Sport Pilot rules released

Actually it was earlier this week.
Local TV news just did a piece on it (reasonably accurate)

For those who don’t know, sport pilot is a new licence and a new aircraft standard.
20 hours and a drivers licence (instead of 40 hours and a 3rd class medical for a private pilot)
Can only fly in the day, only fly a light sport aircraft (1 or 2 seat, max weight and speed) and other stuff.

the best coverage is probably at
FFA website:

Since I already have a provot pilot certificate, I’m more interested in the airplanes that will come out. They need to be built to a “consensus standard” rather than through the buerocratic mess of part 23(?)

Also kit built LSA do not need to conform to the 51% rule- I expect a lot of “quick build” kits.


Yeah, pretty cool. Remains to be seen what this will do for the general aviation industry - legalizes a bunch of not-quite-legal (read heavy and two-seat) ultralights, lets folks without medicals fly straight airplanes (instead of say, just motorgliders).

Gross weight = 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms)
Floatplanes = 1,430 (650 kilograms)
Maximum Full Power Speed = 120 knots (138 mph)
Stall Speed = 45 knots (52 mph) • no more dual stall speeds
Fixed Prop - may be ground adjustable
Fixed Gear - amphibians allowed “repositionable” gear
Two Place - pilot and one passenger
Simplified Medical Approved - however, if you have received a letter with the word “denied” from FAA, not from your doctor, you must get a one-time special issuance or FAA authorization • even if you have been denied in the past, you can try again for special issuance (medicines have changed, for example) • more on this as EAA continues to analyze the new rule
Owner Maintenance Approved on ELSAs - no changes - if you are operating an Amateur-Built or Standard category as an LSA, maintenance remains as it was without change
No Recertification of aircraft required or permitted (this means ultralights are converted to ELSAs; all other aircraft certification and maintenance remain the same)
Rule Effective Date = 9/1/04
It’ll be interesting to see what the long term result of this is. GA has suffered in the past from litigation associated with underqualified pilots. Making flying cheaper - good. Making flying and airplane certification easier - maybe good.

Yeah, the real test is how it shakes out.

Years ago, when I was strictly in ultralights, I had the dilemna of whether to stick with the ultralights or get a license. There were advocates for Recreational Pilot, and others who said “wait for Sport Pilot”, and some who said just get the darn Private already.

I don’t regret getting a Private - even with Sport passed, it lessens some of the complications - but the truth is, it’s more than I really need for the flying I do. I don’t fly at night (not comfortable with it), don’t fly long distances (can’t afford the gas bill), don’t fly in congested areas (I work in a “congested area”, I fly to get away from it) and so on and so forth. Oh, alright, I have been known to carry more than one passenger, but it’s rare. The gist of my point? 99% of my flying is within Sport limits, so really, Sport is not really a limit - it’s just what I’m doing.

IF this is done well - people get real training for that particular sort of flying, aircraft are available and reliable, etc. - I think it would be a great thing. Again, the problem is - will it be done well?

Interesting. I wonder if this will result in a lot more people getting licenses. I’ve always been interested in getting one, but was put off by the expense and time factor. It will be interesting to see if this results in a lot of airplane rentals in vacation destinations like Florida.

I learned to fly when Private was the “entry” certificate, so Recreational and Sport certificates don’t really matter to me personally. But mike1dog raises an interesting question:

The number of aircraft being built annually has plummeted since the late-1970s. With fewer new aircraft being made, the cost of used aircraft – even ones 30 years old – have gone up and up. Being more expensive, fewer people are able to afford to get into flying. With fewer people (as a percentage of the population) flying, there is no “need” to make more airplanes. With fewer airplanes being made, the price of new and used aircraft goes up; which discourages people from persuing aviation… And round and round.

Homebuilts have been quite popular. They’re so popular that new certified aircraft incorporate many of their building techniques. Unfortunately, the price of kits have gone up astronomically, just like the factory built planes.

So I wonder: If people can be enticed to earn their Recreational and Sport certificates, will they move on to Private? Will they want to buy something more capable of the aircraft they can fly on their more limited certificates? Will manufacturers respond to the demand and build more aircraft, so that the price of used aircraft becomes more reasonable?

I hope so. I can’t afford to spend four years’ gross salary on a used airplane.

Two new categories: weight-shift-control (including land and sea class ratings) and powered parachute. I assume that ex-ultralight light sport aircraft which are not weight-shift-control are . . . single engine land airplanes? Seems like that’s how homebuilders of two-seat ultralight-style experimentals were certifying them.

The spirit of LSA is for pilots who are doing recreational flying only, however I’m also curious how someone hiring a pilot (such as a commuter airline) will view hours logged in LSA (airplane) by the aspiring professional pilot (private or commercial certificated) who doesn’t have the money and/or inclination to pay for time in pre-LSA airplanes and wants to rack up cheap ASEL hours (I imagine part 103 ultralight hours don’t mean anything to employers). I imagine the cutoff might be part 23 or equivalent. I keep a different logbook for each category of aircraft but what I’ve seen so far indicates to me that airplane-like LSA time is logged as ASEL by already certificated pilots.

Airlines - any aviation employer for that matter - do look at the type of hours flown as well as the sheer number. If they say “minimum 1500 hours” they might well mean “and 1200 of them better be in high power/complex aircraft” as opposed to, say, Ercoupes. I know pilots with 10,000 hours who couldn’t get a job for a regional airline because ALL their time is in simple SEL pistons - no high power, no retracts, no in-flight adjustable props, and certainly no turbine!

The guys who want an airline career are for the most part being nudged towards dedicated academies/programs that teach you from the ground up, the program focused strongly on the idea you will be flying jets with passengers… so while they might, in the initial stages, start in something like a C172 they’ll be transitioning to higher power/more complex as soon as possible. In other words, not an issue. If prior to joining the academy the person in question had 500 hours in LSA fine, but when seeking that airline job they’ll just have to understand that their future employer is doing to discount that experience to a large degree - the employer will look at flying relevant to the job at hand.

It’s a completely different track (or should be) from the private/rec/sport/ultraight pilot is. I mean, most folks learn to drive cars, right - if you want to learn to drive a semi-trailer for pay you get training specific to that, right? Would be silly to require Aunt Martha to learn how to drive a big diesel if all she wants is to go to the grocery store and church, right?

In fact, what Aunt Martha really needs is training focused on how to get the most out of her car, right?

IF Sport Pilot works out well - and that remains to be seen - then recreational/sport/whatever we’re calling them this week pilots will be receiving training in recreational flying, which is what they actually DO, with minimal forays into the arcana of commericial flying and the airborne “big rigs”.

Or, as I told a CFI not too long after I got my license - sure I’d like an instrument rating, but I can’t justify the cost for a rating that, honestly, I’m not likely to ever use in real life (the planes I fly are either very miminally equpped for instrument flight, or not equipped at all for it) so, if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather spend my training time and money becoming a better VFR pilot because that’s what I actuallly do

The tendency over the last decade or so to shove people who just complete a private license into an IFR training program I think has backfired in many cases. Rather than letting people enjoy the fruits of their labor and become more comfortable with just basic flying they’re nudging, cajoling, and shoving them into yet another expensive training program, for another round of costs, tests, and frustration. And people drop out. Then after you get the IFR it’s “when are you getting your complex/high power rating” Or your twin rating. Or a commercial ticket. It all seems to be done with the assumption we all want to fly for the airlines in the end… and we don’t. Shove-shove-shove to bigger and more expensive and you wind up with people who just can’t afford to fly their big complex machines often enough to stay current, much less safe.

Naw… better to have MORE options on the “low end” of the scale. The simpler the machine, the better the “weekend pilot” will be able to handle it. Even with limitless money (ha!) the weekend flyer doesn’t have the time to really gain proficiency in the very complex machines… there’s work (frequently unrelated to aviation, but necessary to pay the bills), family, other obligations.

It’s rather like saying that if you aren’t interested in learning to drive semis full of hazmat AND qualify for the Indy 500 you might as well not bother with learning to drive a car, because you aren’t “professional” enough.


I think a LOT of people are willing to learn to fly, but they really don’t want much more than an hour or two in the air on nice days. Maybe take one or two folks along for the ride. Nothing really complicated. But yeah, if it looks achievable I think folks are willing to pay a few bucks for the privilege.

And we HAVE TO get some new planes on the low end of the fleet - the average age is what, 25? 30? They’re starting to eat a lot of maintenance money, and they’ve had 3 decades of attrition to thin the ranks.

So - again - done well Sport will bring in some new planes (hopefully reasonably priced), some new blood, and will have instructors focusing on people who don’t want to fly big, huge people/cargo haulers but most certainly do want to fly as safely as they possibly can.

I have serious reservations as to whether this will actually happen.