The FAA is seeking comments on a rule change that will allow flight training in experimental light-sport aircraft (ELSA).
Comments about the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) must be submitted by Nov. 23, 2018.
Current regulations prohibited the use of ELSA for flight training for compensation after Jan. 31, 2010. Changing that rule “would increase safety by allowing greater access to aircraft that can be used for light-sport aircraft and ultralight training,” FAA officials said in the NPRM.
When the sport pilot and LSA rules went into effect in September 2004, the FAA created a new special airworthiness certificate — special light-sport aircraft (SLSA) — which included experimental LSAs up through 2010.
FAA officials believed that once the SLSA fleet grew, it would replace the need for training in experimental LSAs. However, that didn’t happen.
“The FAA estimated that 60 months would be an adequate amount of time for the new SLSA to enter service to replace the ELSA and meet flight training demands,” officials said in the background section of the NPRM.
FAA officials add they thought that five years would give owners of ELSA time to buy SLSA for flight instruction.
“In addition, the FAA believed the action would further expand the growth of the industry as a whole,” officials continued. “However, the anticipated arrival of the new SLSA has not materialized in the way that the FAA had projected in the final rule, especially for two-seat aircraft used for light sport and ultralight training.”
FAA officials note that at the end of 2017 there were 27,865 ELSA compared to 2,585 SLSA.
Increasing the number of aircraft available for training “may reduce the cost of training,” FAA officials added.
Recognizing the limited supply of aircraft for ultralight and LSA flight training led the FAA to propose the new rule changes.
“The use of ELSA as a training option for light-sport aircraft and ultralights provides an avenue for structured flight instruction from an FAA certificated flight instructor,” officials said in the NPRM. “While the FAA does not see a risk-based need to expand the training requirements for light sport aircraft or ultralights, it does not want to impede individuals who wish to take advantage of flight training that is relevant to the type of aircraft they operate. Additionally, the FAA would like to facilitate the availability of training aircraft for new light sport pilots or existing pilots who are transitioning to a low-mass/high-drag aircraft from conventional aircraft.”
To ensure these aircraft are used solely for flight training, the FAA will require a letter of deviation authority (LODA).
The 2004 Light Sport Final Rule created the LODA process to allow training for compensation or hire using certain categories of experimental aircraft. However, this rule set a Jan. 31, 2010, time limit on the use of a LODA for ELSA.
If the rule change is adopted, it would remove that Jan. 31, 2010, date, which would then allow owners and flight training providers to apply for a training LODA.
“The FAA would issue a LODA on the basis of the eligibility of the aircraft and its maintenance requirements, the applicant, the instructor, and the type of training desired,” FAA officials explained. “LODA holders would be required to own or lease the aircraft and would be ultimately responsible for ensuring that the aircraft, training, maintenance and instructors meet the requirements specified by the LODA.”
Want To Comment on the Proposed Rule?
Send your comments before Nov. 23, 2018. Be sure to identify the docket number FAA-2018-0926 using any of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to Regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
- Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, D.C., 20590-0001.
- Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, D.C., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.
- Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.