Three general aviation advocacy groups are worried a recent court ruling could mean that safety of flight could take a hit, at least for pilots of Warbirds and other Limited Category historic aircraft. The April 3 decision involved compensation paid for flight training in Limited Category aircraft. The case, Warbird Adventures vs. FAA, “…has created significant confusion and concern in the aviation community regarding the impact of the decision on compensated flight training,” according to a letter sent to the FAA by EAA, AOPA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
The court supported an FAA cease-and-desist letter involving Warbird Adventures restricting the company from operating a Limited Category aircraft for compensated training without a required exemption. The court further expressed in an unpublished opinion (meaning it did not see that the opinion could be used to establish precedence in other cases) that a flight instructor who receives compensation for flight instruction is carrying people, “…for compensation or hire.” But the GA groups nevertheless express concern that the FAA could cite the decision as precedent in the future. They suggest the opinion could prevent Limited Category aircraft owners from receiving training in their own aircraft.
Jack Pelton, EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board, said, “This court decision has led FAA to consider a broad-brush application of the rule that could restrict access to flight training and therefore, negatively affect aviation safety. This is why immediate clarification is so important, to determine how flight training can be provided in Limited Category aircraft as well as the essential flight training in many other categories of aircraft that takes place on a daily basis. We are seeking FAA clarification in three areas: how the agency characterizes flight training, flight instruction in Limited Category aircraft, and flight instruction in other categories of aircraft.”