Now that the FAA's Third Class Medical Reform has passed and the criteria have been expanded, any thoughts on how this might impact Zenith builds if the builder so chooses (e.g., EAB vs. the LSA limits)? Or how it might affect what your build?

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Zenith kits, such as the STOL CH 750 and CH 750 Cruzer, are typically registered as "Amateur-Built - Experimental" since they are built by their owners, and can be operated by Sport Pilots since they meet the limiting definition of Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). Now, the same aircraft can benefit from their higher gross weight design limits since the owner may no longer need to fly the aircraft as a Sport Pilot and the aircraft may no longer need to meet the definition of an LSA (1,320 lbs. gross weight limit).

Looking to the future, Zenith Aircraft offers a number of two and four seat aircraft models with higher gross weights than the Sport Pilot limit and is therefore well positioned to benefit from the FAA's latest medical reforms.  While a number of the designs can be operated as Light Sport Aircraft, some also have higher design limits which allow for more weight, different engines, more speed and more options:

  • The popular high-wing Zenith CH 750 series (both the STOL and Cruzer models) have design gross weights of 1,440 lbs., 120 pounds more than the 1,320 Sport Pilot (LSA) limit. The higher design gross weight may give the builders and owners of these aircraft instant added utility, giving them the ability to install larger engines, such as the Lycoming O-320, or to legally and safely carry more weight in the aircraft. While most LSA's were designed specifically up to the Sport Pilot category limits (or are “heavy” European microlights), the Zenith CH 750 is designed with a gross weight of 1,440 lbs.

  • Zenith Aircraft's newest model, the redesigned SAM Aircraft, is being introduced at Oshkosh 2016 as the SAM-EX model with a gross weight of 1,800 lbs. (with a 180-hp Lycoming O-360 engine). This is a significant increase from the prototype SAM LS which was designed as a LSA with a 100-hp Rotax 912 engine.

  • The four-seat STOL CH 801 sport utility aircraft was first introduced 15 years ago by Zenair and is still available today as one of few high-wing four-place designs on the kit market today.

  • The four-seat Zenith CH 640 is another all metal Chris Heintz design still available that is another true four-seater, well-suited for first-time builders and low-time private pilots.

  • The CH 2000 FAA-certified production two-seater (developed by Zenair Ltd. in the 1990's and produced in the U.S. by Aircraft Manufacturing & Development) has the potential to be a popular low-cost trainer for private pilot training, with its conventional systems such as the 115-hp Lycoming O-235 and low-maintenance all-metal construction.

I'm going to be turkey to stick my neck out and propose that you folks do a ground-up redraw of the CH640 with matched hole CNC parts throughout. :)

I agree. With matched-hole parts availability, this could very well be my next build. Or a build for my EAA chapter.

I agree.  I was looking at the 640 for my next build (the wife wants a 4 seater), but it looked like Zenith had completely abandoned the design.

Personally it makes it a really tough decision between the Cruzer and SAM, With the many configurations of the SAM one could build it with an O-320 and the aerobatic wings or as an LSA. I think it is an awesome plane. If one was very worried about possible medical issues they can build it LSA if not build it EX. It is one aircraft I think Zenith should consider getting certified. A factory could build the fuselage and wings then build the plane with the customers desired setup of light sport capable, cross country or aerobatic with either a Rotax 912, O-320 or O-360 and appropriate wings. With its looks and the tail wheel version I think it would be popular.

Good news, now maybe we will have access to DUATS.

The new law still has the requirement to fill out the medical history questionnaire. It is the same as present, as I understand it, with the same perjury penalties. Therefore, the same legal liability remains. You can us any licensed doctor for the quad-annual exam, not just AMEs. But he must receive your medical questionnaire first. Whether he is willing to assume potential liability for signing you off as being safe to fly, is an open question. The new law says the results for the physical will not be sent to the FAA "unless requested". That seems a rather large loophole. Obviously it would be "requested" in the event of an accident, or possibly even an incident. Also, the bi annual online medical safety course may have questions revealing your medical status. It is a plus that this opens up most GA aircraft, but the legal entanglements with medical issues seem, IMO, much the same. The reaction of the insurance industry is also unknown at present. What medical certification will they require? Will they require documentation from the doctor ? Etc. There is up to a year from now before FAA rule making is to be completed. Most likely they will add as many restrictions as possible, within the parameters of the reform law.

Another huge loophole seems to be that if your doctor did NOT approve you for flight, seems to me that there is nothing to stop one from simply "shopping" for a doctor 'til you DO "pass!"  This seems possible since nothing is sent to the FAA and you keep the approval from the doc with your logbook. I'll bet the FAA throws a rule in to close this loophole such as mandatory reporting of a "failed" physical?



Cynic that I am, I’m not convinced this (non-aviator) physician thing is necessarily all that reliable and may prove to be troublesome  – I can see the exact scenario you propose being all too common when dealing with physicians who see liability issues with “certifying”  me eligible to fly; an activity they know nothing about.  I choose to be LSA because I’m not interested in the unknowns of medical, bureaucratic hassles (not because I think I shouldn't pass).


But, I’ll be only too pleased to have my pernicious cynicism proved inappropriate, short-sighted and unnecessarily pessimistic. 

You guys need to read the actual forms more carefully.  The doctor is not "certifying" you in any way.  He's simply stating that he has reviewed the information with you.  A subtle, but significant difference.

It has so been proven.  Remember this is not significantly different than truck drivers and hardly any doctors are truck drivers.  However, I did see a pickup in Illinois that had the persons name on the door and advertising "Light Hauling & Brain Surgery."  Seems he paid his way through medical school doing light hauling and continued as a hobby.  :-)

while i understand the zeal for this,less faa is a good thing, it does not change much.

If i read it correct , you still need to redo the medical every 4 years. for an older pilot, fail a medical and, i think it reads, you are done and and cant go lsa unless you give it up before you fail.

besides who wants more passengers? i prefer less, one is fine.

The zenith vne's are still present unless something has changed?


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