Thoughts for the Morning After, Part II
By ANN Senior Contributing Editor Kevin "Hognose" O'Brien
In Part I of this series, I
talked about some of the gotchas and Catch-22's in the new Sport
Pilot final rule. In this installment of the series, I'll talk
about the Sport Pilot license and the Light Sport Aircraft category
that it creates.
The Sport Pilot licence will allow the pilot to fly day VFR,
subject to similar restrictions as a private or recreational pilot,
in these machines, subject to suitable training. Pilots must have
an FAA medical certificate, or a current driver's licence (more on
medical requirements below):
- Airplane (single-engine only)
- Lighter-than-air (airship or balloon)
- Rotorcraft (gyroplane -- no helicopters which are thought to be
- Powered Parachute
- Weight-Shift (Trikes)
As long as the machine meets the general requirements of a light
sport aircraft (see next subhead). Note the lighter-than-air is an
- Be a minimum of 16 years of age to become a student sport pilot
(14 for glider)
- Be 17 years of age before testing for a sport pilot certificate
(16 for gliders).
- Be able to read, write, and understand the English
- Hold either a current and valid U.S. driver's license or an FAA
airman's medical certificate
Training depends on the kind of machine; minimum is 20 hours
(vast overkill on a PPC, possibly not enough on some other a/c).
Your ultralight time counts towareds the Spport certificate. You
must pass a written (well, a computer knowledge test, but even the
FAA still calls it a 'written') and practical test for each kind of
machine. That is, an SP licence for fixed-wing cuts no ice for
The Machines are Tweaked a Bit
The original proposal
- Maximum of two occupants.
- Maximum take-off weight of 1,232 pounds (560 kg.) or less.
- Maximum 39-knot stall speed in the landing configuration. (44
knots without the use of lift-enhancing devices.)
- 115-knot maximum operating speed.
- Single engine
- Fixed landing gear, or repositionable gear for a seaplane.
The final rule (courtesy Aero-News); changes in Bold Red and commentary in Blue:
- Maximum of two occupants
- Maximum take-off weight of 1,320 lb.
(600 kg) or less. (+88
lb/40kg) (1,430 lb. floatplanes)
- Maximum stall speed of 45
knots without the use of lift-enhancing devices.
(+1 kt, reference to landing configuration
- 120-knot maximum
operating speed. (+5 kt. That's 138 mph, by the
- Single engine -- piston engines
only. (Piston reference
- Fixed landing gear except seaplanes which may have
"repositionable" landing gear.
- Fixed pitch
So they did listen and make some welcome changes. The MTOW
increase is the most significant of these but there are a few
designs that will welcome the extra 5 kts.
Machines that meet these general requirements include the two
new categories (light-sport experimental and special light sport
aircraft) and some certified and vintage machines. The FAA
envisions "fat ultralights" and two-seat ultralights being
legalised under this rule. However, while certified and LSA
aircraft can be rented or used for training for hire, experimentals
and Light Sport Experimentals cannot.
Some Cool Stuff
Like a Recreational
Pilot, a Sport Pilot can fly in controlled airspace with a proper
logbook endorsement (no Class A, but that is IFR airspace anyway).
The time you logged in ultralights chops over to your Sport Pilot
logbook, and time you log as a Sport Pilot appliies to higher
ratings. Yes, the time you rack up in a Pterodactyl can count to
help you get into a 777.
Repairman Light-Sport Aircraft requires some kind of skill test,
- Inspection rating-complete a 16 hour course on the inspection
requirements of the particular make and model of light-sport
- Maintenance rating-complete an course (80 to 120 hours
depending on category of aircraft) on the maintenance requirements
of the particular category of light-sport aircraft.
To do any work on the machine, except routine PM, you need the
Tomorrow, I'll talk about the problems gyro owners will face,
and the medical surprises in the final rule.