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FAA writing rules for electric aircraft, to allow public to fly them in the next decade

Michael Gorman, @Numeson
April 27, 2012
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There are those in the general aviation community who think electric planes are the future for private aircraft, but regulatory hurdles are in place preventing them from proliferating in our skies. You see, current FAA requirements for light sport aircraft (LSA) -- planes that can be flown by anyone with a pilot's license -- preclude electric powerplants, and that makes such planes unavailable to most private pilots. Well, today at the CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium, FAA analyst Tom Gunnarson delivered some good news for flying EV advocates, stating that the FAA has completed its regulatory study on electric aircraft, and the rulemaking process will begin soon. Once those rules have been written, electrically-propelled aircraft will be available for use as LSA by the public, which isn't possible today given their current status as experimental craft. The bad news? Governmental wheels spin slowly, and Gunnarson said that incorporating those new rules into the current regulatory framework will take five years if we're lucky, but ten years is a more likely time frame for the FAA to finish. In the meantime, you'll have to settle for air shows or terrestrial transport to get your EV fix.

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