FAA Revision to Sport Pilot Rule Mostly Favorable

The FAA’s long-awaited revisions to the five year-old Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft Rule were published Monday, February 1, in the Federal Register. With the changes sport pilots will be allowed to fly higher and safer in mountainous regions, find it easier to gain towered airport experience in a powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft, and S-LSAs can be used at Part 141 flight schools which will likely reduce training costs for all student pilots. Additionally, a key change to the aircraft maintenance rules will allow E-LSA owners whose aircraft were originally certified as an S-LSA to perform their own maintenance.

EAA and NAFI jointly submitted comments to the FAA’s 22 proposed changes and after reviewing more than 150 public comments the FAA withdrew eight proposals and agreed fully or in part with EAA/NAFI recommendations on 10 others.

“The revisions to the rule will affect everyone differently. For most there will be very little change. But certain groups like E-LSA owners whose aircraft used to be certificated under S-LSA provisions should be excited since they will now be able to maintain and sign-off maintenance on their own aircraft.” said Earl Lawrence, EAA’s vice-president of Industry and Regulatory Affairs. “Obviously there were disagreements with the FAA’s in other areas, and EAA will continue to fight for changes in the future such as the rules on ultralight aeronautical experience,” Lawrence added.

EAA and NAFI’s three primary focus points during their review of the proposals were to maintain the original intent of the rule; ensure continued growth of the technology for the pilots, instructors, and repairmen; and ensure the continued lowering of economic and regulatory barriers for participants. The revisions are set to go into effect on April 2, 2010.

EAA’s comprehensive reaction to each of the rule changes can be read here. Look for EAA’s in-depth analysis of the FAA’s issued revisions in this week’s e-Hotline.

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