The general aviation industry is buzzing with excitement over the FAA’s recently unveiled rulemaking proposal for light sport aircraft.
The long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certificates (MOSAIC), published Monday, boasts the potential to revolutionize the LSA market, bringing about a significant increase in their usefulness and creating new opportunities for sport pilots.
Under the FAA’s new guidelines, most of the current regulatory limitations on light sport aircraft would be removed, including the weight limit. As it stands, light sport is considered any aircraft under 1,320 pounds. The agency’s proposal would define fixed-wing aircraft as having a clean stall speed of 54 knots, a maximum flight level speed of 250 knots, and a maximum of four seats—all of which represent increases over the current regulations. As with present restrictions, a pilot exercising sport privileges may only take one passenger along.
The Experimental Aviation Association (EAA), with members who make up GA’s most passionate light sport pilots, has largely led the way when it comes to the MOSAIC initiative.
“MOSAIC had its genesis with a conversation between EAA and FAA officials nearly a decade ago, as we focused on safely creating more aviation opportunities for those who wanted to participate,” said Jack Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board. “Now that the NPRM has been released, we will study it closely and supply focused comments to ensure that the goals of this EAA-inspired initiative remain in the final language developed by the FAA.”
Other GA groups, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), advocated strongly to broaden the definition of LSA, ease operational restrictions, and permit operations for hire that were previously restricted to certified aircraft.
“Modernizing the light-sport category for the thousands of our members that fly these aircraft is something we’ve been long pushing for, and it just makes sense,” said AOPA president Mark Baker. “We’re pleased to see the FAA take this first step to help modernize the general aviation fleet and provide more options for pilots.”
The rulemaking has also garnered the support of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE).
“SAFE supports this carefully crafted FAA proposal as a creative method to expand the availability of modern, safe (and increasingly capable) aircraft to a wider audience of pilots,” executive director David St. George told FLYING. “SAFE also respects the FAA’s trust in our professional flight instructors to safely extend these new flight privileges to current and future sport pilots within this new performance-based standard.”
Zenith Aircraft, a leading light-sport manufacturer, applauded the FAA’s proposed changes, calling the NPRM “a promising initiative that could enhance the affordability, the capability, and new design choices of light aircraft for recreational pilots.”
The company also acknowledged its plans to capitalize on the benefits of the proposed changes by enhancing its aircraft designs and kits for recreational pilots.
“We support all rules that make it easier for our existing customers to continue to enjoy building and flying their airplanes,” said Sebastien Heintz, Zenith’s president. “The MOSAIC NPRM proposes rule changes and new rules that will allow just that, as well as recognizing new technologies, such as electric propulsion. Such new rules may make it feasible to not only continue to invest in airplane kit manufacturing but to pursue new aircraft certification and production in the U.S.”
Textron Aviation-owned Pipistrel and other manufacturers of electric light aircraft have also voiced support for MOSAIC. In a tweet, the company noted, “Pipistrel’s team is excited by @FAANews’ MOSAIC proposal for light sport aircraft. Recommendations in this document will benefit Pipistrel’s aircraft and our customers. A great way to kick off EAA AirVenture!”
The FAA’s comment period for the MOSAIC NPRM will close on October 23.
Pipistrel's team is excited by @FAANews' MOSAIC proposal for Light Sport Aircraft. Recommendations in this document will benefit Pipistrel’s aircraft and our customers. A great way to kick off @EAA AirVenture!— Pipistrel Aircraft (@pipistrelEU) July 24, 2023
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