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FAA Remedies Amphibious LSA, Lighter-Than-Air Issues With Direct Final Rule

Agency Delivers On Pledge Made At 2007 Oshkosh Summit

April 19 , 2007 — An FAA direct final rule issued April 9 solves two lingering light-sport aircraft (LSA) certification issues that EAA has been working to fix since the original Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) Rule issued in September 2004. The action allows special-LSA certification of amphibious aircraft with a retractable landing gear, plus increases the maximum takeoff weight for lighter-than-air LSA from 660 lbs. to 1,320 lbs. Both fixes remedy what the FAA called ?unintended consequences? of the original rule that created exceptions to the otherwise rapid growth of the LSA category of aircraft.

?We?re very pleased this has been done,? said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. ?EAA?s has been vigilant in assuring that these problems were resolved so that our members and other aviation enthusiasts who wish to fly these types of aircraft will get the full enjoyment from them.?

The preamble of original sport pilot rule was being interpreted by FAA?s legal department as prohibiting LSA certification for aircraft with a repositionable landing gear, which allows a pilot to change the position of the landing gear for land or water operations while the aircraft is airborne. In January 2005, FAA agreed to allow repositionable gears to be reconfigured for land or water operations while the aircraft is on the ground or in the water, but still did not authorize S-LSA certification of amphibious aircraft.

Czech Aircraft Works? Mermaid received an exemption from the FAA in 2006 allowing that aircraft to be operated as special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA). And during the 2007 summit in Oshkosh, LSA-Aero received its FAA exemption for the amphibious S100 Freedom. But the inconsistency in the rule remained.

At the January Summit, EAA continued to express the concerns of many in the LSA industry/community about the delay in clarifying the issue. FAA committed at the meeting to try and resolve the issue by Sun ?n Fun. The FAA?s action log from the summit included ?fast track? clarification of the amphibious issue by May 2007, and it delivered.

EAA?s consistent position was that amphibious airplanes meeting the other LSA performance and specification parameters, regardless of gear-repositioning features, should be included among LSA-eligible aircraft, thus allowing more participation in this category segment.

The original 660-lb LTA weight was found to be impracticable, which has been borne out in the marketplace with no certificated LTA LSA.

?We?re similarly pleased that the FAA has adjusted the weight criteria for lighter than air LSA, brining it in line with the other LSA classes.? Lawrence added.

The final rule?s effective date is June 4, 2007. FAA will accept comments for inclusion in the Rules Docket through May 21, 2007.

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