The FAA Warbird Adventures legal decision set off a firestorm of panic and confusion in the aviation community. All this grief originated from a single P-40 operation in Florida. Instead of accurately litigating against a single operator, the FAA legal wizards completely reinterpreted “flight training” contradicting their own published policy and making a whole area of flight operations illegal. CFIs were also caught in the crossfire. The significant immediate result is that >30,000 experimental aircraft (and <100 “primary A/C” and <500 “limited A/C”) become illegal for any dual instruction as of July 12th unless each aircraft has a deviation letter! Downstream consequences for CFIs are still to be determined.
This all resulted from the FAA suddenly redefining flight instruction as “flight for compensation and hire” after years of legal precedent classifying CFIs as “educators only.” When this new legal interpretation is published in the Federal Register on July 12th it becomes law. It will immediately be illegal to teach in experimental, limited, and primary aircraft until you get a LODA. And legal questions are on the table regarding the medical requirements and additional liability of CFIs “flying for compensation and hire.”
SAFE objected to this legal error and the FAA responded on July 8th. Though they tacitly agreed on the historic CFI role, FAA legal continued to define flight instruction as involving flight “for compensation and hire.” All the “alphabets” met on Zoom but it is clear that this error is about to become law July 12th when it is published in the Federal Register – get your flight review this weekend. Pilots of experimental aircraft will be illegal taking flight instruction in an experimental, limited or primary aircraft without a “Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA).” (CFIs conducting flight training in these A/C will also be illegal). Thanks to some dedicate FAA people, a LODA can now be more easily be acquired with a new e-mail system. Each LODA is linked to an aircraft N# A pilot owner or a CFI can apply for a LODA but this exemption is linked to a specific N# like an MEL.
To be clear, the only restriction affects only paid flight training in experimental, primary and limited aircraft categories. Any pilot can still legally fly their plane provided both pilot and plane are legally compliant.
To continue to get training in your experimental the new FAA workaround is a very simple e-mail:
Write to this address: 9-AVS-AFG-LODA[a]faa.gov
Include: name, address, e-mail, pilot certificate number or flight instructor certificate number (if applying as CFI), aircraft registration number (if applying as an owner), aircraft make/model in which you will receive or provide instruction, aircraft home base airport (if applying as an owner). The FAA promises expedited service through the new system.
The bigger issue (long-term effect) on flight training “for compensation and hire” has been obscured by the immediate chaos caused by experimental aircraft dual. SAFE is also focused on the bigger picture of downstream consequences affecting all flight instructors; legal liability and medical . Fly SAFE out there (and often)!
If you are a subscriber to this blog (friend of SAFE) and want to attend our SAFE dinner at Oshkosh, you are invited to join us at the Oshkosh Terminal on Thursday, July 29th from 6-8PM for our SAFE dinner. This is a networking opportunity (after a year of quarantine) and we would love to Meet/Greet/and Eat with you. Tickets are $25 and include; food, drinks, and dessert (also FUN!) We need a few drone pilots too.