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Change.org Petition Calls For Legalization Of Flight Training In Pipistrel Alpha

Petitioner Says The Word 'Reciprocating' Should Be Removed From LSA Rules

A flight school attached to Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum in southern California has posted a petition on Change.org asking the FAA to authorize flight training in the Pipistrel Alpha electric airplane.

According to the petition, the definition in Section 14 CFR 1.1 Light Sport Aircraft in Section 6 defines the powerplant as being "A single, reciprocating engine, if powered." The petitioner is requesting a review, removal or exemption of the word "reciprocating" from the legislation which he believes unintentionally restricts electric propulsion.

"I request this definition be changed to:
"A single engine, if powered." 
OR
"A single non-turbine engine, if powered," the petition states.

"It is my belief that the word reciprocating was originally added to avoid the complications of turbine and jet aircraft being introduced into the light sport aircraft category which were originally introduced as low-performance, simple, easy to operate aircraft.

"If this word change is not possible or feasible in the near term, we are requesting that the Pipistrel ALPHA Electro be exempt from this definition so that it can be granted an Light Sport Aircraft airworthiness certification."

The petitioner states that the word "reciprocating" is the only thing that prevents the fully ASTM-compliant Pipistrel ALPHA Electro from being certified as a Light Sport Aircraft.

The petition states that electric aircraft by their definition produce no pollution during operation. If recharging is carried out by solar panels and/or wind turbine (renewable energy) then the electric aircraft fleet can operate without any adverse effects to the environment.

Electric aircraft are ideally suited to training operations where they can fly within one hour of their designated airport, return and recharge. As battery technology improves the range of electric aircraft will be extended.

Noise testing has been carried out and the Pipistrel ALPHA Electro aircraft operates at less than 50% of the noise of a comparable gasoline powered training aircraft on takeoff and landing and in many documented cases an Pipistrel ALPHA Electro aircraft flying overhead at 500 feet can’t be heard above normal ambient noise. For airports that have community noise issues then electric powered aircraft will go a long way to satisfying residential demands and requirements for less noise during operation, this will be a major benefit to the public and will influence the public’s perception that every aircraft is loud and obnoxious.

As the world’s leading, electric aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel has entered into several partnerships and projects including the Sustainable Aviation Project in central California. This is a public-private collaboration to reduce the cost of flight training through the use of all-electric general aviation/LSA airplanes, which effectively reduces flight training costs by 70%. The Sustainable Aviation Project partners include the City of Reedley, City of Mendota, Reedley College, several local flight schools, the Fresno Business Council, and the CALSTART San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center. A similar program has now been extended to the Los Angeles region with the recent delivery of 2 Pipistrel ALPHA Electro aircraft to Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum and Flight School in Compton, where the mission is helping students from low income families avoid a life of crime and drugs and instead pursue careers in aviation and aerospace.

There are an additional four Pipistrel Alpha Electros on order to be delivered to the United States and substantial interest has been received from flight training operations based in Minneapolis, Florida and Indiana.

The airport of Santa Monica, California is making arrangements for government supervised noise testing at their airport as soon as our recently delivered Electric aircraft located in Compton are issued with a certificate of airworthiness.

The petitioner says that electric propulsion actually enhances safety over conventionally-powered aircraft because there is only one moving part. There are no risks of carburetor icing, and no oil or gasoline to deal with. The batteries each have their own management system which protects against any risk of overheating. Beyond that, the Pipistrel ALPHA Electro is a glider with a 17:1 glide ratio, so it is estimated that there are only 6 seconds during the takeoff sequence where it may not be possible to make a safe return to the airport in the unlikely event of a catastrophic loss of power on takeoff.

(Images from file)

FMI: Petition

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