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Old 07-03-2008, 02:18 PM
eric_mtrialsguy eric_mtrialsguy is offline
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Talking Helicopter and LSA

I would like to express my opinions on the exclusion of helicopters from LSA(Light Sport Aircraft) criteria. I would also like to see how the general public views this exclusion in terms of agreeing or disagreeing, as to find the holes in my argument! Sorry for the length- I'll try and state everything as clear as possible. Thanks for reading!

The FAA designed the LSA category to specifically, but not exclusively, exclude helicopters from being piloted by people who qualify for LSA. When I asked why they exclude helicopters from LSA, representatives from the FAA stated with the unconvincing reply, simply that helicopters are too complicated in terms of mechanical understandability.

I completely disagree with the FAA. I do NOT disagree with the argument that helicopters are mechanically involved, but I do not believe that this is a fair, reasonable, or perhaps even the real reason helicopters are excluded from LSA. Here is the reason I believe this to be true~

The LSA category allows and grants people who believe that they may not be able to pass the FAA standard flight medical, their right to have access to the skies, just as everyone else can. Other than a handful of flight restrictions to fit the LSA category, and the fact that one does not need to possess a flight medical, one still has to demonstrate an acceptable mode of competency and proficiency in an LSA aircraft- similar to someone who holds an actual private license.

My argument and opinion is this~ Are helicopters less mechanically complicated to those who hold flight medicals? The fact is, people are now able to fly fixed wing LSA with a passenger over the same terrain(with exception of certain airspace, and at night) as someone with a private rating- arguably, with a little less training and NO flight medical. IF the LSA technical and oral training is similar to that of a private pilots course, with the exception of a few regulatory restrictions(meaning NON technical and mechanical differences, because everyone is equally subjected to a standard, theoretically), THEN we can deduce that the FAA acknowledges within their governing demographic, that helicopter training and education, in terms of mechanical comprehension of helicopters, is not satisfactory nor safe for the average person. They will not even allow a TRAINED LSA 'helicopter' pilot to operate one in the SAFE LSA environment! If anything, it seems like the LSA category was made to perfectly fit the piloting duties of a helicopter pilot! In the LSA environment, a helicopter pilot does not have to deal with the dangers of single engine night flying, distractions by controlled airspace, light-gun signals, etc- Is the FAA also stating that a non current private helicopter pilot can not fly helicopters under LSA because helicopters are too complicated? What? The technical knowledge between the theoretical private helicopter pilot, and LSA helicopter pilot is similar- with the main exception being that one has a medical, and one does not, respectively. They openly say that helicopters are too complicated, knowing that the only difference between LSA and the private course is REGULATORY, not technical! To me, this reeks of bureaucratic nonsense!

As long as someone has a valid drivers license, they can fly LSA- However, if one has failed the FAA medical for ANY reason, you can not fly anything but an ultralight! Well, our FAA is playing, 'hear no evil- see no evil' with our lives! They will let someone fly over my friends and family with a serious, undiagnosed heart problem(as long as they hold a drivers license), but they will NOT let someone who has failed the flight medical due to a color vision issue even attempt an LSA license! This is absolutely ridiculous and only one small example of the flaws within the FAA's reasoning behind some of their regulations. I believe it is this lack of logical decision making and mindless inductive reasoning that is spilling over into the exclusion of helicopters from LSA.

Let's educate, not regulate! Let's subject LSA helicopter pilots to the same training as Private helicopter pilots. Oh wait, people with medicals are smarter, thus possessing the ability to comprehend and pilot helicopters way better. Almost forgot! Thanks FAA!!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to tare me apart! These are just my deductive opinions and thoughts derived from certain facts that just don't add up!

Last edited by eric_mtrialsguy; 07-03-2008 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 07-03-2008, 05:18 PM
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PW_Plack PW_Plack is offline
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Eric, I won't argue with the arbitrary nature of LSA, especially when Sport Pilots are allowed to fly gyroplanes, yet gyroplanes are not allowed to be LSAs, even though the additional scrutiny would arguably make them safer and more uniform.

In the case of helicopters, remember that the simplicity also applies to maintenance and repair. An LSA helicopter could be tinkered with by anyone who's taken a cursory repairman's course. I believe this may be part of the issue.
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Last edited by PW_Plack; 07-03-2008 at 08:02 PM.
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Old 07-03-2008, 05:34 PM
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Travis,
I agree. Thats why I do!
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:56 PM
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Default medical issues for LSA

This is a twist that I think is worth discussing because it pops up quite a bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eric_mtrialsguy View Post
The LSA category allows and grants people who believe that they may not be able to pass the FAA standard flight medical, their right to have access to the skies, just as everyone else can.
I'm afraid that might not be quite right. The FAA logic is a little strange here, but there's a difference between what people get away with and what the FAA intends. As I read all their material, it looks to me that the FAA views the use of a medical vs. a drivers license (or no certification at all for balloons or gliders) to be a question of what proof of your fitnesses you must carry. They do not (so far as I can tell) view it as a lowering of the standards for medical fitness.

Even if a certificate is not required for you, you are still subject to FAR 61.23 (c) (2) iv and 61.53 (b) ("shall not act as pilot ... while that person knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make the person unable to operate the aircraft in a safe manner").

Here's the big question: is it possible to have reason to believe that you would flunk a medical, but still believe that you can operate in a safe manner? I think most pilots might think yes, but I also think the FAA might very well say no. If there is ever an accident, I'd bet that the FAA will say that your knowledge that you might flunk a medical is the same thing as knowledge that you are unable to operate in a safe manner. This explains why if you actually flunk a medical, you can't use your driver license after that; the FAA sees it as establishing a known reason that you can't fly safely.

This stuff usually makes no difference because accidents due to medical issues are incredibly rare. My prediction, however, is that if anybody has a known condition that they suspect might disqualify them for a medical certificate, but they continue to fly as a sport pilot (or in a glider or balloon) and have an accident due to the medical condition, the FAA will drop the axe on them without hesitation. And you can bet that insurance companies and plaintiff's lawyers will be singing the same tune.
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Old 07-04-2008, 04:52 AM
Dean_Dolph Dean_Dolph is offline
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It seems that when LSA is discussed then the sport pilot license is always brought into the conversation. And it is difficult to leave out one when discussing the other; especially when they were implemented at the same time. I believe it was the EAA that approached the FAA about implementing the sport pilot ruling which led to LSA; LSA being a limiting factor in terms of aircraft performance and thus pilot performance expectations.

The major reason for these two rulings was to make an attempt to rejuvenate an interest in aircraft ownership and bring in new pilots by means of reducing the cost of entry. Iíll let others debate whether that has been successful.

So, while it was probably fairly (donít know for sure; wasnít privy to the process!) easy to define the sport pilotís license; it was more than a little complicated when it came to defining LSA specifications. And then developing the criteria that had to be met in order to meet those specifications. The ASTM consensus standards committees were the result.

I suspect that the FAA came to the conclusion that getting industry consensus standards for helicopters wasnít viable because of the complexity of the construction. And if it hadnít been for a couple of PRA leaders interfacing with the FAA, gyroplanes would have been left out of the ruling also. And while I canít speak for the PRA leaders, it appears that they agree with the FAA on helicopters or they would have made an effort to get the heli included. Maybe they did but I havenít heard about it if they did.

While experimental amateur built aircraft owners are granted a repairmanís certificate, the thought obviously was that with LSA we now have an industry consensus certified aircraft that requires a greater understanding of maintenance procedures and their importance. I suspect that the FAA believes that helicopters are too mechanically complex for a LSA repairmanís certificate course. And to my untrained eye, I believe that is probably true and Justinís statements seem to back that up.

But, if we can split out the sport pilot license for a moment and address Ericís question on why a sport pilot (he doesnít state it but that looks like what he is getting at) canít fly a helicopter then we have a different situation to discuss.

The one sport pilot limitation or non-limitation, if you want to look at it like that, is the fact that a sport pilot isnít required to pass a FAA mandated physical. This is the most discussed and cussed part of the ruling.

In my mind, a FAA mandated physical for non-commercial pilots doesnít make any sense and never has. So, I support that part of the rule and would like to see it expanded to cover all non-commercial pilots.

There isnít a M.D. in the world that will guarantee that a person, after passing every test in the book, wonít develop a medical problem immediately on leaving their office. And since that is the case then why require the FAA physical?!! As Mr. Stark has stated, every pilot, FAA medical carrying or not, is required to self certify that to the best of their knowledge, he/she is physically capable of acting as PIC before every flight, period!

If a person, like me, accepts this thinking, then it makes sense that a sport pilot should be allowed to fly a helicopter whether it is LSA or not. And Eric gets what he, and probably others, want.
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  #6  
Old 07-04-2008, 11:47 AM
eric_mtrialsguy eric_mtrialsguy is offline
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Default Good point!

Now I'm starting to see a little clearer how people are viewing LSA. I suppose I would still like to pose these thoughts and questions:

If the reason for LSA was to simplify aviation, by restricting those who qualify to the simplest form of aircraft and regulation, then that assumes it is understood that aviation in general is relatively complicated- thus the reason for restricting and suppressing certain flight duties and responsibilities.

Dean, you make a great point with the fact that it can be assumed that if one possesses a valid drivers license, that they are assumed to be in good enough health to operate a vehicle; however, I believe that the mandated medical simply keeps the honest people honest. Not everyone with a drivers License is honest. The FAA knows this.

Why would the FAA combat the complications of flight in general with lesser requirements? They KNOW that everyone is not honest about their health. So many people are fighting with the FAA about not being able to pass their medical, while some don't even try. Now, the FAA suddenly says that everyone who possesses a valid drivers license can fly LSA, as long as one has not failed the flight medical exam. This takes the responsibility away from the FAA if something goes wrong. OF COURSE those who were afraid to take their medical will fly! Otherwise, why wouldn't people just get their medical and fly experimental, if this were the case? They would be entitled to fly anything they wanted, cheap or not. If one is assumed to be able to pass the FAA medical, then LSA is nothing but a highly restricted general aviation category. I guess I have nothing to be flustered about! Helicopters are not really the ones being screwed here. The people who are being dooped are the ones who can hold a medical(theoretically everyone in LSA?), so they will settle for something much more restricted, LSA. Everyone kind of wins, except for rotor wing pilots~ for now!!

The fact is, LSA allows people to be openly dishonest about their medical.

With this said, it seems like LSA could very well be the 'Trojan horse' of fixed wing general aviation. We know that LSA is much restricted compared to general aviation. It seems like a great place to push general aviators, then exploit the ones who are truly not healthy enough to fly, and pull the 'drivers license' rule right out from under them. If this happens, general aviation would now be LSA.

It seems like this can go both ways, though. If the FAA doesn't know about health restrictions with LSA aviators, then they can ignore it, giving the public the benefit of the doubt. If it becomes a problem, then they will pull the drivers license deal, or the entire LSA program. Either way, this situation creates lots of fuel and momentum for the FAA to be validated in their actions to do anything they want. Helicopters will stay the same.

Last edited by eric_mtrialsguy; 07-05-2008 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:24 AM
eric_mtrialsguy eric_mtrialsguy is offline
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I'm sorry; I read my last post, and it sounds as though I'm against LSA- which I am not. I am very pro LSA. I simply don't trust the FAA's intentions, seeing how hard it was for people in general aviation to fight the bureaucrats just to get to the place we are now. What a headache! Truly, I am happy for those who were afraid to take the medical(pass or not), and are flying now! Enjoy the rights you should have had a long time ago! Lets just be careful, that's all.
e
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Old 07-05-2008, 11:36 AM
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One of the biggest issues I see is all the people that seem to be on depression medication these days...

Justin, I'd bet blood pressure is a more common cause for inability to pass an FAA medical, and diagnosed diabetes a close second. Both are modern epidemics, and can be related to obesity. I know that for me, personally, a difference of 5 per cent in my weight can have a major impact on my BP.

I have to observe that if 0.3 per cent of aircraft accidents involve medical incapacitation, (Nall Report, 2007, citing 4 of 1,319 accidents for 2006,) and most or all of those happened to pilots who HAD medical certificates, the difference in public safety between a 3rd class medical and a state drivers license is probably statistically insignificant.

Someone who has a heart attack in freeway traffic is a MUCH bigger danger than someone who has a heart attack at the controls of a small aircraft.
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Old 07-05-2008, 12:14 PM
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Many people take psychiatric medication because they have a chemical imbalance. The medication is not a cure for their condition - they must take it as long as they live, if they want to stay balanced. These people are not mentally unstable as long as they take the pill.

I also think diabetics should be allowed to fly LAS if THEY believe they can do so safely. Nowadays, diabetics are able to control their blood sugar really well with a host of technologies. I don't know the specifics of the case with the CFI you have mentioned, but very rarely do you see a diabetic going into hypoglycemic shock. This CFI is a 2-time idiot - one time for lying on his paperwork and two for letting his blood sugar get out of whack with a student on board.

The way I see it, an LSA plane can do about the same damage as a car going 75 mph. If we allow most everyone to drive a 5000+ lb SUV with 7 passengers at 75 mph, why shouldn't we let the same people fly a 1320 lb plane? I know I know - sick people can stop the car on the side of the road and get help, it's a little harder to stop a plane on the side of the sky.

But I believe we should leave some room for personal responsibility. If we expect non-VFR rated pilots to be smart enough to not into known IMC, why shouldn't we expect people with known medical conditions to be start enough to not fly when their condition might make the flying unsafe.

For that reason, I don't agree that people who know they wouldn't pass even a class III medical shouldn't fly LSA. I don't know what the FAA will do when accidents do happen, but I believe that the limitations of weight and speed of LSA aircraft are there to counteract the increased risk (potential damage to life and property) due to the more lax certification requirements. If I am reading the FAA intentions correctly, they will not punish an LSA pilot who is flying with a condition that is acceptable for driving but not acceptable for class III medical. Unless of course this person knew that he was taking chances - we do punish drunk drivers, right?
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Old 07-06-2008, 11:31 AM
eric_mtrialsguy eric_mtrialsguy is offline
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Yeah, I suppose you guys are right about serious conditions, though I do agree with the personal responsibility statement, hence my statement, 'lets be careful'. I should say, 'responsible'.

I already have my medical and fly helicopters. I am a low time pilot, with only about 105 hours; 45 in an Enstrom f28f, and the balance in the Enstrom 480 turbine. What really frustrated me was the fact that the examiner gave me HELL about border lining a color deficiency. I ultimately passed, but he wanted to fail me do to the difficulty I had successfully reading the color plates. I'm not sure what my next step would have been had I not passed the color portion of the medical. Ultimately, this is why I gave up on fighting the FAA, and turned to materials engineering. I'm not about to place my fate in the hands of the FAA! I could only imagine the feeling of having my medical pulled in the middle of raising a family, buying a home, etc- for something like a questionable color deficiency...It's one thing if I develop a serious potential condition as a commercial pilot, but damn.

Now as an engineering student who is healthy and doesn't want to fight the flight examiner, I still want to fly helicopters for fun. The FAA says that they are too complicated for me.

How about this amendment to LSA for helicopters:

1. Variable pitch allowed only on vertical lift vehicles

2. One additional prop allowed ONLY for purpose of off-setting torque on vertical lift vehicles.

3. Vertical lift vehicles shall possess only a rigid rotor system and the ability to retain no more than 3 main rotor blades, and no less than 3. Anti-torque rotor can only possess 2 blades- (this eliminates the chances of ground resonance, mast bumping, etc.- you would only have to monitor transverse mast torque in autos and harshly loaded conditions. This could be done simply with a panel light. If the light comes on, lessen the load until it goes off)

4. Can possess only (x) amount of moving parts- (X= some number less than the average part count for most helicopters- this would challenge engineering to develop a simpler variation of what already exists! Ah, progression!)

5. 900lbs limit- (or what ever engineering comes up with and sees as reasonable)

6. Highly loaded parts, such as: reduction drives, gear boxes, etc. must meet certified aircraft criteria, except for main and tail rotor hub, rotor mast, tail rotor mast and shaft-(this eliminates current home built helicopters)

7. Parts that are still heavily loaded and exempt from line 6, as well as those non heavily loaded parts, shall have a safety factor of 2 or higher.(this is pretty high even for certified aircraft- may be over kill, but lets just be safe. This will also encourage the use of high quality materials to help keep weight down)

8. Materials used on production of Highly loaded parts must be well understood, ie, not experimental such as matrix additives to aid in the transfer of loading within composite materials, etc. Materials must be able to be predicted using finite element techniques, and have a predictable life cycle.

9. All devices giving the pilot operational control of the helicopter of any kind shall be mechanical only.

10. All moving and highly loaded parts shall possess chip detectors and/or strain gages correlating to panel lights within plain view of the pilot in the cabin of the aircraft.(It's simple, if the light comes on, you can't fly the aircraft)

11. If a strain or chip light is illuminated on a main structural component, that component must be serviced by its manufacture before further operation of the vehicle.

12. Rotor craft shall use FAA approved power plants for standard LSA.

13. Vertical lift vehicles shall have skids, not wheels.

14. Vertical lift vehicle manufacturer must sign off the pilot, owner, or operator in a mechanical and systems comprehension course before the sale is completed.

Well, I could think of a million things as I go. This concept would allow us to fly, without effecting fixed wing LSA.
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Old 07-06-2008, 11:34 AM
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If you had not passed the color charts, you could talk to local FAA office about a waiver for the color vision test. Basically consists of going the ramp with the FAA and they will point the light gun at you and you the FAA what color they shooting. Basically red, green and white,
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Old 07-06-2008, 02:01 PM
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Mike Schallmann Mike Schallmann is offline
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Jeff is right-My son in law is color blind --but he was given the light test by the FAA and he was able to distinguish between the colors and passed --he has had his PPSEL for 10 yrs now--
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