Dan Johnson, president of the Light Airplane Manufacturers Association (LAMA), is optimistic about regulatory changes he believes are upcoming. “After five years, progress is finally encouraging,” he said during EAA AirVenture 2019.
Based on communications with the FAA, Johnson believes several LAMA initiatives are on the path to approval. Among them is the pending ruling on including gyroplanes in the light sport aircraft (LSA) category.
“Electric propulsion is also on track to be allowed. A quirk in the regulation has delayed that approval and continues to be an issue. But there has been progress.” Johnson also expressed optimism on hybrids. The quirk he mentioned is that the LSA regulation specified that it applied to gas-powered piston engines, meant to distinguish them from turbines. The rules were written long before electronic motors and hybrid systems were even a possibility.
New rules are also likely to include single-lever controls, previously thought to be too complicated for this class of aircraft. But new systems are simpler and more reliable. The benefits in takeoff performance alone are reason to allow single-lever controls in LSAs, said Johnson.
Expanded commercial use is also on tap for LSAs, he said. Currently, it is possible to perform towing and pilot training, but Johnson believes new regulations will include pipeline patrol, forestry, and aerial photography, among other commercial tasks.