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FAA Announces "Fixes" to Sport Pilot Regulations at Sun 'n Fun

April 11 2008 — At the "Meet the FAA" session today at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In, the FAA revealed long-awaited changes to the sport pilot/light-sport aircraft regulations that-although in draft form-garnered cautious praise from EAA.

Kim Smith, manager of the FAA's Small Airplane Directorate, announced that a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) would be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, April 15, containing more than 22 revisions over two years in the making. EAA's initial evaluation of the draft NPRM shows that the FAA has incorporated most of the revisions advocated by EAA and its members, including:

  • Replacing the 10,000-foot MSL limit for sport pilots with "10,000 MSL or 2,000 above ground level (AGL), whichever is higher."
  • Removal of the requirement for aircraft certificated as experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) to comply with the Part 43 maintenance regulations. This means E-LSA can now be maintained like other experimental aircraft.
  • Allowing powered parachute and weight-shift trike private pilots to conduct production tests flights for hire.

The largest change: Complete removal of the current Sport Pilot Instructor section, which had been separate from other Certificated Flight Instructors (CFI) in the regulations. Under the draft proposal to be published next week, Sport Pilot Instructor will be on regulatory par with all other ratings available under the previous (Subpart H) flight instructor regulations.

EAA is in the process of evaluating all the implications of this change.

"We're pleased that this update has been released," EAA President Tom Poberezny said in Lakeland where he is coordinating EAA's presence at Sun 'n Fun. "It is not unusual for large rulemaking packages such as the sport pilot/light-sport aircraft regulations to have revisions to deal with unforeseen issues. Our initial review indicates that the FAA has incorporated EAA's suggested revisions and more."

EAA government relations staff will continue its review of the proposed revisions and will share its complete analysis with members.

At the session, FAA also announced that previously evaluated and approved amateur-built aircraft kits would be "grandfathered" and not subject to re-evaluation. (See story)

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