Experimenter

JAN 2015

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

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EAA Experimenter 33 of fl ight instructors that has not been alleviated by the current letter of deviation authority (LODA) program. It is intended to enable fl ight instruction in some experimental amateur-built aircraft, but geographical and temporal limitations and the restriction to legacy aircraft has rendered the LODA inef ec- tive. EAA staf members recognize the problem and they are working on ways to improve the LODA. AIRVENTURE 2014 DATA We also reviewed the results from EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014 and made suggestions for AirVenture 2015. In 2014, 122 ultralight and LSA pilots registered to fl y from the ultralight runway (down from 142 in 2013). But we sold a lot more fuel and total attendance was up 13 percent. The total count of operations in the Fun Fly Zone was similar to last year at 2,000-plus. Our exhibitors gave 222 waivered adult rides, 51 rides to minors, and 19 Make-A-Wish rides. There were 40 rotorcraft pilots who gave 238 adult rides and 119 youth rides. There were 23 forums with 829 attendees and 10 workshop sessions with 350 attendees. We also added evening programs, including a slide show, movie night, music jam session, and an ultralight party. The Friday evening Valdez STOL demonstra- tion was very popular, drawing an extra 2,000 spectators to the Fun Fly Zone. That group has stated it wishes to return in 2015. The Saturday 5K run brings in thousands of people who might not otherwise visit our area at the south end of the fi eld. Once they see what we're doing, they will understand why we call it the Fun Fly Zone. EL EC TRIC AVIATION REPORT The council looked at many issues during our meetings; but I learned much from our look into electric aviation, and I want to share my impressions in more depth. Many people believe electric aviation will become practical in ultralights before the rest of general aviation because of lower weights and speeds of ultralights, and thanks to their simpler regulations. Electric fl ying could bring a new surge of activity in ultralights just as it did for remote-controlled models. Unfortunately, slow- moving regulations are holding us back. Electric ultralights need a battery weight allowance to become marketable and popular. An opinion from FAA's legal department has asserted that for the purposes of ultralight regulation, batteries are not fuel. Presumably that makes bat- teries part of the airframe or engine. It is unfair that gaso- line-powered ultralights can have 30 pounds extra on board for fuel but electric ultralights cannot. An advisory circular or exemption request for that amount would kick-start elec- tric aviation. A 30-pound allowance doesn't sound like much; but it's based on a solid rationale, and every little bit of weight helps. Most legal-weight electric ultralights today can barely fl y 30 minutes, making them desirable only for ultralight soar- ing. The council viewed an informal list of about 15 currently known electric projects. In 2014, Chip Erwin became the fi rst person to fl y an elec- tric ultralight into a major fl y-in when he fl ew his Zigolo elec- tric motorglider the short hop from South Lakeland Airport to the Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In & Expo at Lakeland Linder Airport. Unfortunately, experts on aviation regulations feel pretty strongly that this is not a good time to either ask the FAA for changes to FAR 103 or request an exemption unless we're pretty sure it has a good chance of being accepted. Prior refus- als tend to raise the bar for the next request. An exemption request needs a well-thought-out rationale and must show concern for public safety along with details about how the exemption would be administered. There is a potential threat of losing some privileges (such as when and where we can fl y ultralights) if we push the admittedly beleaguered agency. The Ultralight Council will continue to consider ways to promote electric ultralights. Sport pilots can't fl y electric aircraft (except for ultra- lights) because they are restricted to reciprocating engines. The wording in the sport pilot rule was intended to prevent sport pilots from fl ying turbines and jets, but it unintention- ally prohibits electric power as well. Only a few words need to be changed, but it could still take two to three years to accom- plish. It might come with pressure from manufacturers once they are allowed to sell electric special light-sport aircraft in the United States. Even though ASTM standards have been accepted for electric aircraft overseas, electric LSA cannot be sold in the United States because of FAA concerns about containment or prevention of lithium-battery fires. For now, FAA wants to see a prohibitively heavy, steel fireproof box. It's not exclu- sively an aviation problem. The entire world uses recharge- able lithium batteries in everything from smartphones to transportation, and there is tremendous impetus to solve the fire problem. HOMEBUILT AVIATION TO THE RESCUE Fortunately, the future of electric aviation depends on the proven creative abilities of the homebuilt aircraft move- ment. Private pilots (or those with higher ratings) building experimental amateur-built electric aircraft are where we can expect to see the most progress in electric fl ight. They are almost the only ones who can do it right now, with ultralights somewhat sandbagged by the lack of a fuel allowance. Private pilots, such as ultralight pilots, do not need any special train- ing to fl y electric aircraft and shouldn't need to take of with the fuel contained in the equivalent of a fi reproof steel safe. Please send your comments to dangrunloh2@gmail.com . Power up! Dan Grunloh, EAA 173888, is a retired scientist who began fl ying ultra- lights and light planes in 1982. He won the 2002 and 2004 U.S. National Microlight Championships in a trike and fl ew with the U.S. World Team in two FAI World Microlight Championships.

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