FAA Publishes Changes to Sport-Pilot Regulations

On February 1, 2010, FAA published a final rule that amends regulations for sport pilots and flight instructors with a sport-pilot rating. The amendments, which become effective April 2, 2010, address issues with training, qualification, certification, and operating requirements that have arisen since light-sport regulations were first implemented in 2004.  The changes are designed to enhance safety and reflect the operational experience gained since the original regulations became effective. Changes include: removal of the five-hour flight time requirement for sport-pilot flight instructors before providing training in the same make and model of (LSA) light-sport aircraft; revised student sport-pilot solo cross-country requirements; and a new requirement for aircraft owners and operators to retain a record of all applicable LSA safety directives.
FAA reviewed more than 150 comments from pilots and flight instructors and from organizations such as EAA and AOPA, in its consideration of the regulation changes. To view the rule, go to: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-2056.pdf.

Factoring the Human Behind the Machine
As GA aircraft grow more advanced, so do the avionics systems that help keep pilots safe in today’s increasingly complex airspace. The process at the FAA for evaluating and certifying these avionics components is extremely detailed and requires collaboration among several key players. FAA human factors specialists, flight-test pilots, and engineers are all involved in certifying certain avionics products.

Among the areas to consider in the certification process are intuitiveness, reliability, and most important, safety. Everything, from a unit’s button shapes and display colors to its reliability under rigorous testing scenarios, is carefully weighed. In cases where the system is highly integrated, complex, and/or performs critical functions, FAA uses a formal assessment process that involves scenario-based evaluations by multiple pilots.

For more information on how FAA human factors research helps improve GA safety, check out the article “Factoring in the Human in Avionics Certification” in the January/February 2010 issue of FAA Aviation News.
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