They say timing is everything, and just in time for the first large airshow and general aviation aircraft fly-in of 2014 the FAA released 8130.2 (h), a draft policy that it sent to FAA field offices to help those who interact directly with general aviation to interpret 14 CFR regulations.
“The problem with 8130.2 (h), a 322-page document, is actually in three lines, in the appendix,” said Dan Johnson, president and CEO of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA). “I have it on good authority that these issues might, just might, be an editing issue,” he said. But in the meantime, the three lines are chilling for light sport aircraft operators, and anyone interested in flying electric-powered aircraft. The draft policy directive tells DARs, FSDOs and the like that ELSAs that have been converted from SLSA status shall not be flown IFR or over congested areas, or with passengers. Furthermore, the directive tells FAA personnel to restrict electric-powered aircraft to all that plus operations only in a specified geographic area.
“There are no safety of flight reason that we know of that would cause the FAA to put in these restrictions,” said Johnson. “I don’t feel that the alphabet organizations cooperated as they could have to prevent this from seeing the light of day, but, now that this policy guidance is out there, we are working to get it clarified so that it makes sense.”
He announced at Sun ’n’ Fun 2014 that LAMA, along with the U.S. Ultralight Association, Aircraft Kit Industry Association, Seaplane Pilots Association, NAFI, ASTM International, AOPA, and EAA are meeting Wednesday, April 2, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the FAA Building on the Lakeland Linder Airport to discuss this and other safety matters for light general aviation aircraft.
“One of the subjects the FAA has asked our input on is commercial use of light-sport aircraft,” said Johnson. “But that will require regulatory change…for powerline survey, border control, glider towing or agricultural use. We were asked to survey and see what is the worldwide commercial use of these aircraft,” he continued. “We’ve discovered that outside the U.S. there is a lot of commercial use of LSA aircraft.”
Additionally on the agenda for LAMA at Sun ’n’ Fun 2014 are discussing changes to the definition of LSAs to include more than reciprocating engines and gyroplanes, as well as training issues resulting from the current restrictions on commercial use. Gaps in the regulations concerning LSA maintenance are also scheduled for discussion.
Johnson invited all to rediscover Paradise City during the show, where LSA operations will be only minimally impacted during the airshows this year, and where LSAs are displayed auto-mall style side-by-side for best comparison of features.