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AOPA provides support, recommendations on MOSAIC

In comments to the FAA on January 22, AOPA collaborated with aviation organizations to ensure the much-anticipated rulemaking on the expansion of light sport aircraft and sport pilot privileges will go far enough to meet the needs of the pilot population and make sense within the national airspace system.

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The FAA’s Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification (MOSAIC) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was introduced in July. The 300-page proposal addressed expanding the scope and size of light sport aircraft certification; broadening the privileges of sport pilot certificates, training, and endorsements; refining maintenance requirements; and changing the maintenance training requirements for those working on light sport aircraft.

Comments endorsed and submitted by AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the National Business Aviation Association, and the National Air Transportation Association span 22 pages and aim to provide constructive feedback that will maximize the potential of the proposal and positively shape opportunities for the light sport industry going forward.

Driven by the stellar safety record of light sport operations and the feedback from members of their respective organizations, many of the recommendations from the groups support the FAA’s proposed changes. Some of the proposals that received enthusiastic support from AOPA and fellow GA advocates include, but are not limited to:

  • The removal of the 1,320-pound maximum weight.
  • An increase in the maximum airspeed in level flight from 120 knots calibrated airspeed to 250 knots CAS.
  • Allowing a light sport aircraft to be equipped with any type of powerplant, retractable landing gear, and controllable pitch propeller.
  • The permission for light sport aircraft to engage in aerial work activities.
  • The authorization for sport pilots to operate at night with appropriate training and instructor endorsement.

However, the comments also emphasize that details of the proposal may need further clarification and change. While the FAA is headed in the right direction with many of these proposals, safety experts, pilots, and member organizations recognize that further expansion may be warranted to meet the needs of the light sport category and sport pilots. Among these recommendations:

  • Increase the maximum stalling speed to a standard of 61 knots with safety enhancing devices, but at minimum an increase to 58 knots. The FAA proposal would only raise the maximum stalling speed to 54. By increasing this number further, the rule would include more four-seat training aircraft.
  • Increase seating capacity to four for all expanded categories. The FAA proposal would approve a four-seat capacity for airplanes, but doesn’t include an expanded seat count for helicopters, gyroplanes, or others.
  • Raise the sport pilot passenger authorization from one passenger to three passengers. The FAA proposal would continue to limit sport pilots to carrying one passenger despite allowing sport pilots to fly aircraft with four seats.
  • Raise the altitude restriction to 12,500 feet msl. The FAA proposal would retain the current altitude restriction of 10,000 feet msl. By raising the msl restriction, pilots are afforded greater terrain clearance over treacherous areas.
  • Remove application of proposed noise standards to experimental amateur built, experimental light sport aircraft, and special light sport aircraft. The FAA proposal would unfairly apply strict FAR Part 36 noise standards to a unique and innovative aircraft category.
  • Expand or offer alternative options for sport pilots who want to take advantage of the new permission to fly at night. The FAA proposal would require a valid FAA medical certificate or operation under BasicMed.

With the comment period now closed, the FAA will begin to review and respond to the more than 1,300 comments received on the NPRM. While the volume of comments will push the final rule into next year, AOPA will continue encouraging the FAA to prioritize and accelerate this review so that light sport aircraft and sport pilots can profit from these much-anticipated changes.

Lillian Geil

Communications Specialist
Communications Specialist Lillian Geil is a student pilot and a graduate of Columbia University who joined AOPA in 2021.
Topics: Advocacy, Aircraft Regulation, Pilot Regulation

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