Sonex Builders & Pilots Foundation
A type club to promote safety and education
in building and operating Sonex aircraft.

 

Obtaining a LODA

To find the information below, in addition to SBPF Member, Michael Farley's tips and suggestions for applying for a LODA, click here

Recently, the FAA and the EAA have begun to realize the importance of transition training for pilots flying amateur built aircraft. With studies indicating the highest chance of an aircraft accident occurring in the first 5-10 hours of flight time, an emphasis has been placed on pilot training so that people may become familiar with their own make and model of airplane prior to flying their own aircraft.

Unfortunately, there are several road blocks which make things difficult for a person to receive transition training in an experimental airplane. Federal Aviation Regulation 91.319 states that no experimental aircraft "is to be used for compensation or hire," as well as FAA Order 8130.2G which provides instructions on experimental aircraft Operating Limitations. In this guidance, a limitation is required to be placed on an experimental airplane which restates FAR 91.319.
This can leave a builder/pilot of a homebuilt airplane in a bit of a problematic situation. Most owners of amateur built aircraft would love to get some flight time in the same make and model airplane they are building or buying, but unless they happen to know someone who is willing to offer free flight time, it's against the regulations to use someone else's airplane for transition training if payment is to be made.

The good news is that with a recent emphasis on safety, it's slowly becoming more commonplace for owners of homebuilt airplanes to team up with flight instructors and obtain FAA permission to provide their airplane for rental, if used for transition training purposes. This permission comes in the form of a Letter of Deviation Authority, or LODA.

Throughout the winter and spring of 2013, Sonex Aircraft, LLC began working on the foundation required in order to apply for their LODA. Obtaining a LODA would allow factory employees, with a flight instructor certificate, to use the company demonstrator aircraft for demonstration rides as well as transition training. The LODA expressly prohibits tailwheel transition and aerobatic training.

Officially released in May 2013, this factory option has proven to be immensely popular, with dozens of satisfied pilots already taking advantage of the Sonex T-Flight program before flying their own Sonex airplanes.

The second phase of this program is to assist builders, owners, and pilots obtain their own LODAs in an effort to create a widespread Sonex flight training network for anyone desiring Sonex flight time. This article will help guide a prospective flight instructor through the required steps in order to obtain their own LODA and begin offering transition training.

FAA guidance for the issuance of a LODA can be found with the FAA 8900.1, Volume 3, Chapter 11. In this document, paragraph 3-293 (C) provides the requirements for a person to apply for a LODA. This paragraph states that "A person applying to conduct flight training in an experimental aircraft which that person provides for compensation or hire must submit an application package to the FSDO in the district in which the training will take place." This application package must include the following:

- A letter that contains the following information:
1. Identifying the name and address of the applicant
2. The name and contact information of the person responsible for the operation
3. Details of the type of training
4. The specific aircraft make(s) and model(s) to be used

- Copies of the following:
1. Each aircraft's airworthiness certificate
2. Each aircraft's operating limitations

- A training program which includes:
1. A description of any audiovisual aid, mockup, chart, aircraft component, and other
                    special training aids used in any ground training (if applicable)
2. A description of each flight simulator used in training (if applicable)
3. A description of any special equipment used for each phase of training
4. Qualifications and ratings for each flight instructor providing training
5. Prerequisites for persons receiving ground or flight training
6. A description of each unit of instruction, including objectives, standards, and planned
                    completion time
7. Expected accomplishments and standards for each stage of training

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it? The Sonex Builders and Pilots Foundation and Sonex Aircraft, LLC are about to make your job much easier! Download a free copy of the joint effort Flight Training Syllabus which meets all of the requirements outlined above from Sonex Builders and Pilots Foundation website. In addition, a template of the required letter needed for the application is also available. Simply fill out the letter with your personal information, download and print off the training syllabus, and make copies of your aircraft airworthiness certificate and operating limitations, and your application package is complete.

Once the FAA has obtained your application package, they will review the information provided to ensure it meets all required standards. Once reviewed, they will ensure all airworthiness requirements are met for the aircraft, and issue the LODA. In most cases, this process will only take a short amount of time and you will be ready to begin flight training in your Sonex aircraft.