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EAA, FAA Work to Expand Experimental, LSA Aircraft Type Designators

Memberís suggestion gets ball rolling

March 11, 2010Those of you who have experience filling out a flight plan know that you’re required to enter an aircraft type designator in block 3. For many years experimental aircraft owners were required to enter one of the standard experimental type designators in that block: HXA (airspeed less than 100 kts); HXB (airspeed between 100 and 200 kts); or HXC (airspeed greater than 200 kts). Now, thanks to an EAA member’s urging, several experimental and light-sport aircraft have received type designators to identify their specific make and model to air traffic controllers, with the goal of having designators for all aircraft types.

In June 2008, Chuck Hill, EAA 828532, contacted EAA suggesting that the FAA type designator process be improved, and since that time, EAA has been working in partnership with the FAA Air Traffic Organization (ATO) to implement that improvement.

Assigning type designators to new amateur-built and light-sport aircraft models is on-going, says Richard Jehlen, director, planning & procedures for ATO system operations services. “It is particularly rewarding when the partnership on a topic is enjoyable, responds directly to an operational limitation being experienced daily, and improves the overall Air Traffic Management (ATM) system performance from both the operator and service provider perspectives,” he remarked.

The FAA ATO is in the process of updating its entire list of aircraft type designators using the Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft as their base tool, Jehlen added. The project is expected to be completed later this year, after which updates or additions to the aircraft Contractions list will occur more frequently.

Another project component is a study to determine if the use of standard experimental aircraft type designators, HXA, HXB, and HXC, can be discontinued in favor of using a standard designator of “ZZZZ” for all experimental aircraft that do not yet have a FAA assigned type designator.

“Working in partnership with the FAA ATO on this project has been a very enjoyable experience,” said Randy Hansen, government relations director. “While the coordinating process to complete this project has taken a long time, the end result will reduce the complexity of the flight planning process, while increasing pilots’ enjoyment of flying their personal aircraft.”

To find the FAA-assigned type designator for your aircraft, use Chapter 5, section 1 or 2 of FAA Order 7340.2, Contractions. If your aircraft is listed, start using that type designator in block 3 on your flight plan.

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