ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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New FAA Certification Requirements Elevate Light-Sport Aircraft

New York, Jul 21, 2004

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued new certification requirements for light- sport aircraft, pilots and repairmen that will “make recreational flying safer while keeping it affordable and fun.”

According to the FAA statement, the agency has created two new aircraft airworthiness certificates: one for special light-sport aircraft, which may be used for personal as well as for compensation while conducting flight training, rental or towing; and a separate certificate for experimental light-sport aircraft, which may be used only for personal use. The rule also establishes requirements for maintenance, inspections, pilot training and certification.

The FAA worked with the general aviation community to create a final rule that sets safety standards for the 15,000 people who will now earn FAA certificates to operate more than 15,000 existing uncertificated ultralight-like aircraft. Another 12,000 pilots and new aircraft will be certificated over the next 10 years.

Because the new rules will help keep recreational flying affordable, the agency expects the return of thousands of pilots who left aviation because of high costs. The rule’s safety requirements should also give this segment of the general aviation community better access to insurance, financing, and airports.

“We want to make aviation safe and affordable for recreational pilots,” said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey. “This sport pilot, light-sport aircraft rule reduces the barriers to becoming a pilot and an aircraft owner while assuring that safety will always be the priority.

ANSI member ASTM International formed Committee F37 on Light Sport Aircraft in 2002. The group has seven standards-developing subcommittees that cover: Gliders; Airplanes; Power Parachutes; Weight Shift; Gyroplanes; Lighter than Air; and Cross Cutting.

According to Maryann Gorman, editor-in-chief of ASTM Standardization News, prior to an FAA decision in 2002 to propose allowing the light-sport aircraft industry to develop its own consensus standards, the prospects for substantial market growth in this sector were low. “Recreational aircraft had to meet onerous FAA requirements meant for more complex aircraft — maximizing design cost as well as cost to the consumer while minimizing design latitude,” said Gorman. The new FAA rule will allow for much simpler pilot and aircraft certification requirements and procedures.

For more information on ASTM and light-sport aircraft, check out the Spring/Summer 2004 edition of the ANSI Reporter.