Many of you are aware of FAA’s confused state over “repositionable gear” for LSA floatplanes. At present the agency is stalled regarding the issue. I understand from highly placed officials that a solution could be to allow one gear movement per flight. That would fix the problem but changes move very slowly in the federal bureaucracy. To kick start action, one active producer of floats and flying boats — Czech Aircraft Works, and their U.S. partner, Sport Aircraft Works — has swiftly gotten the agency to release a “Petition for Exemption.” The usual dense federal language describes the petition, but Sport Aircraft Works has made responding much easier. Go to their website and follow the directions; they provide a link to the FAA submission site. Comments must be received by March 6, 2006, so if this matters to you (and it should!), then please take action quickly.
With 191 Mermaid orders on the books, Sport Aircraft Works (SAW) is understandably anxious to start deliveries. The trouble is — or the advantage is, if you’re a willing buyer — that Mermaid is an amphibian. That means it has gear that moves, or…”repositions.” The repositionable gear dilemma remains unresolved, despite the petition for exemption by Czech Aircraft Works. So for now, says SAW’s Danny Defelici, “We’ll be placarding the Mermaid against moving the gear in flight.” He added that at the recent Sebring Expo, several top FAA officials looked for a reason that Mermaid could not be SLSA certified. “They found nothing to prevent it, so we went ahead and obtained our certificate,” Danny explained. Mermaid is #28 to win SLSA credentials. While the agency figures out its response, an exemption process could allow all floatplane or amphib producers to go forward with deliveries in time for the summer season.