting the light sport market to shake out significantly, but it hasn’t yet. Grandfathering more older airplanes into no-medical-required eligibility seems certain to have an erosive effect.

But what many people miss about this equation is that even though light sports are expensive, they’re still the cheapest new airplanes. By a lot. A new Flight Design CTLS retails for about $180,000, less than half the price of new Skyhawk. The CTLS is faster and burns less gas. Yeah, it carries only two people, but then abundant data show that most GA trips carry one or two people, not four. Still, lots of buyers like to carry around seats they never use.

But that’s a bad example. The better one is Vashon’s new Ranger, which I reviewed here. Nice airplane and one poised for the kind of efficient, automated production you don’t see in general aviation. But the Ranger is heavy and lacks enough useful load. I’m not thrilled with the O-200 engine, either. A higher weight limit could transform the airplane and if it were me, I’d slap an IO-240 into the airframe or maybe even a Rotax 915, which would make it a real hot rod and something more interesting than it already is.

We’re told that this proposal may surface sometime next year as an actual NPRM. Twixt cup and lip and all that. But even if nothing ever comes of it but this delusional blog, that’s something, right?

Restoring a World War I DH-4
 
Baxter Van West
 
 

When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, it had no suitable combat aircraft so the British-designed DH-4 was adopted and manufactured in volume in the U.S. Because the 400-HP Liberty engine was used, the American-made DH-4s were called Liberty Planes. Very few survive to this day, but in this AVweb video shot at AirVenture, we offer a detailed tour of the airplane and how it's being restored. 

Lycoming 'When can an engine give you 200 extra flying hours?'
Goulian Wins Indy Red Bull Race
 
Russ Niles
 
 

American Mike Goulian claimed his first-ever home soil victory in the Red Bull Air Race series with a convincing victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. Goulian’s time of 106.208 was more than a half second faster than runner-up Pete McLeod, of Canada, in the final race. France’s Nicolas Ivanoff was third. "Right now the season doesn't even mean anything – to win at Indy is amazing,” Goulian said. “Everybody wanted a fight to the finish for the World Championship, and that's what they're going to get.”

It’s been a good season for Goulian, who is sponsored by Cirrus, and Sunday’s win vaulted him to the top of the overall standings with 70 points. Czech Martin Sonka is five points behind him and Australian Matt Hall is third at 63 points. The stage is now set for a potential winner-take-all race at Fort Worth in a few weeks. Fellow American pilot Kirby Chambliss finished 10th at Indianapolis.

Toyota Patents Flying Car Design
 
Russ Niles
 
 

Toyota has filed for patent protection of an unusual flying car design that uses the same drive mechanism for road and the air. According to TransportUp, the “Dual Mode Vehicle With Wheel Rotors” uses the rotor hubs as wheels when the device is on the ground. The rotors fold into the wheel allowing the vehicle to roll freely. Steering and braking would be accomplished with differential power to the individual wheel rotors, which would be fixed in a single position on the ground.

In the air, the rotors swing up into the horizontal position on arms that end up above the passenger compartment. To transition between air and ground mode, the stationary vehicle rests on hard points on the fuselage while the machinery moves into place. Although this precise design may never see production, the huge carmaker’s evident interest in developing the technology is considered telling. Toyota calls the effort SkyDrive and hopes to use a flying car prototype to light the flame for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

 

First Privately Developed Chinese Aircraft Flies
 
Russ Niles
 
 

China’s first privately funded and developed aircraft had its first flight a couple of weeks ago but it’s not clear what the future holds. The Guanyi GA20 took a 26-minute hop around Nanchang Airport on Sept. 20. It’s a low-wing composite design and while it might be Chinese in most regards, it’s powered by a Lycoming 0-320. It is however the first aircraft to make it from the drawing board to the air without state sponsorship or funding. That was all done in-house by Shanghai Guanyi General Aviation.

There is other foreign content in the aircraft. Its chief designer is Jean-Paul Vaunois, a former senior designer at Airbus. The aircraft has a range of about 800 miles and 150-knot cruise on about eight gallons of fuel per hour. The factory in eastern China has built five of the aircraft and is also working on an autonomous cargo drone and a light twin.

Pilots Not Properly Rated In Fatal Falcon 50 Accident
 
Kate O'Connor
 
 

Neither pilot in the cockpit of a Falcon 50 that crashed in Greenville, South Carolina, last week was rated to fly the aircraft as pilot in command, according to the preliminary report issued by the NTSB on Thursday. The report states that the pilot in the left seat “held an ATP certificate with a type rating for the Falcon 50 with a limitation for second-in-command only.” He was type rated in the Learjet and Westwind and had 11,650 flight hours. The pilot in the right seat “held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multiengine land.”

Both pilots were killed and the two passengers onboard sustained serious injuries when the aircraft slid off of the runway and over a 50-foot embankment at Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) after landing. Airport security video obtained by the NTSB verified earlier eyewitness reports that the aircraft appeared to make a normal touchdown and confirmed that the thrust reverser and the airbrakes were deployed. The report (PDF) notes that there was an "INOP" placard next to the braking anti-skid switch. The aircraft was operated by Air American Flight Services Inc.

The NTSB’s investigation into the accident is ongoing. The Board’s final report, which will include its findings on the probable cause of the accident, is expected to be published in 12 to 18 months.

Take the Guesswork Out of Your Aviation-Related Purchases with 'Aviation Consumer' Magazine
Industry Round-up, October 5, 2018
 
AVweb Staff
 
 

AVweb’s weekly news roundup found reports of recently released drone strike research, the launch of a mobile avionics and maintenance service, an improved propeller blade measuring system, a new flight animation system, a free safety webinar and a discussion of international pilot medical standards. The University of Dayton Research Institute recently released its latest drone-strike test data, which replicated a midair collision at 238 miles per hour. The testing was conducted by firing a 2.1-pound DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter at the wing of a Mooney M20 aircraft.

New Jersey-based Metrix AV is launching a mobile avionics and maintenance service designed to help aircraft owners meet the upcoming FAA ADS-B mandate. Company personnel will travel to client locations to retrofit general aviation aircraft with the avionics and ADS-B instruments. In other maintenance news, Aeroscan announced that it has improved its Aeroscan M5 blade measurement system. The system, which uses laser sensor technology to measure propeller dimensions, is now fully automated and more accurate.

CEFA Aviation is introducing its Aviation Mobile Services (AMS), which can deliver tablet-viewable flight data feedback after landing. According to the company, CEFA AMS wirelessly collects flight data recorder information and provides animations of selected flight segments within 10 minutes of landing and will enhance situational and operational awareness for aircrews. Also regarding digital teaching tools, the Helicopter Online Ground School will be hosting a free safety webinar on Oct. 9. The webinar will discuss using the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) weather tool to assist with flights below 5,000 feet.

Finally, a group of British MPs and American Senators and Congressmen wrote a letter to the CAA, FAA and EASA asking for a new bilateral agreement on medical standards for private pilots. As it stands, pilots who fly in both countries must maintain separate medical certificates for each. The letter calls for equal recognition of medical certificates between the two countries.

JP Instruments 'Primary JPI EDM 930'
Picture of the Week, October 4, 2018
 
 
A small dog on Pilots N Paws (PNP) trip, somewhere over Georgia. Copyrighted photo by James Kleen.

See all submissions

Top Letters And Comments, October 5, 2018
 
 

FAA Approves Ultralight VTOL

First of all, the FAA does NOT "approve" ultralight vehicles. The letter shown only states that in the FAA's opinion, the craft appears to meet part 103 requirements. It either meets part 103 or it doesn't. If it does, then the FAA is out of the picture.

Mel Asberry

Motorcycle gear is completely useless when falling from 10 stories (or falling just one foot into the whirling blades of a Cuisinart blender). This thing will have such a high death to miles traveled ratio that no one will be able to afford the insurance.

Mark Fraser

Is Pilot Training Keeping Up With The Pilot Shortage?

With all the talk of the alleged "pilot shortage" I still don't see the various airlines and charter outfits putting up their own money to train an individual how to fly an airplane. Sure you have your signing bonuses, your promise of an interview, and other partnership with university deals. But what I still see are training agreements, conditions for those bonuses, and still many ATP rated pilots who were either furloughed or left the industry for various reasons. There is even an airline that flies Caravans in Hawaii that is advertising a "pay to play" scheme for an SIC position. That is not much of a sign of a shortage. As far as a shortage of CFI's is concerned, most pilots who get a CFI do so as the first step in an aviation career. Most of those pilots move on to what they think is a better position or to something that pays a lot better. Until the industry raises the status of a flight instruction job above an entry level position in aviation, nothing will change there. And the ridiculous TSA rules don't help. Is there a "shortage" of qualified pilots willing to work for nothing? Absolutely! Is there a "shortage" of commercial or ATP rated pilots? Absolutely not. Even the Inspector General of the congress acknowledged that. As far as I am concerned the only "shortage" is money to pay pilots or CFI's what they should be. When I see airlines actually paying for, without requiring training agreements, training from student pilot to ATP, then I will believe there is a true pilot "shortage."

Matt Wagner

One of the greatest curses of pilots who might like to stay in the 'entry level' positions like instructing is newer pilots willing to work for little or no compensation - a great looking deal to the bean-counters in charge of many of those businesses. I loved instructing and my students. I would have stayed doing it long-term for the right conditions, and I don't mean ridiculously high conditions either. I voiced my desire to stay and instruct to the management at the large flight school I was flying for at the time. But aviation, like everything, has its peaks and troughs. When the trough came, management split the instructors up into categories that suited them, and laid off certain groups. I was unlucky enough to be in one of those groups - a group that had voluntarily agreed to fly fewer hours than most and teach in ground school, something that might suggest that we were more interested in the role than most - but that apparently didn't matter. It sure looks like we're in a peak period right now. A trough is sure to follow, sooner or later.

Cameron Garner

98% of the time, in any industry, "we can't find enough qualified people" really means "we aren't offering enough pay/benefits." Simple as that. Of course, that's bounded on the other end by what the customer is willing to pay. How many times has the high cost of flight training been cited as a barrier?

Robert Gatlin-Martin

Here is a problem. Young people don't know they can become pilots. The ones I have talked to somehow think the government assigns pilots and becoming a pilot is complicated and unattainable. Where did pilots come from 30 years ago? Grass roots aviation. Many pilots got their first taste of flying and developed a passion for flying in hang gliders and ultralights. Many trained with ultralight instructors. The LSA regulations caused the unintended consequences of stopping ultralight training and starving the pilot pipeline. The airlines should be encouraging grass roots aviation instead of killing it. I was at a grass roots fly-in this weekend and witnessed these factors first hand. Why grass roots flying? It's affordable when compared to GA. Airlines would be pulling the right demographic.

Dana Nickerson

I used to own a flight school, which makes me one of the "bean counters" mentioned above. Every single one of my instructor employees made more money than I did, and they weren't making much. (My "income" from the school was a negative value.) I would have loved to paid them more. They certainly deserved it, but the customers wouldn't stand for it. As it was, we were losing business to the schools on the field that charged less per hour. We tried to explain to prospects that our (better) training was cheaper overall because our average student hours at the end of the program was less than the other guy. The customers on average were spending more at our competitor start-to-finish, but most people couldn't see past the per-hour rate, and walked away from us. Offering a better product did not appeal to the marketplace.

David Bunin

For many, a passion is developed within a vocation that actually pays a decent wage. Offering, the "glory" of being a pilot, and the "star wars" portrayal of being a modern high tech aviation mechanic with out the pay that would be expected from such high levels of training required is ludicrous. When GA companies and airlines invest their time and money in paid pilot and aviation maintenance training, the "pilot/mechanic shortage" will improve, over time, for those respective aviation organizations. When flight/maintenance training becomes an equivalent to a professorship at a local community college and university level, teaching students to handle and/or maintain a 150 to a Boeing will be considered a career rather than a necessary "rites of passage" in the quest for a well-paying aviation career. How many have and presently are sacrificing his or her youth hoping to get paid enough in their golden years to make up for the inadequacies of the traditional climb to a decent paying aviation job? Like it has been well said before, there are a large number of trained pilots and mechanics doing work outside of aviation who said the traditional sacrifices are not worth it. Sad to see so many highly motivated people forced to work outside their passion. Can aviation as a whole get out from the peaks and the trough? Doing training the way we have traditionally done will give is what we have traditionally gotten. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is truly insanity.

Jim Holdeman

Would You Consider Becoming A Professional Pilot?

Same old story, slight variation. Wanted to be a pilot since I could walk, went to USAFA (class of 94), eyes got worse, budget cuts to pilot slots, resigned and became an engineer.

Got my CFI on my own, no real opportunities to fly so continued with engineering, including a stint working on Stratolaunch. No real path for someone like me to break into flying unless I want to go from engineering pay to 1/2 teacher wages.

Richard

There are not enough professional CFIs in the business. Every professional pilot has to have a CFI show them the way! I want to be home for every birthday, every teacher conference, every moment that I can for my kids and family. Being a professional CFI allows that and more, plus I get to work at an awesome university that will support me!

Shaun Shephard

I fall into a category that you didn't show in your survey.

In short, I tried to become a professional pilot. I am partially color blind, however, which disqualified me from the air-force and caused some significant hurdles to getting into the airline industry. In hind-sight, though, this is not a sad story as I am happy with how things worked out for me.

The point my experience points out is that as pilots age the FAA can still take their careers away at a moment’s notice.

Cory Carlson

Bad Decisions? What Would You Have Done?

First, remember that it is most always a sequence of events. Like a domino toppling event, you only need to stop one sequence sometimes. And remember what you DID do ...insist on maintaining altitude and keep the things you had left working for you. Working according to the rules from the start is my advise after 37+ years in professional aviation. Do not cut corners. Stick to procedures and do not take things for granted. There are very few scenarios you will have to "improvise" your way out of. But when these occur you're much better off from a position of strength having acted according to rules and procedures and wisdom until then... Review every flight...there is always something to learn.

Mauro Hernandez

There's a rule I think would have made a lot of sense here, that I follow when I'm flying with another pilot: The most scared pilot wins. A dip in Lake Michigan would have ruined everyone's day.

Jay Maynard

My practice has always been below 20 degrees or has been below 20, use preheat and a long thorough warmup after start. If the temps were down in the teens a few hours before you can bet the engine core is still in the teens. I keep a bottle of water in the hangar, if it's frozen I preheat because it's my engine and my money.

Richard Montague

Coagulated oil? Maybe. The symptoms also describe a frozen crankcase vent where water in the exhaust freezes in the vent tube allowing blow-by gases to pressurize the crankcase. That pressure is added to the oil pump pressure on the gauge reading. When the crankcase pressure gets high enough oil is expelled through the nose seal and shows up on the cowling. I see little to criticize, and much to commend, in your actions that day. The only thing I might do differently - and I'm NOT a multi-engine pilot - is to restart that engine over the airport and keep it at idle during the approach. That temporary thrust might come in handy!

Kim Hunter

Brainteasers Quiz #248: Love Is In The Air
 

Airline passengers may not feel the love that the carriers seem to be showing for just about anyone with a Commercial certificate, a pulse and, of course, the ability to ace this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

Short Final: Happy Birthday
 

I recently heard the following between Kansas City Center and an airliner. The airliner was trying to top some weather and had been granted an even altitude even though he was flying west, because he was too heavy to go any higher.

Kansas City Center: “Airliner 123, how long ’til you can go up? I have to sell this 'wrong way' to Denver.”

Airliner: “About 15 minutes.”

Slight pause, then:

Kansas City Center: “Well, what do you know? I told Denver you were the pride of the fleet and it’s your birthday, and he took it. Contact Denver Center on 133.9.”

Airliner: “How did you know?”

Don Stansberry
Huntsville, TN
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