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FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson Discusses Flight Training at AirVenture

July 31, 2021 – FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson discussed numerous topics, including flight training, during the Meet the Administrator forum on Thursday morning at Theater in the Woods during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021.

With the recent developments and controversy surrounding the issue of flight training in experimental, primary, and limited category aircraft, Dickson addressed the topic early on during his opening remarks.

“It’s been a source of frustration for many of you, and it’s been a source of frustration for me as well,” Dickson said. “This letter of deviation authority situation has been on my mind, and I’m not any happier about this situation than any of you are. The good news though, like many challenges in aviation, is we have found a way to work together to get through it very quickly and efficiently. … It’s not the first thing I wanted to have to talk about at my first AirVenture [as FAA administrator].”

Dickson went on to say that he expects the current situation, which requires owners of experimental aircraft to acquire a LODA to train in their aircraft, to be resolved through rulemaking.

“The bottom line is that we’ve got a rule on this topic that does not say what we want it to say. We had guidance out there for the agency and our inspectors that was incorrect,” Dickson said. “This is a very narrow issue, and I just want to assure everyone that this is not going to pollute other issues you may be concerned about. … We do need to rewrite the rule so it says what we want it to say. The problem is this rulemaking process takes a lot of time. We needed a solution in the near-term. That was to set up an expedited way for owners or instructors to receive a letter of deviation authority so they could operate in compliance with the regulation. … I told my people that if we had to do this, we needed to make it as painless as possible. The LODA allows owners to obtain the flight training that we all know is in the interest of safety.”

That in mind, he pointed out that this isn’t something the FAA is looking to bust people on.

“Our inspectors are not going to be out there conducting active surveillance on this,” he said. “We’re not going to be out there looking for issues. … We’ve already initiated the rulemaking and we’re off on our way so we make sure we get the situation figured out.”

Dickson also spoke about his excitement for the innovation that’s showcased at AirVenture, the progress made on the modernization of special airworthiness certificates (MOSAIC), improvement of general aviation safety, among others.

“We’re evolving to keep pace with technology while maintaining safety in the light-aircraft sector,” Dickson said of MOSAIC. “I appreciate the collaboration with EAA and [EAA CEO and Chairman] Jack [Pelton]’s leadership and the work of his team and other groups to get all this done. MOSAIC is hugely important to us, and I know it’s important to many of you. … There’s been some great dialogue this week and some shared commitment to moving it forward. Our goal is to publish the final rule by September of 2023. This is after years of work. We anticipate significant improvements and expansions in the light-sport sector for fully manufactured aircraft and for kit aircraft. For example, light-sport aircraft would be able to have four seats and would be able to account for electric propulsion as well.”

The 2021 FAA General Aviation Award winners were also honored on Thursday during the Meet the Administrator forum. Ron Timmermans was named the CFI of the Year, Mike Dunkley was named Aviation Technician of the Year, and Adam Magee was named the FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.

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