Ottawa may amend rules to avoid cross-border complications and help kit sales

Transport Canada is considering adapting eight-year-old regulations on ultralight design and operation to comply with slightly different standards adopted this year by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

Left unaddressed, the few discrepancies between the two sets of regulations could complicate procedures allowing cross-border sport pilot flights and sales of home-built aircraft kits, says Denis Brown, chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Canadian Council.

"They want to be able to make it as seamless as possible for Americans flying a light sport aircraft into Canada," says Brown. Transport Canada is "looking at this new category of aircraft in the USA ...and whether we should revisit our existing rules and regulations".

Two committees created after a two-day meeting earlier this month in Ottawa are reviewing options for adapting licensing regulations and aircraft standards to the US model. The committees are scheduled to report their findings in late January, with potential decision-making to follow in May.

A potential conflict is emerging over differences in maintenance standards. Canadian rules for continuing airworthiness allow for owners to maintain their aircraft, whereas the US requires inspections by a certificated maintainer. The US rule is deemed to be "unnecessarily stringent" by the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association of Canada, says Frank Hofmann, who represented the trade body at the Ottawa meeting.

By contrast, there is less opposition to accepting the FAA's broader definition of a light-sport aircraft - namely, any airframe limited to nearly 600kg (1,320lb) maximum weight with a 45kt (83km/h) maximum stall speed. Top weight for a two-seat ultralight in Canada is 480kg. Stall speed is capped at 39kt.

The two-day meeting also included a briefing on the process the FAA used to establish the light- sport aircraft and sport pilot rules. The agency relied on a "consensus" approach, with standards agreed jointly by users, manufacturers, regulators and other interested parties.

The new US rules became effective on 1 September, although the first pilot licences and sport aircraft certificates are not expected to be issued until after 15 January. It may take more than a year before a nationwide infrastructure is established to fully implement the rule.


Source: Flight International