Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Talk about airplanes! At last count, there are 39 (and growing) FAA certificated S-LSA (special light sport aircraft). These are factory-built ready to fly airplanes. If you can't afford a factory-built LSA, consider buying an E-LSA kit (experimental LSA - up to 99% complete).

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c162pilot
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Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby c162pilot » Sat Jan 28, 2017 7:04 pm

Just returned from the 2017 Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring. While in conversation with one of the major S-LSA vendors, at Expo, I was told that now that both BasicMed and the Part 23 rewrite are done that according to Jack Pelton the next priority for the EAA is getting the gross weight of S-LSA's increased.

Can anybody confirm if this is indeed fact or just wishful thinking / conjecture?

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby foresterpoole » Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:58 pm

I have heard the rumor, but none of my EAA friends will confirm it. I have to say it would be nice, but reality is the FAA might have given as much as they are willing to give.
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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby Wm.Ince » Sun Jan 29, 2017 6:28 pm

eyeflygps wrote:Personally, I think it's best not to worry about what may or may not ever happen. Plot your course based on what is. You can always alter course if things change.

Concur with that advice.

That withstanding, we now live in an era of thinking "outside of the box," so it is not as far fetched as some would believe. I think officials are now more open to new ideas and making general aviation great again. Mark Baker, EAA and some aviation proponents in Congress were very instrumental in getting PBOR II passed, so there is now renewed hope for other changes to come about. I am all for it. But for the time being, I am perfectly happy flying as a light sport pilot in my CTSW. It is a great and very capable little airplane.
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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby zaitcev » Mon Jan 30, 2017 3:22 pm

A PSF article on the topic says that activists work on 3 main directions:

- Use for work (e.g. spraying and pipeline patrol)

- Electric power and weight exemptions

- Rotorcraft S-LSA

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby dstclair » Mon Jan 30, 2017 4:14 pm

Raising the LSA weight would be a great addition to the standard (dropping the top end speed and having a controllable prop would be close to the top of my wish list as well) but I'd caution any would be LSA drivers to not hold off on flying or buying based on the chance of a higher MTOW. It took over 5 years for PBOR II to pass which is lot of flying time (to me) to waste. There are a lot of great planes out that that fit the current standards and meet a lot of missions.
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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby Nomore767 » Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:34 am

Raising the gross weight of S-LSA is hardly likely to release a large pent up amount of would be owners or operators.

When the light sport rules were implemented there was talk that this would lead to a large amount of frustrated pilots and owners getting back into flying and that there would be a new supply of aircraft to meet that demand. Whilst there is an incredible amount of LSAs being produced by a slew of manufacturers sales have been largely slow and disappointing. Suggesting increasing the weight would be any kind of priority for the EAA is a bit of a stretch in my view.

Personally, it would be nice for me to increase the gross weight of my RV-12 . Primarily, in changing the weight to accommodate a larger fuel tank and perhaps some more baggage would increase the already outstanding utility although I'm perfectly happy with what I have. Besides the cost of an increase would likely be borne by fellow owners and the cost to add the mods pribably wouldn't be worth it to me.

Whenever I fly my own S-LSA I'm always amazed at how little flying is done in the USA by small GA and light sport airplanes. I fly over and into several air parks and there is usually little to no activity on the nicest flying days. My own field now has another RV-12 ( just completed after a 6 year build) and a CTLS ( not flying after a brush with a fuel pump) but most flying is done by a couple of beat up old 172s. I rarely see my hangar neighbors at all let alone see them flying their planes.
I'm currently visiting the U.K where the weather has been typically dreary most days however I've been surprised at the number of light aircraft flying around whenever the weather picks up.

I can't see S-LSA manufacturers investing a lot of capital in modifying their current products to meet an approved weight increase if it ever happens. Some may be 'modified' if they're already operating elsewhere at higher weights as designed to meet higher weights in other countries and maybe some new aircraft would be introduced at the higher weight.

As for adding other new features such as controllable props etc this will only increase the price and many have been complaining about the current prices for several years so how would this improve things?
Last edited by Nomore767 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby MrMorden » Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:16 am

Nomore767 wrote:Raising the gross weight of S-LSA is hardly likely to release a large pent up amount of would be owners or operators.


Probably not. but what might happen is a lot of owners of existing S-LSA converting them to E-LSA, as I have done with my CTSW. In that case, you'd no longer be stuck at the factory set 1320lb, but could change the gross to whatever the new number is. The limitations on E-LSAs are such that any modifications can be made as long as they don't take it outside LSA performance parameters. You'd probably have to do some stall testing to verify that they airplane stalls below 45kt clean at the new weight (and if not, some wing vortex generators might solve the issue), but otherwise it should be do-able.

I know I'd hop on that process instantly if it were an option.
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
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2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby Nomore767 » Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:32 pm

Well the thread starter mentioned S-LSAs in particular.

Sure there will be owners who want to convert to E-LSA but I don't plan to and I haven't met another S-LSA owner who plans to either.
It also depends on what the "new" higher weight would be. Would it be an arbitrary number like 1500lbs or something else? For some European models already built to a different weight max and certified in those countries at those weights maybe it would be more viable and offer more flexibility to the owner in the USA. For myself the only thing I'd add to my RV-12 is a bigger capacity tank say another 10 gallons or 60 lbs and maybe more baggage area weight. Presumably these items and carrying slightly heavier occupants would still be subject to accommodating the weight distribution.
Again, for me a bigger tank is only thing I'd really want and I can almost guarantee Vans won't alter the design anyway even with a change in the weight rule. Besides once the new UL fuels become widely available the bigger fuel requirement would be much less important to me personally and it's not that important now.

The demand for sport flying isn't particularly high and neither is there a mad rush to get back into GA flying post PBR2 in my view. So what would motivate the Feds or manufacturers to go to the lengths and expense required?
Last edited by Nomore767 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby 3Dreaming » Tue Jan 31, 2017 1:11 pm

eyeflygps wrote:How would they even raise the gross weight on existing LSA? That could be a dangerous situation with weight and balance and stall speeds, etc. Wouldn't each airplane need to be re certified? Now, if they would say Sport Pilots are allowed to fly already certified aircraft up to some higher gross weight, that would be good. For instance, let Sport Pilots purchase and fly all the old C150's and C152's sitting around. I could go for that. People who can afford to purchase an LSA do. Those of us who don't have $100,000 laying around for a hobby could jump on a C150.


The FAA can't raise the gross weight on existing aircraft. They could if they chose change the definition of a LSA, or sport pilot privileges to allow for operation at a heavier gross weight. For the gross weight of an existing aircraft to be raised it would have to be approved by the manufacture. Before it could be approved by the manufacture ASTM would have to develop standards for the increase.

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby MackAttack » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:58 am

There are some LSAs that are very near the maximum empty weights (e.g., some Tecnams and CubCrafter LSAs) which would benefit from a weight increase. For me personally in my Tecnam, that would allow a second 200-lb passenger and full fuel, for example, and the aircraft would still be under its EASA-certified MGW. There would be a safety benefit, in my personal opinion, from allowing a CS propeller too. But a speed limit increase would be important to make the full package commercially viable. For example, most LSA airframes could be adapted to use the forthcoming Rotax 915iS engine. However, that engine weighs 40 lbs more than the 912iS or the 914. Some aircraft have that kind of headroom and some don't. I think some manufacturers would like the flexibility to offer that engine in the lineup, but it will also make their airplanes fly faster than 120 knots (oh, the humanity!).

Also, the weight limit increase would make it easier to install chutes and other safety devices in some aircraft.

I'm guessing we will see something from the FAA on this but probably nothing wholesale. My best guess is that they would allow safety equipment weights (e.g., chutes and air bag belts, possibly AOA also) to be excluded from the gross weight computation provided all the other parameters are met. I'm hopeful that we will see more ... and it's just as likely that we will see nothing or nothing for a while. I believe that there is a substantial group at the FAA who thinks "if you want heavier or better-performing aircraft, get a PPL and a medical." This bunch probably thinks that between BasicMed and Part 23 consensus standards they have done enough...

So it will be interesting to see how this comes out.

Cheers

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby dstclair » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:44 pm

There is an already established process for bring into JAR-VLA/CS-VLA certified planes into the US via AC23-11. The aircraft ends up certified with a Standard Airworthiness Certification, Special Class in the US.

VLA's can be certified up to 750kg/1654 lbs, have a controllable prop and a slightly higher stall speed in landing config (45 kts). They are restricted to day VFR and would require a PP or higher to fly. You could add night and IMC by using a 14 CFR part 33 engine and a 14 CFR part 35 prop. I have no idea why companies like Tecnam who have a VLA certified aircraft haven't gone down this path. Perhaps, it is still too costly?
Last edited by dstclair on Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby 3Dreaming » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:07 pm

CFR part 33 covers engines.

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby dstclair » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:09 pm

thanks -- typo on my part.
dave

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby dstclair » Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:21 pm

Pretty easy structurally to just change the definition of "Light Sport Aircraft" in FAR 1.1. Just update (ii) to 750kg, drop 2, and change 4 to be landing configuration and remove 7 then ASTM LSA and JAR-VLA aircraft could be flown by an SP. Politically, not so easy :D

Light-sport aircraft means an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:
(1) A maximum takeoff weight of not more than--
(i) 660 pounds (300 kilograms) for lighter-than-air aircraft;
(ii) 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or
(iii) 1,430 pounds (650 kilograms) for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
(2) A maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (VH) of not more than 120 knots CAS under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level.
(3) A maximum never-exceed speed (VNE) of not more than 120 knots CAS for a glider.
(4) A maximum stalling speed or minimum steady flight speed without the use of lift-enhancing devices (VS1) of not more than 45 knots CAS at the aircraft's maximum certificated takeoff weight and most critical center of gravity.
(5) A maximum seating capacity of no more than two persons, including the pilot.
(6) A single, reciprocating engine, if powered.
(7) A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller if a powered aircraft other than a powered glider.
(8) A fixed or autofeathering propeller system if a powered glider.
(9) A fixed-pitch, semi-rigid, teetering, two-blade rotor system, if a gyroplane.
(10) A nonpressurized cabin, if equipped with a cabin.
(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.
(13) Fixed or retractable landing gear for a glider. ]
dave

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Re: Is raising the S-LSA gross weight a priority for EAA?

Postby dstclair » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:01 pm

This would not be about changing LSA in terms of what is the ASTM standard but adding the ability of an SP to fly a European VLA aircraft. LSA is a definition that incorporates S-LSA, E-LSA and certain type certified aircraft. Expanding the Light Sport Aircraft definition would be an easy mechanism to allow what you mentioned (although the weight would need to be pushed up around 50lbs to get most 150/152 class aircraft).
dave


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