Top Letters And Comments, October 12, 2018


Possible LSA Weight Limit Increase

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.

Robert Gatlin-Martin

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

Ron Dillard

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.

Mark Chopper

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.

Lin Phillips

In my opinion, this is a step in the right direction but for me, and many like me, it’s too little too late. As a 1,500-hour GA pilot that flew to hundreds of airports throughout the west and southwest, I got out a couple years ago. The cost to maintain a 40+ year old plane and the lack of decently priced certified upgrade options, coupled with poor local FBO service caused my demise in this hobby that I loved. I have seen many airports close throughout the southwest with no replacements. See abandoned little known airports. I have seen the remaining small airports, become large and loosing there GA friendly attitude. My local FBO would not allow me to wash my airplane! At this point I do not believe the FAA or the US government supports GA. In my opinion, they are slowing killing off GA, Keeping it alive just enough to train ATP. Just the opinion of a former aircraft owner.

Ovide Morin

EAA President Jack Pelton said at the Carbondale AOPA Fly-in that the there is a NPRM scheduled to come out for public comment on January 19th, 2019. That indicates to me more than just the weight has been finalized. For a NPRM to be issued means more than just a public discussion over vague terms. MOSIAC is one thing. A NPRM is entirely another. I find it hard to understand such a strong, clear statement made by the EAA President followed by this waffling, press-speak explanation of what Jack meant by the VP for Advocacy and Safety. You would think they work for the same organization. Now I wonder.

Jim Holdeman

I am a bit puzzled by the apparent contradiction in messaging from Jack Pelton and Sean Elliott. I don’t really know Sean, but I have always considered Jack to be a rather level-headed, carefully-spoken guy, both during his current term as EAA CEO, as well as during my time as an engineering peasant under (WAY bottom-of-the-pyramid UNDER) Jack’s leadership at Brand-C in Wichita several years ago. So I can’t help but wonder if Jack is setting the proverbial anchor (reference point) to start the real negotiations with the FAA. Those of us who have dealt with the FAA in our careers know that what one or more of the agency’s representatives will agree to verbally will often differ greatly when it comes to putting that agreement in writing (human nature, I suppose). I do wonder (and this is PURE speculation mind you)if there was a verbal agreement in principal with the FAA for an NPRM in early 2019 to propose a new 3600 lb. weight limit. So then Jack decided to make that verbal agreement the negotiating anchor (reference) point for the commencement of open (public) discussions with the Feds. And by making his announcement over the weekend, Jack has made sure that everyone knows where that anchor point is planted. A hard ball tactic, I suppose, and the FAA might even utter, “dirty pool.” However, with hardball, the FAA might eventually say something like, “Jack, we can’t give you 6 Seats and 3600 pounds – it wouldn’t be prudent. But we can give you, say…. 4 Seats and….what’s MTOW for a C172P – 2400 lb?…. and 2300 lb (just to be annoying).” Without hardball the new limits might end up being 2 Seats and….what’s MTOW for a C150A – 1500 lb?……1450 lb (just to be annoying). Like I said, PURE SPECULATION.

John Nevils

Lots of detail missing. Will the same 45 kt clean stall speed apply? If it does we’re going to continue to have huge wings relative to weight which makes for poor cross-wind capabilities, ‘twitchiness’ and questionable stability. What about LSA’s minimum useful load? The formula is now metric but it loosely translates as (Number of Seats’ x 190 lbs) + Half the Horsepower in pounds. Limiting the speed to 150 mph (130 kts) is also limiting? Why should there be a speed limit? If there is going to be one, lets make it something useful like 200 kts. That should last a few decades. Incrementally moving the needle once a decade isn’t going to enhance GA. That’s just the aircraft side of it.

Serena Ryan

I, too, will believe it when I see it. If it takes another five years to come to fruition and takes a left turn at the ‘pass’ before codification like the FAR 23 rewrite did, it’ll also be too little, too late for many … just like light sport. And let’s not forget that there’ll be an additional time period for manufacturers to ramp up production of any such conforming machines. So … “guarded optimism” … you bet. We were all hopeful that when the ink dried on the ARC FAR Part 23 re-write recommendations (a five + year effort) that it would allow relicensing of low end existing GA airplanes into the new proposed P-NC category. It made absolutely perfect sense on several fronts. And what did we get? Nothing even close. An occasional non-TSO COTS based STC and “performance based” standards and an easy NORSEE shoulder harness install does not reinvigorate aviation on a scale large enough to make a difference. So this latest titillating and significant — albeit fuzzy — proposal drifting by in the form of manna from heaven — I mean Oshkosh — better get it right … and pronto … or the party is over save for the fat lady to sing. We all know how the driver’s license medical went; Sen. Inhofe had to direct it to happen in the form of BasicMed. For a lot of us who own airplanes that fit into this latest greatest ‘idea,’ it does have the potential to be a game changer if done right. Paul is right … there are two parts to light sport. If all this does is allow new heavier S-LSA’s which wind up costing $250K+ … it ain’t gonna work. If it doesn’t allow maintaining an existing C172 like an S-LSA or E-AB, it ain’t gonna work. And even there I see problems if manufacturers are given free reign. Manufacturers can’t possibly build enough new airplanes fast enough at a price which would replace the existing fleet of low end GA machines so it HAS to somehow include those airplanes as usable first step. And, in like manner, it HAS to find a way to keep existing pilots ‘in the game’ while we find ways to entice our replacements to step into the FBO. Leo and I don’t have a decade to wait and neither does GA so … get to crackin’ FAA. TRY HARDER! We’re running out of pilots. We’re running out of mechanics. DO something besides having a one day love fest filled with SES types regurgitating the problems and then retiring to their walnut paneled kingdoms. FIX IT. I want to go to Airventure 2019 and see a real $250K Flight Design C4 parked at the front gate and available for sale to anyone who drove a car to the blue lot in my lifetime. We don’t need no more stinkin’ FlyCatchers. One can only hope.

Larry Stencel

Pilots Not Properly Rated in Fatal Falcon 50 Crash

When pilots take lease or rental possession of ANY aircraft, doesn’t someone who lets it go look at pilot credentials or qualifications first, to see if they are even qualified to fly that particular airplane? I would assume so. Someone at the dispatch or flight release level dropped the ball here. Anticipate a cascading effect in the aftermath not only in the aircraft insurance, leasing and rental business, but in how airplanes are chartered, leased and rented to pilots of any class of licensure. It sounds like a real legal mess is coming……

David Freed

In pt135 operations it is called “operational control”, ops spec A08. This rule came about after the Challenger accident in Teterboro when that plane overran the runway on an aborted takeoff attempt due to out of CG condition (unable to rotate, nose heavy). But like any other rule the FAA passes it only affects those who actually follow it, not those who choose to ignore the regs. Like many other regulations this depends on trusting pilots and operators to follow them. Short of putting an armed guard at every airplane door, there is not much that can be done to prevent those who ignore the rules prior to doing something stupid (just like this accident). Unfortunately the unwitting public gets caught in the middle, sometimes getting hurt or killed.

Matthew Wagner

I find this particularly disturbing. An ATP with 11,650 hours, flying a plane that he was not type rated for, accompanied by a pilot who technically was totally unqualified to operate said plane. Particularly in light of an article written here last week addressing this very issue. I imagine that sorting out the insurance issues will be quite messy.

Richard Katz

Unfortunately, these high profile accidents with obvious regulatory violations are the things that prompt the FAA and Congress to “do something”. It conveys the message that pilots cannot be trusted to act responsibly, so they must come up with even more draconian regulations to “protect” the flying public from all of us. Case in point: The Colgan Air crash that brought about the nonsensical 1,500 hour rule. At least these two latest accidents did not involve commercial operations and paying passengers. Still tragic all around.

John McNamee

Sumwalt ‘Optimistic’ NOTAMs Will Improve

I agree that the NOTAM system needs a major rethink. As the article notes, sometimes the sheer (large) number of NOTAMs means that important Notices might be missed. (How about that UMA or GPS-outage list?) And then there’s the problem where you divert to an unplanned airport and suddenly have to get, and digest, NOTAMs in an emergency situation. It’s gotten to the point where I consider our Glasair a two pilot plane in IFR or challenging XC’s. I don’t know what the final solution is. In the meantime, iFly EFB does do some rudimentary sorting, listing Notices under headings like Communication NOTAMs, Runway NOTAMs, Taxiway, etc. (In addition to a raw dump.)

Mike P.

I use AOPA weather and flight planning. I often just check the weather for local flights. I would like an icon for NOTAMS. I use FlyQ on my iPad. I can get NOTAMS for any local airport at a touch of a button. Years ago, in the Navy, I had to go to operations to see weather or NOTAMS. It is a lot easier now. I teach my students to check NOTAMS even if they were at the airport yesterday.

John Pettit

FAA Reauthorization

If you EVER wanted to know why things in aviation — or, for that matter … in politics — take SO long and are SO complicated, HR 302 should serve as a model exercise in learning. This thing is 462 pages long (sic). I don’t know who writes this stuff and how all the tenets of it sneaks in but … the only thing missing is how to clean your BBQ grill after a tailgating party at your hangar on an airport which receives AIP funding after you did a VFR flight in Class B airspace. Incredible!! Down with a cold on a rainy day, I read the whole thing quickly today. I call everyone’s attention to Title V starting on Page 165. There are too many Sections to address those that might be of interest to those of us here but … if you take the time, you’ll see that there ARE some good things in it. I’ll touch on a couple. They’re talking about changing the period of registration for GA aircraft from three years to seven. There’s going to be a review of Part 91. The FAA is being directed to supply ATC services for large aviation events at no cost. The ADS-B mandate has several sections devoted to it. Regulatory reform is addressed. And so on. Read Title V starting with section 500. Acceptable hangar usage for airports which receive AIP funding is further defined to include building of recreational airplanes is there, too. There’s a lot in this Bill. Assuming the President signs it … there’s a lot of changes coming.

Larry Stencel

There may be a lot of good things in this bill but one item that should not have been included is repealing the model airplane exemption to the registration and license scheme the FAA wanted. With all the “security” paranoia going on it is a real shame an activity that has never bothered anyone in the past is now subject to rules it neither needs or asked for. Considering how tight FAA resources are I am wondering where the FAA is going to get the funding and personnel to regulate and enforce these silly rules without taking more resources away from other much more important areas. It should make interesting publicity when the FAA fines some poor 12-year-old for violations of these new “rules” flying his/her model airplane. Another fine example of the government and regulators run amuck!!!

Matthew Wagner