The FAA extended the deadline to comment on proposed rule changes to modernize aircraft certification, delaying the effort by three months as some stakeholders requested.
The agency noted in the revised rulemaking proposal published October 4 that the extension of the deadline to comment on the most significant overhaul to aircraft certification rules in decades was granted at the request of the Aircraft Electronics Association, Aeronautical Repair Station Association, Aviation Suppliers Association, Aviation Technician Education Council, Helicopter Association International, International Air Response Inc., Modification and Replacement Parts Association, and the National Air Transportation Association. The agency noted that 10 individuals made the opposite request: that the FAA maintain the October 23 deadline. The comment period has been extended to January 22. AOPA learned in discussions with FAA staff that the extension should not affect the planned implementation by the end of 2024.
The proposed rules have many significant elements, including an increase of the light sport stall speed (clean) to 54 knots and raising the maximum speed to 250 knots calibrated airspeed. Retractable landing gear and controllable-pitch propellers would also be allowed. The aircraft weight limit (currently 1,320 pounds) would be eliminated.
The new regulations will also (as AOPA requested) expand the privileges of sport pilots flying light sport aircraft to include certain commercial operations, such as product demonstrations. Sport pilots would also be allowed to fly at night, operating more capable aircraft, with appropriate instructor endorsements.
As proposed, the new definition of light sport would include many certified aircraft, including many certified single-engine piston airplanes. However, as AOPA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Murray Huling noted in July, the 54-knot VS1 is “too low. It would allow a Cessna 182 but not allow a Piper Cherokee 140, and also exclude many other popular four-seat aircraft. We’ll push to get it revised to incorporate all logical four-seat aircraft.”
AOPA continues to compile detailed comments on the rest of the proposed changes.