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EAA/FAA Summit Brings Progress on Key GA Issues

ADS-B, ultralight training, electric aircraft among top priorities

  • FAA/EAA Summit
    Top officials from the FAA and EAA’s senior leadership team gather in the EAA Batten Board Room in Oshkosh this week.

February 12, 2015 – Progress on issues that will reduce barriers in several areas of flying, bring down costs, and enhance safety were among the top action items that came out of the annual EAA/FAA Winter Recreational Aviation Summit held Tuesday and Wednesday at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh.

The two-day session was hosted by EAA Chairman Jack Pelton and EAA's senior leadership team and included FAA officials led by John Duncan, director of Flight Standards, and Earl Lawrence, acting deputy director of the Aircraft Certification Office. More than a dozen FAA personnel from throughout the agency who are directly involved in regulatory matters also participated in the summit sessions. Also participating were leaders from the special interest groups with EAA membership, including the Vintage Aircraft Association, Warbirds of America, and International Aerobatic Club.

"The reason we welcome the FAA team to Oshkosh – the only time each year a large group of FAA personnel travel to a GA association headquarters for such a meeting – is because it works," Pelton said. "Away from other distractions, EAA and FAA teams can focus efforts on the issues that matter to our members and recreational aviation. Building relationships and finding solutions is in EAA's advocacy philosophy, and it brings results and specific action items for follow-up."

Among the highlights of this week's summit were:

  • FAA continues to fully support a rulemaking process to reform aeromedical certification, from the administrator's office throughout the agency. FAA is waiting for its rulemaking package to return from the Department of Transportation's review so it can begin the rulemaking process. EAA reiterated that the aeromedical reform issue is the top priority as indicated by EAA members.
  • EAA was encouraged by the FAA's support for allowing amateur-built aircraft to develop and install ADS-B equipment that meets the performance specifications of ADS-B "out" equipment, but not necessarily holding a TSO. "FAA made it clear to us that it wants to preserve the amateur-built category as a pathway for this development and education," said Sean Elliott, EAA's vice president of advocacy and safety.
  • A longtime barrier to expanding ultralight participation may be beginning to crumble as the FAA is willing to find a solution to the ultralight training situation that keeps potential ultralight pilots from finding specific instruction in ultralight category machines.
  • The FAA also indicated it would welcome a petition that would allow sport pilots to operate light-sport style aircraft that are powered by electric motors. That would further engage the innovation and possibilities of electric-powered aircraft for the future.
  • EAA's recommendations were included in the new Order 8130.2, which covers operating limitations for amateur-built and experimental/exhibition category aircraft. FAA officials previewed that soon-to-be-published update during the summit.

There were also extensive discussions on continuing to improve amateur-built safety, including how to properly collect and measure such data. "The FAA understands that measurements that better reflect how amateur-built aircraft are flown are needed, and are willing to work toward that goal," Elliott said. "EAA members understand our responsibility to continually improving safety, but finding a way to properly compare accident and safety data would be a major step forward."

More information from this week's summit will be published in upcoming issues of EAA Sport Aviation magazine. In addition, EAA and FAA officials agreed to maintain regular updates on the major action items identified this week, as well as meet for high-level discussions during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 in July.

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