LAMA response to Mosaic
On behalf of LAMA, I submitted the LAMA response to the NPRM on January 22, 2024. Attached is the final version that was submitted.
This submittal was the result of comments solicited by LAMA from industry, LAMA member comments, and much discussion and dedicated work by the LAMA Board of Directors. The mission was to create and reconcile comments that would have the most positive impact on the NPRM in the best interest of our members.
This was a large volume of extra work load for those board members that were able to participate. We can all be proud of the effort and the document – I believe our comments will bring value to our members, the Light Sport industry and the flying community.
Light Aircraft Manufacturers Assn.
President, Chairman of the Board
January 22, 2024
U.S. Department of Transportation Washington, DC 20590–0001
Re: Federal Aviation Administration Docket No.: FAA–2023–1377; Notice No. 23–10 Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal
Dear Sir or Madam,
On behalf of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) and our respective member companies, we respectfully submit these comments to NPRM 23-10, Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification (Docket No.: FAA-2023-1377) published in the Federal Register on July 24, 2023, scheduled to close on October 23, 2023, and extended to January 22, 2024. Founded in 1984, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association is a nonprofit trade association representing manufacturers of light aircraft, aircraft kits, engines, propellers, avionics, parts/subassemblies, and suppliers and distributors to the light aircraft industry.
LAMA supports members that provide products and services that meet civil aviation authority safety requirements worldwide through self-declarative means of compliance. Light aircraft include all categories, classes and types up to four-seat capacity including emerging designs such as eVTOLs.
LAMA was instrumental in the development of ultralight and light aircraft airworthiness and quality assurance standards in the 1980’s and has been engaged with the industry to develop and implement light aircraft consensus standards. LAMA recognizes the safety value of performance-based regulations that allow new innovations and technologies to be addressed within the regulations without the need to be processed through traditional rulemaking processes.
This NPRM proposes to amend rules for the manufacture, certification, operation, maintenance, and alteration of light-sport aircraft. FAA suggests that proposed amendments will enable enhancements in safety and performance and will increase privileges under a number of sport pilot and light-sport aircraft rules. These enhancements include increasing suitability for flight training, limited aerial work, and personal travel. This proposed rule would expand what aircraft sport pilots may operate.
LAMA is in general supportive of the expansion of privileges under this proposal and applauds FAA for taking innovative approaches to address the many aspects of such a comprehensive change to current regulations for light aircraft.
There is concern, though, that FAA has not taken to heart the full value of performance-based regulation when new technology and innovative approaches to operations are introduced. There remain a few proposed sections that do not appear to consider the vast variety of designs, platforms and operating environments where not all requirements in the proposed rules may be applicable or necessary. This tends to put an undue burden on lighter, lower performance aircraft and more complex aircraft designed to simplify flight, maintenance and operational aspects.
LAMA encourages FAA to maintain high level safety objectives in the regulations and let consensus standards provide a variety of alternatives to show means of compliance depending on application.
Issue 1: In the NRPM the FAA states that it broadly interprets the term aerial work to mean work done from the air for compensation that does not include the carriage of persons or property.
LAMA Recommends: Change the definition of aerial work in 14 CFR Part 1.1 to include Air Tours under the following conditions:
Aerial tours would be defined as and limited to unscheduled flights made under day VFR conditions that terminate at the same location they departed from. Aircraft to be included to be factory built Light Sport aircraft conforming to the applicable ASTM standards.
Rationale: Sightseeing tours piloted by current commercial pilots, conducted in day VFR conditions, where the flight begins and ends at the same location represent a much less vigorous strain on an airframe than basic flight training. Airframes capable of enduring basic flight training would be capable of safely performing sightseeing tours.
Pilot competency and weather are the major contributing factors to accidents. Sightseeing tours operated with a factory built Light sport aircraft that meets the applicable ASTM requirements and limiting sightseeing tours to day VFR conditions and requiring the pilot to hold a minimum of a commercial pilot certificate would reduce risk to a very low level. It is unlikely there would be any measurable difference in safety, under the stated conditions, with the only difference being the use of aircraft certified in the standard category verses aircraft certificated under the applicable ASTM standards.
With the inclusion of aircraft capable of carrying up to four people in the proposed MOSAC rule, sightseeing tours carrying two to three passengers would make such an application commercially viable in many settings.
In addition to single engine aircraft, the inclusion of multi engine Light Sport Aircraft capable of good engine out performance from takeoff to touch down, with simple engine out handling, would further increase the safety of Air Tours to levels that would likely exceed that of legacy piston engine aircraft.
Public benefit: Modern Light Sport aircraft are typically more efficient and less expensive to operate than legacy aircraft which would make low-cost Air Tours available and affordable to more people.
Allowing Factory built Light Sport Aircraft to perform Air Tours would benefit aircraft manufacturers, operators, pilots and the public.
Issue 2: Powered parachutes and weight-shift control trikes have a twenty-year history of safely conducting glider towing and flight instruction operations with aircraft built under current consensus standards yet the NRPM does not extend aerial work privileges for these category LSA.
Proposed §22.120 requires that if an aircraft is designated by the manufacturer as suitable for the performance of any aerial work operation, the design and construction of the aircraft must provide sufficient structural integrity to enable safe operation of the aircraft during performance of that operation and ensure that the aircraft is able to withstand foreseeable flight and ground loads.
LAMA conditionally supports this proposal for aerial work operations for aircraft that meet the applicable FAA-accepted consensus standard for that operation. It is expected that existing standards be accepted unless there is safety data to indicate a particular aerial work operation application requires more robust design or testing.
Part 61, Subpart F. The MOSAIC proposal does not provide a pathway for powered parachutes and weight-shift-control trike pilots to perform aerial work. Commercial pilot certificates already exist for airplane single-engine, airplane-multiengine, rotorcraft-helicopter, rotorcraft-gyroplane, powered lift, glider, lighter-than-air-airship, and lighter-than-air-balloon.
Weight-shift-control and powered parachute aircraft have demonstrated twenty years of safe operational experience consistent with other LSA categories. Therefore, FAA should include these categories for use by a pilot holding a commercial pilot certificate for the following reasons:
1. Alignment with Other Ratings:
Extending this framework to include powered parachutes and weigh-shift-control trikes aligns with the broader regulatory structure and ensures consistency in the certification process across various types of aircraft.
2. Economic Opportunities:
Commercial ratings open economic opportunities for pilots by allowing them to engage in compensated flying activities. This can lead to the growth of industries related to powered parachutes and weigh-shift-control trikes, such as aerial photography, surveying, and crop and livestock scouting. It encourages pilots to pursue careers in these fields.
3. Regulatory Consistency:
Maintaining consistency in regulations across different types of aircraft fosters a clear and predictable regulatory environment. Extending commercial ratings to powered parachutes and weigh-shift-control trikes ensures regulatory coherence and avoids unnecessary discrepancies in certification requirements.
4. Economic Benefit:
Powered parachutes and weight-shift-control trikes are low-cost alternatives that are ideal for many kinds of aerial work, particularly agricultural, aerial photography and scouting. Much of the work contemplated for UAVs can be better accomplished by these categories.
By providing a clear and legal pathway to perform aerial work, pilots of powered parachutes and weight-shift-control trikes will become better trained.
LAMA Recommends: establishing a commercial rating for powered parachutes and weight- shift control trikes in Part 61, Subpart F.
New Noise Limitations In Part 36
Issue: The FAA acknowledges that extending Part 36 noise regulations to light sport, “…will likely not lead to significant noise reductions.” Yet there is a cost of compliance burden that would be imposed on all LSA manufacturers to, “…prevent the introduction of obsolete, overly loud technology …”
LAMA Recommends: In place of Part 36 requirements, FAA should allow the industry to adopt FAA accepted consensus standards for noise. Proposed §21.190(c)(2)(iv) should be re-written to replace “… applicable requirements of part 36 of this chapter.” with “applicable FAA accepted consensus standards for noise.” Similar substitution should be made in proposed §21.190(c)(4) and Proposed new §91.327(b)(4).
Sport Pilot Operational Privileges, Night Operations
Issue: The FAA is proposing in § 61.315(c)(5) that a sport pilot could gain the privilege of flying at night subject to holding either a minimum of a third class medical or basic med due to the need to be able to distinguish different colors. The purpose of this proposal was to address the situation of a flight that might become “marginally non-compliant” as it nears “the end of evening civil twilight”.
Pilots who had previously held an aviation medical without a night restriction have already demonstrated their ability to meet the color recognition requirements for night operations. Sport Pilots who have not previously held an aviation medical do not need a full aviation medical or Basic Med review in order to ascertain color vision capabilities.
Pilots who hold higher pilot certificates (Private and beyond), and who had previously held an aviation medical without any night restrictions, should be automatically allowed to exercise night privileges without the need for any additional medical review providing they continue to hold a current driver’s license.
The FAA already offers multiple color test options to be able to demonstrate compliance with the color recognition requirements of night flight. Evidence of compliance should not require a full medical but could be handled by a simple certification from someone qualified to carry out an appropriate test.
Airplanes with a Controllable Pitch Propeller
Issue: FAA proposed language in new § 61.331(b) limits the use of controlled pitch propellers to Airplanes.
LAMA Recommends: Substitute “aircraft for “airplane” with respect to the use of controllable pitch propellers.
Rationale: Some of the newest and most advanced aircraft engines are turbocharged and require a constant speed propeller to fully utilize their capabilities. The Rotax 915iS & 916iS are simple to operate with computer-controlled mixture and waist gate. Even full FADEC single lever control is now available with a constant speed prop. Operation of a full FADEC turbocharged engine equipped with a constant speed propeller is less demanding than a normally aspirated engine with manual mixture control and a fixed pitch propeller. Modern Electronic ECUs (Engine Control Unit) make the integration and operation of controllable pitch propellers simple requiring minimal input from the pilot.
Example: In the case of the turbocharged Rotax 915iS and 916iS engines the mixture and turbo boost are both controlled by dual path (redundant) ECUs and the pilot controls power output through a single throttle lever. A constant speed or controllable pitch propeller can be controlled by the pilot through a second lever or integrated into a single lever full FADEC control. In the case of the two-lever set up, these engines will automatically prevent over stressing or detonating of the engine by reducing the turbo boost to safe levels. If a poorly or untrained pilot were to command wide open throttle (100% throttle position) while dramatically reducing engine RPM, through a manual prop pitch control, the engine will continue to put out the maximum amount of power that it can safely produce, taking into account all pertinent factors. The ECU and all critical sensors are duplicated for redundancy as is the electronic ignition and electronic fuel injection. These engines offer a very high level of redundancy and reliability and have been certified in Europe to the equivalent of FAR part 33. The availability of such modern aircraft engines with simplified pilot controls reduces the workload of the pilot increasing safety over traditional engines with manual mixture controls.
Furthermore, like all modern automobile engines, these modern aircraft engines automatically operate lean of peak EGT whenever it is safe for the engine to do so increasing efficiency and reducing emissions benefiting the pilot and the environment. Legacy engines with manual mixture control are allowed in all categories of Light sport aircraft but arguably require more skill to operate properly than a modern ECU controlled engines with constant speed propellers. In the case of legacy aircraft engines operating with manual mixture controls, pilot operation at lean of peek EGT requires a considerable level of skill and attention, especially when changing altitudes.
Engine power to weight ratio is enhanced with turbocharging. Engine power to weight is a major factor in allowing innovation in aircraft design.
Turbocharged engines enhance safety by maintaining consistent performance on takeoff and initial climb at high density altitudes.
Allowing the use of controllable pitch propellers in all categories of Light Sport Aircraft will allow the use of modern turbocharged engines which will enhance performance, improve safety and broaden the appeal of all aircraft categories.
Require Sport Pilots And Flight Instructors With A Sport Pilot Rating Seeking To Add An Airplane Or Helicopter Privilege To Accomplish A Knowledge And Practical Test
Issue: The NPRM did not present evidence that the current system of transitioning between different Light Sport Categories has not been effective or safe. Using the oft quoted “Continuum of Safety”, it was noted that there are no additional knowledge test requirements for movements between Helicopter and Airplane at the Private, Instrument or Commercial levels.
LAMA Recommends: Eliminate the requirement for either a Sport Pilot or a Flight Instructor with a Sport Pilot Rating to take a new knowledge test.
Changes to Requirements for Repairman (Light-Sport) Certificates
Issue 1: FAA proposes in § 65.107(d) to maintain the current language, “The holder of a repairman certificate (light-sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating may not approve for return to service any aircraft or part thereof unless that person has previously performed the work concerned satisfactorily.”
Because of the increasingly specialized nature of new technologies incorporated in many Light Sport Aircraft from many countries across the globe, it can be difficult in some cases for repairmen to acquire experience versus training on every aspect of light sport aircraft.
LAMA recommends: Safety can be increased by modifying the current language in the regulation, to incorporate verbiage from § 43.13 Performance rules (general). Therefore, LAMA recommends FAA to amend § 65.107(d) to state, “The holder of a repairman certificate (light- sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating may not approve for return to service any aircraft or part thereof unless that person has successfully completed appropriate training for the work performed and shall use the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in the current manufacturer’s maintenance manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness or specific training or instruction prepared by its manufacturer, or other methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the Administrator.”
Rationale: § 43.13 Performance rules (general) have provided an acceptable level of safety for traditional airframe and powerplant mechanics. There is no data that suggests applying the same concept to Light Sport Repairmen would reduce safety. Providing more broad access to specific instruction and training via currently used common technologies, such as video calls, allows specific knowledge to be accessed by the repairman and verified by the manufacturer.
Issue 2: FAA proposes in § 65.107 to revise the name of the “repairman certificate (light-sport aircraft)” to “repairman certificate (light-sport)” and would allow for issuance of a repairman certificate (light-sport) for the new, proposed classes of aircraft that could be certificated in the light-sport category (i.e., helicopter and powered-lift). Additionally, the proposal would remove the hours-based training requirements for a light-sport repairman maintenance rating and instead require that applicants complete a training course, accepted by the FAA, that aligns with the Aviation Mechanic General, Airframe, and Powerplant Airman Certification Standards (Mechanic ACS). The training course would be required to include only those subject areas and knowledge, risk management, and skill elements of the Mechanic ACS that are appropriate to the category of aircraft the training course covers.
LAMA Recommends: Keep in place the existing requirements and training programs with basic hour requirements for the Light-Sport Repairman Maintenance (LSRM) and LSRI courses. Accommodate adding specific training modules to existing LSRM courses as appropriate with information specific to aircraft components and technologies, such as retractable gear, constant speed propellers, and new propulsion systems, and emerging technologies.
Rationale: The existing Light Sport Repairman programs, as administered, have provided the public with 20 years of a proven acceptable level of safety. The existing module-based training programs that have been working for 20 years are efficient in training repairman with the specific knowledge needed for the type of aircraft to be repaired and maintained. Beyond fixed wing training, one can add on Weight Shift, Powered Parachute, Glider and Lighter Than Air ratings.
Because the existing system in place has proven an acceptable level of safety, it is natural and efficient to add specific training modules to existing LSRM courses, as appropriate, with information specific to aircraft components and technologies, such as retractable gear, constant speed propellers, and new propulsion systems, and emerging technologies. This method would put specific knowledge where it is needed and not add the burden of extra cost and time for repairmen only requiring knowledge in a particular area. If a repairman wants to expand their focus, they can successfully complete those modules that satisfy their need. Continuing with the present system, repairmen will need to show completion of these new modules, that can be offered by the training course providers, the aircraft or component manufacturer, or anyone equipped to offer the specific training.
The application of a wholesale amount of knowledge, to make sure every repairman is trained to work on every type of aircraft is less effective in placing the correct knowledge in the minds and hands of the correct repairman. This method reduces safety by requiring not-needed information to be learned by the repairman, which means the repairman is less knowledgeable in all subject areas instead of being more knowledgeable in specific areas. Along with reduced safety, changes to the current training system will create a negative economic burden on repairmen, and ultimately the aircraft owner, with no safety benefit by repairmen having to spend the extra time and expense learning material not needed for their work.
The additional time and expense requirements created by a change in the program will have a negative impact on the availability of qualified repairmen, reducing access to proper maintenance, ultimately reducing safety overall. This would make Light Sport Aircraft less accessible instead of more accessible.
The present self-declarative method for compliance to industry standards includes FAA oversight and audit authority and has a proven acceptable level of safety, with no evidence for a change to the present system.
Compliance with Safety Directives issued by the Manufacturer and handling of Minor Repairs and Alterations
LAMA is supportive of the proposals to take Safety Directives and minor repairs and alterations as regulatory requirements away from the manufacturers. These requirements were overly burdensome, costly, restrictive and time consuming for aircraft owners, maintenance facilities and manufacturers, and had no measurable safety benefits.
Issue: The FAA has recognized in these changes that the power to create a situation in which an owner of a Light Sport Aircraft could be in breach of regulations is not one that should be delegated to a private entity. This is likely in breach of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The NPRM correctly addresses two of the elements making up this potential breach but fails to address a third element. This element is the power of the Light Sport Manufacturer to give engine and other TBO’s the force of law in a way that clearly goes outside of both the tenets of what is permitted under the APA and, the stated intentions of the Continuum of Safety concept.
Some examples of why this is a critical issue needing to be addressed:
- Some mechanics will not issue annual condition inspections on engines that are beyondthe TBO recommendations issued by the engine manufacturer, whereas others will, either because they do not believe that TBO is enforceable or because they are unaware of the issue.
- One aircraft manufacturer can choose to mandate compliance with TBO recommendations while another manufacturer can choose to leave them as recommendations, despite both manufacturers having installed the exact same engines.
- Engines (and potentially other major components) are having to be replaced not based on any assessment of actual condition or continued safe operation, leading to a significant financial burden on owners.
- The same engine in a certified aircraft could be operated past TBO providing it continues to meet safe operating criteria. This is clearly a reversal of the concept of the Continuum of Safety.
- A study carried out by the NTSB showed that the vast majority of engine failures took place in the early part of an engine’s life suggesting that replacing an engine that is operating to specification is actually likely to increase the risk of failure, not reduce it.
- The FAA has issued two conflicting Legal Counsel opinions on this issue (“Willette” in 2013 and “Keller” in 2015) and declined to respond to a 2016 request for clarification from Mike Busch – article, AOPA Pilot August 2023.
- LAMA Recommends:
In accordance with the concept of the Continuum of Safety and, potentially in line with the limitations encapsulated in the Administrative Procedures Act, manufacturers should no longer have the ability to mandate TBO compliance.