“I’m of mixed feelings over this,” express many LSA industry participants who have caused my phone to ring regularly since late September. That’s when EAA and AOPA came together to address requests from some members for a driver’s license “medical,” which would allow aviators with certificates beyond Sport Pilot to fly GA aircraft with clearly defined limitations without the need for an FAA medical.
In the weeks that followed the announcement, numerous LSA professionals expressed dismay with the initiative. A dozen cancelled sales have been reported and that is not likely to represent the whole picture. A common complaint is the LSA industry was unaware of the plan until just before the announcement was made at the AOPA Aviation Summit in September. In fact, no discussion occurred between the member organizations and the LSA industry.
Work to formulate a written proposal to FAA is underway; a date for presentation to the agency has not been announced.
Many LSA business people appear concerned that the initiative challenges head-on the most compelling sales tool for LSA sellers, specifically, the lack of requirement for an FAA medical. While LSAs have many other positive qualities that aid sales — lower prices, lower fuel use, less noise, roomier cockpits, modern technology, etc. — losing the #1 selling reason has caused considerable angst among those who have invested years of their time and substantial amounts of money to build the LSA industry.
While many are conflicted, others are just confused. One intriguing question that just arose regards a new Sport Pilot who may wish to fly a four-seat GA aircraft (with no more than two persons on board, among other limitations). Does the Sport Pilot presently in training have to get a medical (part of the private pilot application process) to be able to solo a Cessna 172 or equivalent? Also, the private certificate demands night and instrument training even though neither kind of flying can be done under the EAA/AOPA proposed initiative. Must a Sport Pilot pay for training to acquire those skills even though they cannot use them (without a medical)?
These questions and more might be asked of EAA president Rod Hightower, who will speak to LSA professionals at the Fifth Annual LAMA Dinner at the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo (the LAMA Dinner is not open to the public, only to people in the LSA business).
For more Sport Pilot and LSAs: ByDanJohnson.com