and valued ANN Contributor Jon Thornburgh (right) has made his
first summary of the new LSA/Sport Pilot rule available to ANN. As
one of the pioneers who has worked tirelessly in the sport aviation
community for a number of years, his insight has proven to be quite
Here's Jon's quick summary of the salient features
regarding the Sport Pilot certificate and Light Sport Aircraft
LIGHT SPORT AIRCRAFT
- The allowable gross weight is 1,320 pounds. Aircraft operated
on water can weigh 1,430 pounds.
- The stall speed must be not greater than 45 knots, max speed:
- LSA cannot have an in-flight propeller or retractable
- Seaplanes can have "repositionable gear." The rule specifically
says that the gear must be operated in either the down position
throughout the entire flight, or in the up position throughout the
entire flight. In other words, it appears that an amphibious
seaplane may not take off from land with the gear down, raise the
gear, and then land on water. This seems to preclude the Aventura
from qualifying as an LSA.
- An LSA can have only one engine.
- Hang gliders and foot-launched powered and unpowered
paragliders are specifically excluded from being LSA, and a Sport
Pilot certificate does not allow a sport pilot to fly a tandem hang
glider or tandem paraglider.
- Weight-shift trikes are limited to two-axis control only. No
rudder is allowed for yaw control.
- Contrary to the Sport
Pilot NPRM, a sport pilot need not obtain a logbook
endorsement for each make and model that he wants to fly. The FAA
will create a "set" of similar LSA make and models. You'll need
additional instruction and an instructor's logbook endorsement for
each new make and model "set" that you want to check out
- Sport Pilot Instructors must have 5 hours of PIC in each make
and model set before they can teach in that aircraft.
- Powered parachutes are divided into "land" and "sea"
- Pilots will be allowed to take a practical test (flight test)
in a single seat LSA. The examiner will observe him from the
ground. The pilot will have a "single-seat" limitation on his
- Sport pilots will have to take a biennial flight review (BFI).
A pilot with a "single-seat" limitation will still have to take a
BFI, and he will have to take it in a two seat LSA.
- The "driver's license medical" is not as liberal as many people
thought it would be. If you have failed your aviation medical exam,
you cannot fly with just a driver's license. If you lose your
driver's license for any reason (like failure to have insurance)
you cannot fly an LSA (unless you get a third class medical.) If
your doctor tells you that you can't operate a motor vehicle
(vision impairment, taking prescription drugs, etc.) you cannot fly
- A sport pilot may not fly above 10,000 feet MSL. He cannot fly
above 10,000 feet even to cross over high terrain. (If you live
near Denver, you won't be able to fly more than 5,000 feet
- A sport pilot must have at least 3 miles visibility to
- No night flying.
- No towing.
- You cannot demonstrate LSA for sale if you are a "salesman."
(The definition of a "salesman" is not given.)
- A sport pilot may fly in airspace where radio control is
required, but only with additional training and a logbook
- Although an LSA is allowed to have a top speed (in level
flight) of 120 knots, a sport pilot must have additional training
and a logbook endorsement to fly an LSA with a level flight speed
of more than 87 knots.
- On "Special" LSA (those
LSA delivered "turn-key" flyable by the manufacturer,) you are only
allowed to do "preventative maintenance", and only if you are the
owner of the Special LSA. (Preventive maintenance options are
listed in FAR Part 43, Appendix "A".) If you want to do an annual
inspection you must attend a 16-hour maintenance course. The
16-hour course only allows you to inspect your airplane for
defects, it does not allow you to perform maintenance on the
- If you want to do actual maintenance on the aircraft, you must
attend a maintenance course of 80 hours for gliders and
lighter-than-air aircraft, 120 hours for airplanes and 104 hours
for weight-shift (trikes) and powered parachutes. (The original
NPRM proposed 80 hours.) Maintenance students must pass a
maintenance knowledge test with a score of at least 80%.
- An applicant for an LSA repairman certificate must take a
maintenance course for each class of LSA.
- LSA will be subject to Airworthiness Directives ("AD")
- Maintenance must be performed in accordance with the general
aviation standards of FAR Part 43.
- There can be no alternations made to an LSA unless it is
approved by the manufacturer or the FAA.
- All two-seat LSAs must have an ELT.
- LSA will be required to have a transponder to fly within Class
B and Class C airspace, and the Class B "Mode C veil."
- LSA must comply with FAR 91.213 (Inoperative Equipment) also
known as the "Minimum Equipment List." This means that if you're on
a cross-country flight and your tachometer breaks, you cannot fly
home until it's fixed.
- The two-seat ultralight Exemption for ultralight training will
expire on January 31, 2008. After then, ultralight BFIs and AFIs
will cease to exist.
- All "fat" single seat ultralights and all two-seat ultralight
trainers must be FAA inspected and converted to "experimental" LSA
by August 31, 2007. (Apparently, if an ultralight trainer is not
converted by August 31, 2007 it may still be used as an ultralight
trainer until January 31, 2008, after which it must be
- After an ultralight trainer is converted to an experimental LSA
a Sport Pilot Instructor may use the converted experimental LSA as
a Sport Pilot trainer (for compensation) until September 1,
- An ultralight pilot must register with a national ultralight
organization (ASC, EAA, USUA) by September 1, 2004 if he wants to
have his ultralight flight time to count toward his sport pilot
license. He must then take his Sport Pilot practical test by
January 31, 2007.
- Prospective LSA examiners who inspect and issue experimental
LSA airworthiness certificates (DPEs) must attend a three-day FAA
SPORT PILOT TRAINING
- Prospective Sport Pilot
Examiners must attend a 5-day FAA course.
- Sport pilot instructors must have 150 hours of flight
- A sport pilot must be at least 17 years old, an Sport Pilot
instructor 18 years.
This an abbreviated summary of the minimum required flight
experience to be a sport pilot:
- Airplane: 20 hours total, 75 mile solo cross country
- Glider: 10 hours total
- Gyroplane: 20 hours total, 50 mile solo cross country
- Powered parachute: 12 hours total, 10 mile solo cross
- Weight shift (trike): 20 hours total, 50 miles solo cross
This an abbreviated summary of the minimum required
flight experience to be a private pilot weight shift or powered
- Powered parachute:: 25 hours total, including 3 hours of night
flight, and a 25 mile solo cross country.
- Weight-shift: 40 hours total, including 3 hours of night flying
with a 75 mile night cross country, and a 100 mile solo cross
Summary of sport pilot instructor
- 18 years of age
- Knowledge exams on aeronautics and fundamental of
- Practical test
- Have a sport pilot certificate or higher rating. A sport pilot
instructor may teach private pilot weight-shift or private
pilot powered parachute if the sport pilot instructor has at
least a private pilot rating himself.
Required flight time:
- Airplane: 150 hours
total time, 25 hours of cross country time
- Glider: 25 hours flight time
- Gyroplane: 125 hours flight time (at least 50 hours in a
gyroplane) and 10 hours cross country
- Weight-shift: 150 hours total (50 in weight-shift,) 25 hours
- Powered parachute: 100 hours total (50 in a powered parachute,)
15 hours cross country
- 5 hours in the same make and model "set"
- The sport pilot instructor must renew his instructor's
certificate every two years, just as a general aviation instructor
- An ultralight instructor must transition to sport pilot
instructor by January 31, 2008 if he wants credit for his
ultralight flight time
- In the original Sport Pilot NPRM the FAA estimated the cost of
implementing Sport Pilot (to the government and to the pilot
community) to be $40.3 million dollars. After the OMB said that the
FAA's economic figures were hogwash, the FAA went back to the ouiji
board and revised their estimate of the cost of Sport Pilot to $221
Deadlines to remember:
September 1, 2004
-- Effective date of the Sport Pilot rule. Deadline
for an ultralight pilot to register with a national ultralight
organization in order to have his ultralight flight time count
toward his sport pilot certificate.
August 31, 2005 -- Deadline for
recreational pilots and higher rated pilots to acquire the
necessary flight time to apply for a category and class rating
limited to a specific make and model of experimental aircraft.
January 31, 2007 -- Deadline for an
ultralight pilot to take his sport pilot practical test if he wants
his ultralight flight time to count toward his required sport pilot
August 31, 2007 -- Last day that an
experimental certificate will be issued to a "fat" ultralight or
January 31, 2008 Deadline for an ultralight
instructor to take the practical test for sport pilot instructor
and still receive credit for his ultralight instructing
January 31, 2008 -- Ultralight two-seat
training exemption expires.
September 1, 2009 -- Last day to be able
to use an ultralight converted to an experimental LSA as a sport
pilot trainer for compensation.