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Mon, Oct 02, 2023

EAA Comments on LODA NPRM

Righting Past Wrongs

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and Warbirds of America have filed joint comments germane to an FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) codifying new rules for flight-training in experimental, limited, and primary-category aircraft.

The FAA contends the NPRM is intended to re-establish the status-quo prior to a June 2021 court ruling that up-ended longstanding policy pertaining to flight-training in the aforementioned aircraft. The ruling gave rise to a regulatory environment in which owners of experimental aircraft were required to secure Letters Of Deviation Authority (LODAs) to train in their own aircraft. Owners of limited category aircraft seeking to train in their own machines were obligated to obtain similar exemptions. Legislation set forth in 2022 eliminated the LODA requirement for most experimental aircraft owners.

The NPRM upon which the EAA and Warbirds of America have commented confirms additional FAA authorization is required only in instances in which an experimental aircraft is utilized in a commercial flight training operation—the selfsame policy in effect prior to June 2021.

To facilitate limited category aircraft receiving LODAs, the NPRM relocates the LODA rule to a different paragraph within Part 91. The proposed rule also rewrites the primary category statute to explicitly allow compensated flight training—the rule’s original intent as stated in its preamble.

Beyond correcting the 2021 court ruling, the NPRM expands the types of flight-training operations allowed under a LODA—following several years of advocacy by EAA and other groups. New additions include training for endorsements, aerobatics, flight reviews, and even expanded training opportunities for a sport pilot certificate. Some of these new additions require the applicant to show “specific need” to conduct such training in an experimental or limited category aircraft.

Fulfilling another EAA advocacy priority, the NPRM removes the experimental light-sport (E-LSA) “sunset date” for training, allowing for these types to again be available to train the public for operation of an ultralight vehicle under a LODA with a rated sport pilot instructor.

EAA and Warbirds’ comments, created in consultation with leaders from several aviation communities, are generally supportive of the changes within the context of the 2021 court decision, its fallout, and long-sought reforms to the traditional LODA system. The comments are mainly technical in nature and request, in summary:

  • Allowing all E-LSAs to be used for training under a LODA. As written, only aircraft certificated under 14 CFR 21.191(i)(1) would be allowed to provide instruction to the flying public. These are primarily “two-seat ultralights” originally operated under ultralight training exemptions held by EAA and others. Given that experimental amateur-built aircraft are permitted to offer LODA training, EAA feels that E-LSAs certificated under 14 CFR 21.191(i)(2) and (3) – aircraft built from kits and converted from special light-sport aircraft (S-LSAs), respectively – are appropriate for such training as well.
  • Eliminating the “specific need” requirement for certain types of training. EAA and Warbirds note that transition training with an appropriately rated and endorsed pilot does not require specific need, so training toward an endorsement, aerobatics, and other types of training with an otherwise qualified pilot applicant should not be restricted.
  • Removing language that suggests flights should be restricted to one person receiving training. In some large warbirds, it is common practice to fly with multiple students on a single training flight in order to rotate students through a training task with fewer takeoffs and landings.
  • Rewriting the language on LODA issuance to make the rule clearer and less prescriptive.
  • Clarifying policy language so that low-mass, high-drag, fixed-wing experimental aircraft can be used for training toward a sport pilot certificate. This is intended to address a lack of suitable S-LSAs in this segment and allow pilots and instructors to train in aircraft similar to what they will ultimately fly.

The Commemorative Air Force and the Association of Professional Warbird Operators offered input to the comments submitted by EAA and Warbirds of America and added letters of concurrence to the NPRM docket.

EAA will continue to advocate for access to quality flight training across all types, with appropriate risk mitigations where needed.

FMI: www.eaa.org

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