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Tue, May 15, 2018

Electric Airplanes Wait For FAA Approval For Flight Training

But Current Rules Say Light Sport Aircraft Must Be Powered By A Reciprocating Engine

The cities of Reedley and Mendota, CA recently purchased four Pipistrel Alpha Electro aircraft for use in a pilot training program through a $1.3 million grant from the state. But until FAA regulations change, the airplanes are not allowed to be used for that purpose.

The Business Journal reports that pilots for The Sustainable Aviation Project, a non profit organization established to operate and maintain the airplanes, are flying the aircraft to check their range and developing a flight training curriculum. The aircraft would be operated between Chandler airport in Fresno, Mendota’s William Robert Johnston Municipal Airport and Reedley Municipal Airport, all in fairly close proximity to one another.

But there is a problem. FAA rules governing Light Sport Aircraft specify that they must be powered by a reciprocating (read gasoline-powered) engine. And a change in those rules, once introduced, could take years to be approved.

The airplanes are currently certified as experimental, allowing them to be flown. But the certification does not allow them to be used for flight training, the purpose for which they were purchased.

The Sustainable Aviation Project has been working for months to obtain a waiver from the FAA to allow them to begin flight training.

The goal of the program is to provide flight training at a lower cost to students who might not otherwise be able to afford the lessons.

(Image from file)

FMI: Original report, www.sustainableaviationproject.com


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