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Ultralight Training Concerns Being Addressed

M Squared
M-Squared's Breese XL S-LSA

August 19, 2009 — When the sport pilot/light sport aircraft (SP/LSA) regulations were developed, it was envisioned that flight training for people who wanted to fly ultralight or ultralight-like aircraft would be conducted in aircraft certificated in the special light-sport (S-LSA) category.

As a bridge until sufficient S-LSA aircraft could be produced, the FAA allowed the use of transitioned two-place ultralight trainers certificated as experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) to be used for compensated flight training until January 31, 2010 [per FAR 91.319(e)]. The FAA envisioned this timeframe would allow time for aircraft manufacturers to produce ultralight-like S-LSA in sufficient quantity to satisfy the need for ultralight training aircraft.

Unfortunately, such aircraft are not readily available in the marketplace. Presently only three manufacturers have produced an ultralight-like S-LSA - CGS Aviation Hawk, Higher Class Aviation, and M-Squared. In addition, the economy and lack of available financing have reduced the market for such planes.

Currently 70 ultralight-like airplanes are listed on the EAA sport pilot flight instructor listing. Most, if not all, of these aircraft are E-LSA and may not to be used for compensated flight training after January 31, 2010.

Consequently, after that date there will not be an adequate number of ultralight-like aircraft available for compensated flight training. This will create a safety issue because people wanting to fly ultralights or ultralight-like aircraft will not be able to take flight training in ultralight-like aircraft.

To solve this problem, the FAA and EAA have discussed the issuance of a letter of deviation authorization (LODA) under 91.319(h). This action would allow the permanent use of E-LSA for training purposes with no timeline. It would improve safety due to increased available training vehicles and clear up confusion within the piloting community.

In addition, AeroSports Connection (ASC) has filed an exemption (FAA-2009-0344) requesting an extension of the current E-LSA trainer deadline until January 31, 2012.

The FAA has not identified a timeline for a final decision but is evaluating which method (an exemption versus the LODA process) would best address the need to offer continued ultralight training. In either case, it appears that E-LSA trainers will be allowed to be used for ultralight training following the upcoming January 31, 2010 deadline. No matter which remedy FAA chooses, owners will have to obtain a new airworthiness certificate and operating limitations.

Visit www.EAA.org for continuing updates on this story. 

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