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Grandfathered Trainers Are Golden

By Dan Grunloh, Editor - Light Plane World

Dan Grunloh

The new FAA guidance for issuing a Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) for flight instruction has changed the picture for some experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) that were previously used for training but had to stop almost a year and half ago after the end of the transition period. There are also new provisions for training in experimental gyroplanes and for ultralight-only training in experimental aircraft flying under 87 knots.

In many parts of the country, there will be little change, but in others a few furloughed exempted trainers will become “golden” because of their unique status and capabilities.  Under the new LODA, those grandfathered E-LSA can again be used for primary flight training for hire to earn a sport pilot certificate, not simply for transition training as was proposed earlier. The new guidance directs that a Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) can issue a LODA only when there is no appropriate instruction available in its geographical area for any aircraft other than experimental. For gyroplanes, that is everywhere since there are no special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) gyroplanes. For weight shift trikes and powered parachutes, there are numerous states without a single S-LSA trainer. Unfortunately the new LODAs are limited to E-LSA aircraft and instructors who were conducting training during the transition period, so the number is small.

The two-place ultralights that transitioned to E-LSA trainers including Quicksilvers, Flightstars, Kolbs, Challengers, and others are now very precious since they’re almost the only source of appropriate compensated training in the under 87 knots category, and we can’t make any new ones. We need to urge those instructors and owners to get back into the training business and apply for the LODA. This is a test of our community. If there are few applicants, the FAA will conclude that there is little demand for this type of training.

It makes good sense to allow the recently furloughed trainer aircraft and instructors to have the first chance to get back into instruction with a LODA. However, if the purpose is to provide training where none is available, then limiting the process to only a few older planes and existing instructors will not suffice. If the FSDO is issuing LODAs based on the availability of specific training in its region, then newer experimental aircraft and any qualified instructor should be considered for a LODA, if needed.

The final provision of the new LODA guidance allows for ultralight-only training for hire by CFIs in experimental aircraft with an empty weight under 500 pounds and a top speed under 87 knots, even if the aircraft hadn’t been previously used for instruction. This actually sounds pretty good and we would have welcomed it years ago, but now it’s a test of how many people actually want to learn to fly ultralights. All it takes is an instructor, an N-numbered two-place Quicksilver, and students.

Take our poll in this month’s Light Plane World and let us know what it is that keeps you from flying. It’s in your interest to find a way to work around the obstacles that keep you on the ground. If Dave Sykes can fly his trike halfway around the world without the use of his legs, surely the rest of us can make it to a nearby fly-in. Age should be no limitation. See the picture of 88-year old Ray Caswell flying a Hurricane ultralight in the “World’s Smallest” Air Show photo album, or check out the story of 89-year-old former military pilot Victor Hernandez earning his sport pilot certificate. The achievements of Dave, Ray, and Victor make our excuses for lack of action look rather puny. Let’s get flying!

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