MOSAIC Rulemaking Package Detailed by FAA Administrator

August 8, 2019   |   Experimental Aircraft Association

In his final “Meet the Administrator” address as acting head of the FAA, Dan Elwell announced details on MOSAIC, a sweeping reform of special airworthiness certification that includes greatly anticipated reforms to the light-sport aircraft category, amateur-built aircraft, and other major benefits for the legacy general aviation fleet.

In his remarks, which took place during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019, Elwell pulled the curtain back on MOSAIC, the next big thing in aircraft certification. He acknowledged the progress made in recent years with rulemaking on new standards for Part 23 aircraft and new policies to allow safety-enhancing equipment in light GA aircraft and then said those initiatives “are just warmups for MOSAIC.”

Addressing light-sport aircraft, Elwell announced that LSA will have an increased weight and up to four seats so that, as he put it, “Instructors can now have some margin when flying with guys like me who like our bratwurst.” He also added that electric powerplants will be permissible, which has long been a goal for EAA, along with providing for other emerging technologies.

For amateur-built aircraft, Elwell hinted at reforms that may alter the requirements for how well-proven kit planes can be constructed and flown, perhaps even without the “experimental” moniker. EAA has been clear that traditional amateur building privileges must always be held sacrosanct amid any reforms, and any new alternatives would be optional for those who wish to pursue them.

Finally, Elwell announced a very exciting prospect for the legacy fleet. For older aircraft not being used for commercial purposes, owners will be able to exchange the standard airworthiness certificate for a special airworthiness certificate — similar to certificates held by experimental aircraft. “That means the owner will be able to install lower-cost, safety-enhancing equipment — the kind that is widely available for the experimental market — without an STC or 337.” Such a change would also have the potential to expand the ability to substitute for parts that are no longer available, and perhaps even the ability for owners to perform additional maintenance on their aircraft.

For this category, Elwell noted that there would likely be “tradeoffs,” such as not flying for compensation or hire and not flying in Canada. EAA is working to understand this last point better, as Canada has a program for its legacy fleet that eases maintenance and equipment burdens as well.

Elwell did not announce a date for the proposed rule to be released, but promised that it would be “worth the wait.” He went on to say that as always, the FAA’s priority is safety, and the GA community needs to be focused on this year’s higher-than-usual accident rate. Nevertheless, his remarks were received as exciting news for the future of GA certification and aircraft ownership.

Elwell’s visit came the day after the Senate confirmed his successor, Steve Dickson. Elwell announced that he would be returning to the deputy administrator role, which he held prior to the retirement of Michael Huerta last year. EAA looks forward to working with the new administrator and is grateful for the strong working relationship with Elwell as the acting administrator over the last several months.

In a first for an administrator in recent memory, Elwell arrived in Oshkosh by light general aviation, landing at EAA AirVenture in an FAA staffer’s Beechcraft Baron. Elwell called AirVenture “the perfect marriage of innovation and passion” and an event that is “able to embrace the next big thing while never forgetting where we came from.”