October 7 ,2004
To: US Department of Transportation
Docket Management System
400 7Th Street SW
Washington, DC, 20591-0001
Federal Aviation Agency
Office of Rule Making
800 Independence Ave.
Washington, DC. 20591
Enclosed find a petition from ASC, EAA, USUA, and the NAPPF, titled, Petition For Exemption From Federal Aviation Regulation Part 103.1(e)(1) To Permit Members Of Aero Sports Connection, The Experimental Aircraft Association, United States Ultralight Association, And The North American Powered Parachute Federation, To Conduct Flight Activities In Ultralight Vehicles That Exceed 254 Pounds Empty Weight Due To The Addition Of Safety Equipment Outside Of The Current Scope Of Part 103.1(e)(1).
This letter is to explain briefly the history of Ultralight flying and some of the many factors involving this multi faceted sport, as related to FAR 103. Also, to point out some operational peculiarities, and the intent of the petition.
Powered aircraft that were compliant under FAR 103, as of 1982 evolved from at least
two different cultures. The first being hang gliders which were equipped with a self-launch power unit. The second being homebuilt airplanes, that fell with in the parameters of FAR 103. These aircraft were for the most part equipped with engines, derived
from chainsaws, gokarts, and small industrial engines.
These engines were of marginal power output, and required to be run at full power most of the time. This resulted in unreliable operation. Most of these engines are no longer in production.
Eventually, larger snowmobile type engines became available. These engines develop
enough power that they can be operated at lower power settings, which results in greatly
increased reliability. These engines have also evolved into more reliable engines, based
on 20 some years of evolution, on their own.
The use of these more reliable engines has mandated an increase in structure to accommodate the increased weight of the engines. Also, the installation of other safety related devices as
brakes, better landing gear, self-starters, and basic instruments, have added some weight,
without increasing performance or range.
These improvements have resulted in a much safer and sturdier aircraft. These aircraft while simple in design and construction, are more sophisticated than at first appears.
This is especially true of the weight shift and autogyro.
In addition, new engines are appearing, which are of the 4-cycle design, meeting national emission standards. These particular engines are of suitable horsepower for 103 type aircraft, but weigh more than the older 2 cycle engines.
Because of limited oversight, those not intimately involved, would not be aware of the cultures and many different conditions, in which these aircraft operate. The use of these
aircraft, includes social events as much actual flying.
The recent enactment of Sport Pilot and LSA regulations, have created a hardship on
owners operating under FAR 103, exceeding 254 pounds empty weight, but otherwise compliant.
This new regulation requires these aircraft to be registered as ELSA aircraft, and the pilots to be certified as Sport Pilots. The cost of complying with this regulation is
prohibitive, considering the use of these aircraft. The cost will surely amount to many hundreds of dollars annually, including annual state fees. In addition, some states restrict the flying of registered aircraft from private land not approved as an airport, where as, FAR 103 Vehicles are exempt.
Due to the low speeds of these aircraft, they can become a hazard in the traffic mix of higher speed aircraft and the fact that adding the weight of additional fuel as per FAR 91.151, could become a structural issue, these aircraft are best operated under FAR 103, as presently.
In addition, because of light wing loading, most are operated only during early morning
and late afternoon hours.
To operate within the restrictions of FAR 103 is the desire of many owners.
This study would in no way deter a Ultralight pilot from becoming a Sport Pilot and
availing themselves of its many benefits.
There is only anecdotal data at present, as to the safety record of these aircraft. This study will result in valuable data, which can be used by the insurance industry to rate this category of aircraft and the FAA.
We are asking to conduct a Safety Study, per our petition.
We believe that the data derived from this study, will show that these aircraft, are indeed
as safe as other categories of aircraft. These aircraft have been operating at the weights
asked for in the petition, for many years, with no apparent adverse results. In fact the FAA has already broken this ground by approving Exemptions, 5001F, and 4610.
These exemptions, which have expired, were for special equipment for operation by disabled pilots. The extra weight allowed was 96 pounds, or a cap of 350 pounds total.
This is the weight we are asking for in our petition, 330 pounds plus 24 pounds for the Ballistic parachute. This petition will replace the expired disabled pilot exemptions, 5001F, and 4610.
Also, there are many small manufactures and kit suppliers of these aircraft in the US. To regulate these manufactures out of business will have an adverse effect on the economy and the sport, by eliminating the availability of reasonable priced aircraft in this category.
It is the promise of an inexpensive aircraft, which gains the interest of many new to the sport, initially. These individuals, very frequently go directly to a higher rating, and a higher performance aircraft. Many will go on to the ranks of Sport Pilot, and some will advance to GA.
It may be said by some, that Sport Pilot would be better served by the absorption of these
aircraft into its ranks. This is very short sighted thinking. Since these otherwise compliant 103 aircraft can be registered as XLSA, they could be legally flown with a much higher fuel load, and at a gross weight of 1320 pounds. Most of these aircraft were designed for gross weights up to 650 pounds. This is indeed encouraging a dangerous practice.
This study will incur a negligible cost to the FAA.
This study will create a documentation of ultralight aircraft as spelled out in AC 103-7,
which has not been accomplished to this date.
On behalf of all the Ultralight flyers, ASC, EAA, USUA, and NAPPF, I am submitting this petition for your consideration.
Richard H. Carrier
4234 4th S.
St Petersburg, Florida 33705
Member, ASC, EAA, USUA,
Private Pilot, A&P.
October 7, 2004