Citing the FAA’s paperwork backlog and its lack of available inspectors, the Experimental Aircraft Association has filed for an exemption to the Jan. 31, 2008, deadline for the conversion of two-place or “fat” ultralights to certification under the Experimental-Light Sport Aircraft category.
In its request, the EAA asks that owners who already have submitted their aircraft registration applications to the FAA Aircraft Registration Branch be allowed to complete the process, including the issuance of airworthiness certificates, beyond the deadline.
The backlog was created, in part, because there are not enough FAA inspectors and designated airworthiness representatives (DARs) to perform inspections before the January deadline.
“We felt an exemption request was the right thing to do for our members,” said Earl Lawrence, EAA’s vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. “The last thing we want to see happen is they end up with an expensive ‘lawn ornament.’ More time will help solve the problem.”
The FAA has repeatedly stated that the deadline will not be extended.
As of Nov. 30, 2007, there were 4,273 E-LSA registered but not yet certificated, compared to 3,870 already-certificated aircraft.
“We’ve been closely monitoring the situation, especially during the second half of 2007 with the approaching January 2008 deadline,” said EAA’s Joe Norris, who is also a DAR. “We were hoping that the backlog would start to shrink as we got into the fall, but that has not been the case. An exemption would provide more time for FAA inspectors and DARs to deal with the volume.”
If approved, the exemption request not only would provide additional time for those already registered but awaiting inspection, but also would provide relief for those facing certification issues beyond their control, such as severe weather preventing DAR travel or a shortage of critical flight safety components from manufacturers.
The forms necessary for conversion, 8050-1 and 8050-88A, are available at local Flight Services District Offices. They also are included in EAA’s E-LSA Conversion Kit. The kit has everything needed to convert an ultralight to the new E-LSA category, including a 15-page, step-by-step conversion guide that walks its readers through the process, according to EAA officials.