In two industry meetings held during 2014, Light-Sport Aircraft manufacturers, organization leaders, FAA personnel, and other interested parties reviewed a list of changes that would improve the 10-year-old SP/LSA regulation. Some items represent minor changes the agency could make fairly quickly. Others are more challenging. Number one on the list involves FAA allowing certain commercial LSA operations when flown by qualified pilots. Even if no great resistance exists — and reasons for optimism are present — this could be some time coming as regulation change is complicated in today’s federal government. Another area of intense interest is electric power. While unleashing development of LSA using electric propulsion also requires regulation change, an exemption might allow technical progress before rule change could occur. Recently another group with many more years of effort already invested was able to earn such an exemption. Ed Pitman of Pitman Air recently announced Exemption 11104.
Pitman Air LLC
Phone: (530) 529-3030Shingletown, CA 96088 - USA
You might not be in the market for a super slow flying aircraft like Dragonfly that stalls at less than 20 mph. You might not care that Ed Pittman took the lead winning Special LSA approval on behalf of Australian businessman and hang gliding pioneer Bill Moyes and American Dragonfly designer Bobby Bailey. However, as a longtime hang gliding enthusiast, I can attest on behalf of many who enjoy soaring flight in hang gliders that Dragonfly is a critically important aircraft. The unusual aircraft was purpose designed to tow a hang glider aloft so it can be released — commonly at 2,000-2,500 feet and often right in a column of thermal lift — to allow it to achieve soaring flight without the benefit of a mountain from which to launch. One of the most successful aerotug airparks, called Wallaby Ranch, is located a few miles south of Disney World in Florida.
A most remarkable thing happened recently. No, I don’t mean the sudden resignation of EAA president Rod Hightower. I refer to a recent (September 27, 2012) approval of a brand new Special LSA. Why is that noteworthy, especially as it is #128 on our SLSA List? Everyone in the business of LSA and most other alert readers have followed the long, winding, still-evolving path of FAA approvals in the fall of 2012. Specifically, FAA has released an order that says any new model from an existing LSA supplier or any LSA from a new company must be blessed by FAA headquarters in Washington DC. The Aircraft Certification branch must be informed first and an inspection judged necessary cannot be done by a DAR (Designated Airworthiness Representative… the people who have approved all other nearly 3,000 LSA in America). Under the new dictate, any new-model approval must be done by an FAA Air Safety Investigator.