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03/22/06 - GROEN BROTHERS SEEKS EXEMPTION FOR E-LSA GYROPLANES

Groen Brothers Aviation USA, Inc., has applied to the FAA for an exemption to the light-sport aircraft rule to certificate, produce, and sell ready-to-fly, experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) gyroplanes.

Currently the LSA rule states that to certificate an E-LSA, a company must first obtain special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) certification for one aircraft of that model. However, the regulations specifically prohibit S-LSA certification for gyroplanes. It’s this conundrum from which Groen Brothers Aviation seeks relief.

In its final release of the light-sport aircraft rule, the FAA stated it would consider establishing a category for S-LSA gyroplanes after assessing the impact of approving such aircraft. The gyroplane community has developed consensus standards for the aircraft type through ASTM Int’l. But, standards-compliant gyroplanes are needed to establish the safety and performance records FAA requires to make its decision.

This “chicken-and-egg” scenario puts a gyroplane manufacturer at a competitive disadvantage in the LSA marketplace. It cannot develop, manufacture, and market such an aircraft for a marketplace it’s not legally allowed to enter. If granted, the exemption would make it economically feasible for Groen Brothers to produce standards-compliant gyroplanes, such as its SparrowHawk, for the sport aviation marketplace.

In Groen Brothers Aviation’s petition, Executive Vice President Robin H. H. Wilson concludes, “Without such availability there are continued impediments to training and certification that would certainly have detrimental effects on gyroplane safety and a popular desire to participate under the new rules.”

EAA supports this exemption petition and will file a letter of support with the FAA.


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