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EAA Watching Move to Eliminate Glider Transponder Exemption

June 25, 2015 - EAA will be voicing strong objection to any additional requirements for gliders to carry transponder or ADS-B equipment in response to a recently published FAA Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the subject. The ANPRM seeks public comment on possible modifications to current rules that exempt gliders from both mandates (FAR 91.215 and 91.225).

The action appears to be largely prompted by a single accident in 2006 involving a nonfatal mid-air collision. According to the NTSB, the collision occurred at 16,000 feet between a business jet on approach into Reno, NV and a glider based in nearby Minden. As a result of its investigation, the NTSB recommended that the FAA re-evaluate the exemption for gliders from FAR 91.215, which mandates aircraft in certain airspace carry and use transponders with Mode C altitude encoding equipment. The issue was pressed further by letters in 2012 from Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) requesting that the FAA remove the glider exception from the rule.

“Glider pilots are as vigilant about collision avoidance as every other user of the National Airspace System,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. “However, we do not believe that a universal equipment mandate is necessary and we will make our position clearly known to the FAA.”

Both the Mode C and ADS-B mandates also exempt balloons and aircraft without engine-driven electrical systems. While EAA is concerned that any action against the glider community on the mandate could eventually make its way to these other groups, the FAA has stated it is not re-evaluating those carve-outs.

Comments to the ANPRM will be accepted through August 17. Members who wish to comment are encouraged to thoroughly read the document as the FAA seeks answers to specific questions found therein. Comments may be submitted online or sent to the address listed.

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