Darkest before dawn? I hear growing concern about FAA’s new Mosaic regulation and what it will or won’t do. An increasing number of comments I hear are variations of these words — “FAA is never going to get this done, and if they do, it will be a crappy rule.” Why so glum? Maybe pilots are frustrated because FAA has delayed the release of Mosaic. This also happened almost 20 years ago with the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft regulation. SP/LSA was anticipated for more than three years after the first announcement. However, Mosaic is coming and this time we know more about it than most regulations. Why? Because FAA must involve ASTM committee members along the way. (More on this? See at end.*) Earlier FAA rule writers did not reveal their work as broadly. Yet FAA is sufficiently pleased with industry consensus standards, ASTM’s work, that they will use it on the next generation of GA aircraft (think: Cessna, Cirrus, etc.).
Here Come the High WingersInterested pilots saw recent coverage of Van's progress on their high wing RV-15. As I reported earlier about RV-15, Van's Aircraft personnel actively work on ASTM standards. This gives their engineers details about what is likely under Mosaic. Everyone is guessing, but informed guesses are better than mere opinions. Naturally, Van's isn't the only company aware of what FAA is planning. Any other company or individual who participates on the ASTM committee can know most of the same information. Indeed, this is where I get most of my knowledge about Mosaic as reported in this video. Just recently Sonex unveiled more about a new kit model. The Oshkosh, Wisconsin company has not done two things: they never sought approval as Special (fully-manufactured) Light-Sport Aircraft — although their kit designs can be flown by an aviator exercising Sport Pilot privileges. Neither has Sonex ever made a high wing design. They're now changing that; here comes "SH." (below) Light aircraft builders in the USA, Europe, Australia, Brazil, and South Africa are preparing aircraft I choose to call Mosaic LSA or mLSA. Let's have a quick look at six new entries.
6 New High WingsBRM Aero — Bristell has become a well-recognized brand, moving up to be one of the top high-end choices in LSA. Despite a diverse line of low wing designs, B8 is new. It will sold in America by Bristell USA. B8 is an all-metal, cantilevered high wing with a steerable nose wheel and 49.2-inch-wide cabin. Like most of the others covered in this article, it can carry more and reflects the industry belief that four seaters — or at least higher weight aircraft — are coming. BRM is ahead of many competitors with their high wing B8 model flying for several months already. This new entry also reflects Milan's son Martin Bristela taking over the business as Dad retires. Jabiru — J230D is a popular design, but one already approved for higher weight operation and with a roomy cabin that can accommodate four occupants… in Australia and some other countries, that is. Importer Scott Severen of US Sport Planes is preparing to offer a more capacious version. He may rename it and they may appoint it in special ways but this is an airplane Americans already fly. What most Yankee pilots don't know is that Jabiru's popular J230-D is a variation of the J-400 sold in Australia as a four seater. As such, it already has a tested gross weight well beyond LSA's 1,320-pound limit. That means the market-proven model is virtually ready for Mosaic and its higher weight allowance. Montaer — This Brazilian MC-01 is available in its home country as a four seat-capable design. It already has a higher weight limit so when Mosaic is released the task should be fairly simple for Montaer to gain FAA acceptance. Recently I flew the Rotax 915iS-powered Montaer MC-01. I hope to report on that exhilarating experience soon but my flight shows the powerful engine is worked out and ready for larger aircraft. A look inside Montaer's MC-01 shows how roomy it is and the design presently comes with a third door more than large enough to permit entry to an aft seat. The Airplane Factory (TAF) — Ahead of almost everyone (other than BRM Aero) is South African producer The Airplane Factory. Many aviators know this producer as they often fly their new design halfway around the globe to show it at AirVenture (before then frequently proceeding to fly the rest of the way around the planet). I reported more about this roomy, four-seat-capable design (it did have four seats at Oshkosh 2022). Here's my airshow article about Sling HW. TAF has already entered the U.S. market as a kit plane and, like all these bigger aircraft with larger engines, Sling HW is not inexpensive (see price estimates in above article). A fully built model will show these are not 1,320-pound present-day Light-Sport Aircraft. Nonetheless, such mLSA will expand the category. Sonex — The Wisconsin kit company's new SH — for Sonex Highwing — has a 42-inch interior cockpit width at the occupants’ shoulders. The fuselage certainly resembles the low wing members of the model line. The company said SH features easy entry and exit and offers a "step-in height" that less flexible or older aviators will appreciate. SH will be easily convertible from dual joysticks to a center-mounted control. Sonex's SH also offers removeable wings and they released new fuel system information and range estimates. SH will carry 30 gallons of fuel. Sonex even boasts that SH will offer aerobatic capability. SH has also been designs to allow aerobatics with two persons on board. Van's — As the world's largest kit aircraft supplier, Van's always commands media attention. When they introduce an all-new, first-ever design, the company can generate many article and videos. Indeed, I wrote this article about RV-15's introduction at Oshkosh 2022. I refer you to a thorough article on RV-15 below so I'll wrap up this review of high wing mLSA to come. However, I am positive the six aircraft just mentioned will not be the only entries. More Available — This article only covered new high wing designs, those that have not yet been seen on the market in the hands of owners. Yet many more high wings are available in the current LSA space. Go to PlaneFinder 2.0 and click the "Wing Position" category to see a long list of high wing LSA and SP kits. Instructions to use PlaneFinder 2.0 are provided via a button on the page. Bigger Yet? — Designs from Flight Design and Tecnam suggest some LSA producers will take this even further with full-size four seater designed expressly for such passenger loads. However, these are not the focus of this website as they may pursue a higher level of government approval than needed for true mLSA types.
More About RV-15 from Flying MagazineA detailed article from our friends at Flying Magazine provides lots more info on Van's new RV-15 high wing. Those keen to know more about RV-15 are encouraged to read Jason McDowell's article. Pilots may believe Mosaic appears a long way off. Indeed, I estimate the rule can't go live before early 2025. In the meantime, as FAA deliberates and as ASTMers create fresh standards, the airframers will keep refining their proposed aircraft. Stay tuned!
- Article on Mosaic, referring to many attendee questions
- Video on Mosaic, from Midwest LSA Expo September 2022 (still very relevant)
- ASTM standards-writing committee (F37 for LSA) — You can join and help!
- Links to all featured companies are available via links at end of article (see "Filed Under")
* In order for ASTM committee members to be ready with industry consensus standards at the same time FAA's Mosaic rule is released for public use (approximately the beginning of 2025), rule writers must keep committee members somewhat informed, at least with regard to the airframe regulation proposals. If they did not, the standards-creating work could only begin once the regulation was released, and then we would have a delay of more months, maybe a year or two. For FAA, this is somewhat new ground. It's unusual for the agency to release this much information about a regulation before they issue it. These things change internally as different FAA departments weigh in, so they usually keep their cards close to the chest until the NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) is near final form. All this relates only to the airframe. A different FAA group handles pilot privileges and who gets to fly what size aircraft with how many people on board. They are much less involved with ASTM committee work. That is why we have much less information about what the agency plans regarding pilot certification or flight operations.