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I've been a Sport Pilot happily flying my CH601XL for the past couple of years and decided recently to petition the FAA to enhance the sport pilot program. Basically, I created and filed a petition at regulations.org to ask the FAA to enhance the light sport program with the following changes. I'd like to ask everyone what they think, and if you have a moment, if you would visit regulations.org and search for the petition by entering the docket number at FAA-2018-0846. Please consider commenting there with any of your thoughts or suggestions. Here are some of the changes I petitioned for, and I've attached a copy of the petition if you want to see it before heading over to regulations.org
Summary of my suggested enhancements.
Enhanced Light Sport Aircraft
1. Maximum takeoff weight increased to 3,000 pounds
2. Maximum occupants increased to 4 people – 1 pilot and 3 passengers
3. Maximum level airspeed of 160 knots using CAS, maximum power, sea-level, standard day, 4. Maximum stall (Vs1) speed of 55 knots
Enhanced Sport Pilot Certificate
1. Maximum altitude increased to 14,000 feet MSL
2. Night flight permitted with training and endorsement and other limitations
Enhanced Repairmen’s Inspection Certificate
Allows second-hand buyers who are both the owner and operator of experimental amateur built LSA’s to perform the annual condition inspection on their aircraft after obtaining a Repairmen’s Certificate with Inspection Rating by taking an FAA approved course(s) for the make and model of aircraft and engine that they own and operate.
As to spreading the word, I also reached out to Dan Johnson of bydanjohnson.com and Jack Pelton of the EAA. Tomorrow, I was going to reach out to Mark Baker of the AOPA. I was also going to post a notice on some of the aviation related Facebook accounts. Please feel free to spread the word to any forums you belong to. I think enhancing the Sport Pilot program with the driver's license medical is a fantastic win for general aviation.
Great point on letting people know to keep things civil. Us pilots are an emotional bunch. ;) Thanks!
Sorry about that: the correct web site is regulations.gov. Thanks for pointing that out.
I also emailed a copy of my petition to Jack Pelton, head of the EAA and he got back to me. He indicated that the FAA intends to release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in January 2018 to increase the weight to 3600 pounds, 4 seats, and 150 mph. I would still go ahead and comment on my petition (it doesn't hurt). Either way, I intend on adding the elements of my petition to the FAA's Notice in January arguing for a higher speed than 150 mph, night endorsement, and allowing self inspection.
I, too, had a lot of trouble, initially, finding and A&P mechanic to perform the annual condition inspection. I finally found a great A&P, and through another pilot found another A&P mechanic that works on experimentals. I still think allowing second hand owner the ability to perform their annual inspection with additional training, and as you suggest, another visit from the DAR, is critical with all of the second hand experimentals entering the market. In fact, the additional training that comes with the repairmen's certificate can, in my view, only enhance safety.
Even with the right to perform my own inspection, I still like the idea of having a second set of eyes look over my plane, so I would probably still have my A&P at least do a thorough check of my work.
Here are links describing in brief terms the EAA initiative on Modernizing Homebuilt Certification. Details are not yet available. But the FAA is closely engaged with the EAA.
This seems extremely well thought through, and hats off to you for the initiative – taken together with other similar sounding initiatives recently surfacing, I’m hopeful there is enough inertia for some mods to the existing LSA – which isn’t bad of itself, but never seemed to produce the accessible interest in aviation hoped for – rather e discrete niche for those with a unique, particular interest. And given the rather depressed interest in aviation (and thus a supply of pilots at all levels) that even the gov’t is concerned about, it seems a no-brainer to make legal the very trainers (C150/152, Cherokee 140/150) many of us have long since demonstrated competency in, as well as the light 4-seaters that used to be the mainstay on the ramps of many satellite airports… LSA as currently configured generally works for me, but at my gentrified age I tend to think in terms of recreational single-seaters rather than flying taxis; however, 160kts above 10,000 – goodness, who can argue with that.
Thanks Lawrence! Apparently a lot is happening behind the scenes in the FAA. According to Jack Pelton of the EAA via email correspondence, the LSA program is getting a makeover early next year, so I’m hopeful too.
I agree with a lot of what you say.