Are Light-Sport Aircraft truly coming of age? I think so and, while I’m biased by my closeness to the industry, I have observed three noteworthy changes from summer to the recent AOPA Aviation Summit. Starting shortly before and at AirVenture, conversations with numerous established flight schools identified an impending purchase or two of LSAs to enter the training fleet. One of the largest flight training organizations, the University of North Dakota, recent hosted an LSA Fly-off.
Concurrently at AirVenture, representatives from groups like the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) met to lobby for what has been called Part-23 Light. A more recent meeting drew FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, who was said to have expressed support for a rule change in this direction. A successful change in certification methods will draw important lessons from the LSA experiment (my term) — for example, the surprising number of new models introduced in a few year’s time and a reasonable safety record that met expectations. Experience to be gained from the LSA rule thereby becomes important to makers of larger aircraft.
At the AOPA Summit last month, a meeting was hosted by GAMA to assist the industry with leadership. The gathering was attended by such leaders as Alan Klapmeier, a founder of Cirrus; Jack Pelton, the top man at Cessna; AOPA President Craig Fuller; new EAA President Rod Hightower; and GAMA leader Pete Bunce. Each of these men have expressed strong interest in the success of LSA. Five and a half years after the first fully-built LSA took to the air, the new sector appears to be winning its wings among the veterans of aviation.
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