Is MOSAIC In Your Future?

The FAA's new proposal to simplify LSA and sport pilot rules expands capabilities and privileges.


Both the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) are hailing the FAA’s late July 2023 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the long-sought MOSAIC initiative. The acronym stands for “Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certificates,” and both organizations have been working with the FAA on it for years.

The proposal would significantly revise upward the pool of aircraft eligible for operation by sport pilots while also expanding the kinds of operations allowed. For example, the 1320-pound weight and 120-knot top speed limits for light sport aircraft (LSA) certification would go away, replaced with a new definition limiting fixed-wing aircraft to a clean stall speed (VS1) of 54 knots calibrated airspeed, a maximum level flight speed (VH) of 250 knots and four seats. A sport pilot would still be limited to only a single passenger, however.

With that definition, sport pilots would be eligible to fly a wide range of non-LSA airplanes. Examples include the Cessna 150/152/170/172 and even those models of the 182 not exceeding the stall-speed limitation. Also, sport pilots could fly retractables, constant-speed propellers and/or complex airplanes after obtaining the appropriate endorsements. The proposal also eliminates the requirement for an LSA to have a single piston engine, opening up the LSA market for electric aircraft and other propulsion systems.

“MOSAIC had its genesis with a conversation between EAA and FAA officials nearly a decade ago, as we focused on safely creating more aviation opportunities for those who wanted to participate,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board. “Now that the NPRM has been released, we are seeing the results of the hard work and effort that EAA and FAA have put into this game-changing rule. We will continue to study it closely and supply focused comments to the FAA.”

The AOPA’s President, Mark Baker, said, “Modernizing the light-sport category for the thousands of our members that fly these aircraft is something we’ve been long pushing for, and it just makes sense. We’re pleased to see the FAA take this first step to help modernize the general aviation fleet and provide more options for pilots.”

‘Safety Continuum’

But what about safety? According to the NPRM, “The FAA views the safety record of light-sport category aircraft operations as validation of the original certification requirements and as support for expanding eligibility for aircraft certification, airmen certifications, and related operating privileges.” 

Also according to the NPRM, “The FAA bases the rigor of certification requirements and operational limitations on a safety continuum that looks at the exposure of the public to risk for each aircraft and operation; as the risk increases due to increased operating privileges and aircraft capability, the requirements and corresponding rigor of requirements and procedures for aircraft and airman certification increase.” When the agency established the 2004 final rule creating the LSA and sport pilot categories, it “intentionally” designed its safety record to fall between normal-category certificated aircraft and experimentals. “The fatal accident rate data compiled since 2011 for these aircraft show that light-sport category aircraft fatal accident rates fall between experimental and normal category aircraft, validating…the 2004 final rule….”

With that in mind, the NPRM also seeks to resolve an issue with restricted category aircraft, change the issuance of special airworthiness certificates for experimentals, add a new experimental purpose for former military aircraft and codify a statutory provision for space support vehicle flights.

The July 27 publishing of the NPRM started a 90-day public comment period, which closes October 23, 2023. A copy of the 90-page document [PDF] is available free for the download from


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