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01/26/06 - EAA ASKS FAA TO PROCESS S-LSA APPLICATION FOR CZECH AIRCRAFT WORKS MERMAID
No basis within the rule to deny S-LSA airworthiness certificate
EAA submitted comments to a manufacturer’s petition for exemption Wednesday asking the FAA to process the Czech Aircraft Works’ Mermaid amphibious aircraft application for a special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) airworthiness certificate without delay. EAA contends that the airplane is already eligible under existing final sport pilot rules; however, FAA contends that the Mermaid’s repositionable landing gear disqualifies it from eligibility for an S-LSA.
But FAA has already certificated other amphibious aircraft as S-LSA, and the Mermaid appears to qualify according the language within the final rule.
So what’s the problem?
The Part 1 definition of a light-sport aircraft includes two statements that specifically allow for the certification of an amphibious aircraft. The definition states that an LSA is an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift, that has:
(11) Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft intended for operation on water or a glider
(12) Fixed or repositionable landing gear, or a hull, for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
“There is nothing in this regulation that would exclude an amphibious aircraft from being eligible for a special airworthiness certificate for a light-sport category aircraft because the petitioner’s aircraft is amphibious,” said Earl Lawrence Vice President Industry and Regulatory Affairs. “EAA has not identified any statement in these regulations that would indicate the Mermaid is not eligible for a special light-sport aircraft certificate.”
EAA also points out the preamble to the final rule states that FAA intended to allow the use of repositionable landing gears on all light-sport aircraft intended for operation on water. FAA contends that the preamble further states that FAA did not intend to permit retractable landing gear for aircraft designed for operation on water, and EAA acknowledges that.
But the FAA does not define “retractable” or “repositionable,” even though EAA and others specifically requested for a definition of the proposed term “repositionable” in comments to the proposed final rule during its formation. EAA’s position is, therefore, that since the FAA does not define the term “repositionable” the agency has no basis to deny any aircraft for a light-sport aircraft because of the method the aircraft uses, in essence, to “store” its landing gear.
In addition, the FAA has already certificated several other amphibious aircraft as S-LSA, which are currently in operation.
Since the FAA:
- Exempts “aircraft intended for operation on water” from the paragraph (11) requirement for a “fixed gear‘’ in the definition of a light-sport aircraft, and
- Specifically includes aircraft with “repositionable landing gear, or a hull for an aircraft intended for operation on water”
- Does not define a repositionable gear in the preamble of the final rule or in the regulations; and
- Has already certificated multiple amphibious aircraft as Light-Sport Aircraft
EAA therefore contends that the Mermaid aircraft is eligible for an S-LSA airworthiness certificate, meaning there is no need for the applied-for exemption to meet the eligibility requirements for the referenced certificate.