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ASC Files Complaint Against the FAA With U.S. Department of Justice

By Dan Grunloh, Editor – Light Plane World, EAA 173888

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Jim Stephenson, CEO of Aero Sports Connection Inc. (ASC), a national organization supporting ultralight and light-sport aviation, announced he has filed charges against the FAA with the U.S. Department of Justice. The complaint states the FAA has unilaterally attempted to changed the definition of powered paragliders and hang gliders in violation of its own standard practices when it issued a letter on December 13, 2010, prohibiting the use of wheels or landing gear on two-place powered paragliders operating under the ultralight training exemption.

Single-place powered paragliders operating under FAR 103 aren’t required to be foot-launched, provided they meet the vehicle definition required to qualify as an ultralight. The ASC interpretation of the training exemption holds that wheels are not and should not be prohibited on two-place powered paragliders used for training. The FAA letter issued last December states that all two-place powered paraglider training must be foot-launched only, and came about due to confusion within the training community about the meaning of language in the exemption.

In the complaint issued July 5, 2011, ASC says the FAA has attempted to changed the definition of “foot launched powered paraglider” to preclude any form of wheels and asks that the FAA withdraw its inappropriate definition and formally accept the exemption holder’s definition, which is consistent with long-standing practice. ASC says the FAA action reduces safety and violates the Americans with Disability Act rules. Meanwhile ASC says it is seeking protection under the federal “whistle blower” law to prevent further retaliation. Its position is that resolution of this matter is an issue with the exemption holder, not the approved operators, and those operators shouldn’t be cited for this matter if they are approved by the exemption holder. Go to www.AeroSports.org for more information. Light Plane World has previously reported news related to this issue here and here, and here.

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