Rich WalendaParticipantJanuary 14, 2024 at 10:05 amPost count: 1
Currently, the FAA is accepting comments to the Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification proposed rule. I have not seen any comments from SSA regarding those proposed changes and very little comments from the public regarding gliders.
The FAA has had a sport pilot glider license available for 20 years. The Soaring Society of American has not written much about the sport pilot certificate and appears to avoid the topic of sport pilot. The SSA states that they are trying to grow the glider and sailplane sport but are not actively encouraging existing airplane pilots to get a sport pilot add on that only requires a CFI to do the “check ride” instead of a DPE.
The FAA reports that 70 light sport gliders are registered. The FAA does not report how many glider sport pilots are in the USA. There are about 7000 sport pilots but the FAA does not report glider and airplane pilots separately.
I have copied some of the proposal that pertains to gliders (the term sailplane is not in the proposal). Here are the important parts regarding gliders:
3. Maximum VH Airspeed in Level Flight
The § 1.1 definition of light-sport aircraft limits light-sport aircraft to a VH of not more than 120 knots CAS under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level. A VH speed limit would not be retained for the airplanes or gliders in the proposed § 61.316 performance and design limitations for aircraft that a sport pilot could operate.
For pilot certification purposes, the FAA does not propose to retain or include a VH airspeed limitation in the proposed § 61.316 aircraft performance limitations because the FAA determined that, the proposed maximum stalling speed VS1 of 54 knots (as explained in section IV.C.4) for airplanes and the existing maximum stalling speed VS1 of 45 knots for gliders, will indirectly limit the cruise airspeeds  for the aircraft that sport pilots may fly under the proposed performance limitations in part 61.
The light-sport aircraft definition in § 1.1 limits the maximum VS1 for light-sport aircraft to 45 knots CAS at the aircraft’s maximum certificated takeoff weight and most critical center of gravity. The proposal would retain the 45 knots CAS maximum VS1 for gliders and weight-shift-control aircraft. The FAA is proposing to increase the maximum VS1 to 54 knots CAS for airplanes.
The proposed rule would retain the current maximum seating capacity of not more than two persons for other classes of light-sport aircraft, including, gyroplanes, gliders, weight-shift control aircraft, powered parachutes, balloons, and airships.
6. Engine and Motors (If Powered)
The current § 1.1 light-sport aircraft definition limits light-sport aircraft to those with a single reciprocating engine if the aircraft is powered. This requirement from the 2004 rule provided for a simple engine design that would be appropriate for operation by a sport pilot. With the performance expansions proposed in this rule for the design of light-sport category aircraft and the intention to decouple from sport pilot limitations, there is no longer a need to restrict light-sport category aircraft to a single reciprocating engine. This proposed rule would omit the single reciprocating engine limitation as an eligibility requirement in § 22.100. Accordingly, this proposed rule would allow light-sport category aircraft to be built with any number and type of engines or motors. The performance limitations for aircraft that a sport pilot may act as pilot in command of would not include the limitation on a single reciprocating engine if the aircraft is powered.
Since this powerplant limitation was established in 2004, full authority digital engine control (FADEC) technology has evolved significantly. FADEC  automates and simplifies the operation of a turbine powerplant. Today, many turbine-powered aircraft use FADEC automation to manage powerplant performance and simplify aircraft powerplant operations, reducing pilot workload. As a result, many turbine-powered aircraft are no longer directly associated with excessive speed or complexity. Advancements in simplified designs of turbine-engine technology have led to the use of small turbine engines in a variety of aircraft, including self-launching gliders. The FAA recognizes that because of automation, many modern turbine powerplants are now easier to operate than many existing piston-powered aircraft. Modern automated powerplants reduce the complexity previously associated with piloting aircraft that use powerplants other than non-turbine engines.
However, proposed § 61.316, which would provide the performance and design limitations for aircraft that may be flown by sport pilots, would retain some propeller limitations and training requirements for sport pilots. Specifically, for powered aircraft other than powered gliders, proposed § 61.316 would permit sport pilots to fly aircraft with a fixed or ground-adjustable propeller, but also allow those with an automated controllable-pitch propeller. Aircraft with an automated controllable-pitch propeller would enable pilots to take advantage of the improved performance associated with these aircraft without imposing additional workload. The current requirement for powered gliders would be relocated to proposed § 61.316.
Light-sport category aircraft are currently precluded by § 91.327 from conducting operations for compensation or hire, except to tow a glider or an unpowered ultralight vehicle or to conduct flight training. As the proposal would enable aerial work operations, the proposal would revise § 91.327 to permit the conduct of any aerial work operation specified in the aircraft’s pilot operating handbook or operating limitations, as applicable, and specified in the manufacturer’s statement of compliance for that aircraft.
For light-sport category aircraft, the current fuel removal, isolation, and retention provisions specified in the applicable consensus standards vary based on the class of aircraft. For instance, current FAA accepted consensus standards for light-sport category airplanes, gliders, and weight-shift-control aircraft, specify that these aircraft have at least one drain or other available method to allow safe drainage of fuel from tanks. Consensus standards for all light-sport category aircraft except balloons and powered parachutes specify that the aircraft have a control to shut-off fuel as a means of isolation. For light-sport category airplanes, gliders, and weight-shift-control aircraft, the standards specify that the battery installation must withstand all applicable inertia loads. Consensus standards for light-sport category airplanes, gliders, powered parachutes, airships, and weight-shift control aircraft specify that their fuel tanks be able to withstand all applicable inertia loads or prescribed load factors. The FAA anticipates that industry would develop acceptable and appropriate consensus standards for all classes of light-sport category aircraft to comply with the proposed requirement for the removal, isolation, and retention of fuel.
For light-sport gliders, ASTM Standard F2564 provides standards for emergency exit that state the cockpit must be designed so that unimpeded and rapid escape in emergency situations is possible, and, on closed canopies, the opening system must be designed for simple and easy operation. The opening system must function rapidly and be designed so that it can be operated by each occupant strapped in his seat and from outside the cockpit.
Light sport repairman certificates:
The repairman certificate identifies the rating ( i.e., inspection or maintenance) held and the appropriate privileges/limitations of each rating by class, which are set forth by § 65.107(b) through (d), as applicable. For example, if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements and has completed the applicable training for conducting maintenance on the glider class of light-sport aircraft, the repairman certificate would list “Maintenance—glider” in the privileges and limitations section of the airman certificate. Therefore, that person could only exercise the privileges and limitations set forth by § 65.107(c) and (d) on the glider class of aircraft.
1. Aircraft Holding a Special Airworthiness Certificate in the Light-Sport Category
In general, § 91.327 does not currently allow a person to operate an aircraft with a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category for compensation or hire. However, § 91.327(a) does include two exceptions to this general prohibition against operations for compensation and hire: conducting flight training and towing a glider or an unpowered ultralight vehicle in accordance with § 91.309 are both permissible.
The FAA proposes to amend § 91.113(d)(2) and (3) to update the language by replacing the lists of aircraft in paragraphs (d)(2) and (3) with the broader term “powered aircraft.” These proposed amendments remove specific categories to include other powered aircraft not included in the existing rule, as the current rule is too narrow. The new language uses the term “powered aircraft” to include those categories. These amendments clarify the language in § 91.113(d) where aircraft are categorized for the purpose of describing which aircraft has the right-of-way when approaching another aircraft on a converging course. Right-of-way rules maintain the privilege of less maneuverable aircraft to safely proceed with priority over more maneuverable aircraft in the NAS. The proposed § 91.113(d)(2) continues to give gliders right-of-way over powered aircraft. Additionally, the proposed § 91.113(d)(3) continues to give airships right-of-way over all other powered aircraft, except for those powered aircraft that are towing or refueling another aircraft. Balloons will continue to have the right-of-way over any other aircraft category.
There are a few other references to gliders in the proposed rule but the above is the most important.
To some SSA members these changes are not important but the prospect of multi engine self launch gliders, more pilots and changes to the right of way rules can and will affect private and commercial glider pilots. (This requirement from the 2004 rule provided for a simple engine design that would be appropriate for operation by a sport pilot. With the performance expansions proposed in this rule for the design of light-sport category aircraft and the intention to decouple from sport pilot limitations, there is no longer a need to restrict light-sport category aircraft to a single reciprocating engine. This proposed rule would omit the single reciprocating engine limitation as an eligibility requirement in § 22.100. Accordingly, this proposed rule would allow light-sport category aircraft to be built with any number and type of engines or motors.)
Those are big changes and needed to increase safety, growth and innovation regarding gliders. Please support the new proposed MOSAIC rule. Thanks.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.