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Fri, Aug 26, 2005

A Meeting Of The Minds On LSA

EAA Says Progress Made On Light-Sport Aircraft Maintenance

The EAA says brought together light-sport aircraft industry leaders and the Federal Aviation Administration officials this week at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh, hoping to make progress on maintenance issues.

The gathering on Wednesday and Thursday, which built on the productive talks held last month during EAA AirVenture 2005, focused on the repairman/maintenance and inspection ratings for light-sport aircraft (LSA), according to EAA officials. Among the FAA representatives at Oshkosh for two days of discussions were officials from FAA headquarters in Washington, DC, and the FAA Sport Pilot Office in Oklahoma City. Progress was made in several areas that would help complete the basic sport pilot/light-sport aircraft infrastructure.

"During this meeting, EAA and industry officials emphasized to FAA the vital importance of effective and practical regulations for light-sport aircraft maintenance," said Earl Lawrence, EAA's vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. "Using safety and practicality as our cooperative goals, we made great progress to revise the previous policy that was first unveiled earlier this year. The repairman and maintenance courses are among the final pieces remaining to complete the basic infrastructure for success."

Among the progress reported at the meeting was agreement to utilize ultralight industry experts as instructors for repairman/maintenance courses, which would allow better-qualified instructors for traditional ultralight areas such as powered parachutes and aircraft with two-stroke engines. In addition, agreement came on approval for larger class sizes (up to 25 students) as long as a maintenance school meets Part 147 facility requirements. That advancement would allow maintenance courses to be more economically feasible.

Since the sport pilot rule became effective last September, no LSA repairman/maintenance courses have been forwarded to FAA for approval. There is interest for such courses from a sizable number of maintenance schools, but FAA's restrictive course requirements have kept them from submitting materials for approval.

Currently, light-sport aircraft can be maintained and inspected by an FAA-certificated airframe-and-powerplant (A&P) mechanic or authorized repair station. However, the rule also provides for individuals to earn a light-sport repairman/maintenance (LS-M) rating to do the maintenance and annual condition inspection for any light-sport aircraft, as well as other condition inspections.

"This is an infrastructure need that requires a resolution," Lawrence said. "EAA and the light-sport aircraft industry has been working with FAA on a new policy for these courses for many months. FAA has been quite willing to explore solutions with EAA and industry to meet the needs of the expanding light-sport aircraft community."

Lawrence expects a revised procedure to be available from FAA by the end of the year.

FMI: www.eaa.org

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