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Mar 27, 2014 NEWSwire
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PHOTO CAPTION: Light sport aircraft like this Pipistrel Alpha would be impacted by proposed FAA order.

FAA Order Would Hamper Development of Electric Airplanes, Warns AOPA

Draft order would impose restrictions on several class of general aviation aircraft, including electric-powered models, restricting the areas they could operate.

Published: 27-Mar-2014

The light sport aircraft industry is pushing back against a draft FAA order that would impose significant new limits on some. The draft, a 322-page set of instructions for FAA inspectors and other staff who deal with airworthiness certification, stands to limit the use of aircraft that left the factory with a special light sport aircraft (SLSA) airworthiness certificate and were subsequently issued an experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA) certificate. Carrying passengers, flight over densely populated areas, and flying at night (or under instrument flight rules) would all be prohibited, regardless of pilot certification. The same limitations would apply to electric-powered (and rocket-powered) aircraft.

AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman said the new limits are “not appropriate,” are not based on any relevant data, and the association will ask the FAA to reconsider the pending changes before the draft is finalized. The proposed limitations are “not supported by any current regulatory requirements, or by existing safety data,” Hackman said.

Hackman noted that SLSA aircraft are built to ASTM standards, and owners may decide to apply for an ELSA certificate for a number of reasons, including cases where the original manufacturer is out of business. The draft FAA order would impose the new limitations even in the absence of any modification to the aircraft.

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