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ASTM Standards for S-LSA Don't Include Instrument Weather Operations

Discussions center on consumer notification

September 2, 2010 — EAA has received a number of calls and e-mails regarding an AVWeb story on Thursday (since clarified) that may have caused some confusion about the limits of special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) operations in instrument weather conditions.

A subcommittee for ASTM International, which administers the consensus standards for light-sport aircraft, has taken action that would provide better notification to LSA buyers and owners regarding use of the aircraft in instrument conditions. It requires consumer notification that S-LSA do not comply with any design standard for instrument flight operations.

At this time, no Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) design standards have been developed by the ASTM subcommittee. Thus, S-LSA would carry a placard indicating that flight into IMC is prohibited. The placard would not be required or could be removed of the aircraft complied with FAA or ASTM design standards that allowed it to be operated in IMC.

This is not the same as IFR and IFR training operations in these aircraft, which are generally allowed as long as those operations do not take place in IMC. For instance, a pilot could fly an S-LSA under an IFR flight plan, in simulated instrument conditions (under the hood). All IMC flight operations can also be prohibited if the S-LSA manufacturer does not permit it.

 “Light-sport aircraft standards were not developed with a specific goal of instrument-weather operations,” said Earl Lawrence, EAA’s vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. “Until such an ASTM standard is written and approved, such operations would not be endorsed by EAA or the governing ASTM committee for light-sport aircraft.”

ASTM standards for S-LSA aircraft do not apply to amateur-built aircraft or experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA), and do not affect Experimental category operations.

Light-sport aircraft standards were created through ASTM International for use in conjunction with the sport pilot certificate approved by FAA in 2004. Sport pilot offers a simplified pilot certificate for recreational, daytime VFR flying through a basic and safe training program.

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