An FAA policy that added hurdles for pilots who were seeking safety and flight review training in homebuilt and other experimental category aircraft could be fixed through bipartisan efforts within a national defense reauthorization bill making its way through Congress.
The FAA policy turnabout, established in July 2021, required certain aircraft owners and flight instructors providing flight training in experimental aircraft to obtain a letter of deviation authority (LODA) in order to conduct flight training. This would include homebuilt aircraft owners seeking training in their own aircraft. The sudden FAA policy change caused a great deal of confusion and forced the agency to quickly adopt the LODA workaround to prevent the unintentional grounding of tens of thousands of pilots.
The bipartisan provision, backed by Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), and Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) and Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), would eliminate the LODA requirement and solve the issue for the vast majority of pilots.
Under the provision, owners of amateur-built aircraft and other experimental aircraft will once again be able hire a flight instructor for instruction, flight reviews, checkrides, etc., in their own or a borrowed aircraft provided that compensation is not being made for the use of the aircraft itself, without the need for a LODA.
“The LODA system has a distinct purpose to make aircraft and training commercially available in limited circumstances to promote safety and transition training in aircraft that are not otherwise readily available. But using it as a broad-brush way to address a poor legal interpretation that served only to degrade safety was completely misguided,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “Our thanks go out to the members of Congress who understood this and included this important policy fix in legislation.”
Specifically, the provision (SEC. 5604. LETTER OF DEVIATION AUTHORITY) states:
A flight instructor, registered owner, lessor, or lessee of an aircraft shall not be required to obtain a letter of deviation authority from the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to allow, conduct or receive flight training, checking, and testing in an experimental aircraft if-
(1) the flight instructor is not providing both the training and the aircraft;
(2) no person advertises or broadly offers the aircraft as available for flight training, checking, or testing; and
(3) no person receives compensation for use of the aircraft for a specific flight during which flight training, checking, or testing was received, other than expenses for owning, operating, and maintaining the aircraft.