OSHKOSH, Wisconsin—A significant change is expected in what defines the FAA’s light sport aircraft (LSA) category—a change that could add tens of thousands of aircraft to the ranks, EAA chairman and CEO Jack Pelton said here during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.                                                                       

Other proposed changes would allow light sport aircraft operators to perform aerial work for commercial use, such as for forestry surveys or pipeline control.

The Experimental Aircraft Association’s goal is to expand and grow aviation, Pelton said.

“One way is to expand the types of aircraft that could be flown in the LSA category,” he said.

The EAA has been in conversations with the FAA for about two years to gauge interest and a path forward.

The good news is that the FAA is interested, Pelton said.

Whether a new regulation would still be based on a cap on weight at a higher level or by historical performance has yet to be determined, Pelton said.

But a change could include aircraft such as the Cessna 150 or possibly a Cessna 172, which have a heavier takeoff weight than current rules allow for the LSA classification, he said.

“I would call it a breakthrough,” Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) President and Chairman Dan Johnson said.

The request is for the FAA to consider the aircraft and its performance parameters rather than weight, Johnson said.

The FAA asked LAMA a year ago to assemble a business case. The organization presented a program and submitted white papers to the FAA, which has listened to what has been asked, Johnson said.

The EAA would like to see electric aircraft also included in the light sport category. Johnson said the hope is that the FAA would also allow some changes regarding rotorcraft.

A rule change is three to five years away, Johnson said. In the meantime, the FAA may allow temporary changes to allow LAMA to obtain the data the FAA needs for a permanent change, Johnson said.

“Everybody wins,” he said.

Pelton expects that within a year the FAA will submit a rule out for public comment.

Under today’s FAA regulations, aircraft defined as light sport aircraft must have a maximum gross takeoff weight of 1,320 lb., or 1,430 lb. for seaplanes; a single engine and other requirements.

Other regulations pertaining to the light sport category would still pertain.