What You Need To Know
Special Coverage: Sport Pilot /
Light-Sport Aircraft Released by FAA

 
Ultralighters have been waiting a long time for the new Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft final rules. All were treated to 450+ pages of new regulations on July 20, 2004. Since that date, USUA Headquarters has been inundated with questions from members requesting clarification of the rules. There are many details, which USUA hopes to be able help you digest by providing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
 
First of All, What About FAR Part 103 Operations?
 
If you are operating your single-seat ultralight under the privileges and limitations of FAR Part 103 (FAA's ultralight rule), FAA is proposing no changes to that rule, and you may continue operating your ultralight under those guidelines.
 
What Are Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA)?
 
FAA defines LSA as being:
· Simple, low-performance, low-energy aircraft including airplanes, gliders, gyroplanes, balloons, airships, weight-shift control (trikes), and powered parachutes.
· With a maximum weight of 1,320 pounds (1,430 pounds seaplanes).
· Single reciprocating engines (which includes diesel and rotary engines, but does not allow jet engines).
· Maximum stall speed of 45 knots (52 mph with no lift-enhancing devices).
· Maximum top speed of 120 knots (138 mph).
· Fixed landing gear (except if equipped with amphibious floats, which can be repositionable once in flight).
· Fixed-pitch propeller (unless equipment is ground-only repositionable).
 
What is Not a
Light-Sport Aircraft?

 
· True ultralights (any vehicle that meets, but does not exceed, the definition of an ultralight vehicle found in FAR Part 103).
· Paragliders and powered paragliders.
· Hang gliders.
· Multi-engine aircraft (because of their complexity).
· Helicopters and powered lifts (also because of their complexity).
·Any other complex aircraft with retractable gear or in-flight repositionable pitched propeller.
 
What are the Sport Pilot Privileges and Limitations?
 
Sport Pilot will allow transitioning ultralight pilots additional privileges to what they already have. However, some operating limitations will still apply.
 
Basic Sport Pilot privileges include:
· You can only fly when visibility is 3 miles or greater.
· You can carry a passenger.
· You can fly in basic airspace with no communication with Air Traffic Control (Class D and E).
· You can fly in a light-sport aircraft that goes less than 100 mph.
 
Some limitations include:
· You cannot fly for compensation or hire.
· You must stay below 10,000 feet.
· You cannot tow any object.
 
The rule has been designed to incorporate "building blocks," which will allow the sport pilot, with additional training and endorsements, to:
 
· Fly in Class B and C airspace.
· Additional category and class endorsements may be added.
· Fly faster than 100 mph.
 
Sport pilots are limited to flying the following aircraft:
 
· Ultralights
· Registered LSA that we previously affectionately called "fat ultralights" and 2-place trainers.
· Newly manufactured LSA (ready-to-fly).
· Experimental LSA.
· Kit-built LSA.
· Already certificated aircraft that meet LSA definitions.
 
 
How Can I Transition My "Fat" Ultralight or 2-Seat Trainer?
 
These aircraft will be registered as Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft. You have only until August 31, 2007 to transition the airplane you are now flying. After this date, the transition option will not be available. Any existing "fat" ultralight or 2-seat trainer not registered as an Experimental light sport aircraft by that date will not be legal to fly.
 
To register your existing airplane, you will need to:
 
· Register it as an aircraft. Get an N-number from FAA (after October 1, 2004 and before August 31, 2007).
· Complete a condition inspection with a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR). If determined safe to fly, an Experimental Light-Sport Airworthiness Certificate will be issued
· Operating limitations will be established for this existing fleet.
· Aircraft registrations for Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (ELSA) will be accepted October 2004.
 
At this time, you will be allowed to use your ELSA for flight training, towing, compensation, or hire until January 2010, but you are limited to operations in uncongested areas. Annual condition inspections will be required.
 
What About the
Factory-Built LSA?

 
These aircraft will be registered as Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Industry has been meeting for the past few years establishing definitions and consensus standards for LSA. The aircraft that meet these definitions of light-sport aircraft will be available as ready-to-fly aircraft that meet the manufacturers' consensus standards. Each aircraft built under these standards will have a manufacturer-issued statement of compliance for the aircraft (manufactured in accordance with the industry consensus standards). To register your factory-built LSA you will need to:
· Register the aircraft. Get an N-number from FAA (after October 1, 2004).
· A condition inspection will be completed and a DAR will issue the special light-sport airworthiness certificate.
· FAA will establish the operating limitations for these aircraft.
· Manufacturers' safety recommendations will be required. (Periodically, manufacturers will release bulletins detailing modifications and procedures that are recommended for safety concerns. These recommendations are required to be performed on these types of LSA.)
· Aircraft registrations for Special LSA will be accepted October 2004.
· Annual condition inspections will be required of your aircraft.
 
You can fly over congested areas because FAA now knows how the aircraft is designed, produced, flight-tested and maintained. Annual condition inspections will be required.
 
What About the LSA Kits?
 
Kit builders will be able to take advantage of the LSA rule as well. The manufacturer will issue a statement of compliance for the kit (manufactured in accordance with industry consensus standards). "If the manufacturer has the authority to manufacture an aircraft to be issued a special light-sport airworthiness certificate, and has done that at least once, then that manufacturer has the authority to build kit aircraft too." FAA is allowing kits that can be produced as either an 80% kit or 51% kit. When registering your kit-built LSA, keep in mind that LSA assembled from an eligible kit can be exempt from the 51% rule.
 
Some privileges and limitations regarding LSA kits are:
 
· Kits are not eligible for compensation, hire, or rental operations.
· Possibly no flight over congested areas (this depends on modifications performed to the specific aircraft).
· Manufacturers' safety recommendations will be recommended, not required.
· Annual condition inspections will be required.
· Aircraft registrations for LSA will be accepted October 2004.
· Annual condition inspections will be required.
 
Original designs and "built from plans" aircraft that meet the LSA definition can be registered as Experimental Homebuilt, and are subject to the 51% rule. A sport pilot can fly these aircraft.

I Want to Buy an Imported Aircraft. Can it be Eligible for LSA?
 
Yes. However, the same core requirements apply.
 
· Manufacturers will issue a statement of compliance for aircraft or kit (manufactured in accordance with industry consensus standards).
· The country of manufacture must have an agreement with the U.S. to assure that there is at least a dialog between the U.S. and that country.
· The aircraft must be eligible in that country for flight authority (if that country doesn't want the aircraft flying there, FAA doesn't want it flying here).
 
I Have an Old Champ. Can I Fly it as a Sport Pilot
Under LSA?

 
Previously certificated aircraft can be piloted by a Sport Pilot. Some Standard Category aircraft (some early Cessnas, Pipers, Champs, etc.) will apply, as well as some Experimental category aircraft (Kitfox, RANS, etc.), as long as they fit LSA definitions when originally certificated. Aircraft with modifications are not eligible, only original certification definitions will apply. All previously certificated aircraft will need to fit LSA definitions. Annual condition inspections will be required.
 
FAA will provide a list of eligible aircraft on the FAA Website: www.faa.gov . USUA will provide links to these lists and other critical FAA information from our Website: www.usua.org .
 
Do I Have to Put the
N-number on the Airplane?

 
(Yes, this was a real question.)
N-numbers will be required to be displayed on all LSA, including powered parachutes and trikes. Displayed N-numbers will be at least 3 inches high and positioned on a structural member. On some aircraft, there is no structural member that will accommodate this size marking, so a 3-inch plate will need to be permanently affixed to allow for this. In addition to the N-number, appropriate placarding is required. Experimental LSA will have the word "Experimental" on the side of the aircraft, and Special LSA (factory built) will have the words "Light Sport" on the side.
 
How Do I Register as a Sport Pilot?
 
FAA has created a new airman application form for Sport Pilot to be used for new pilot registrations. The Practical Test Standards and Knowledge Test are scheduled for release in October 2004, and FAA says they will be available to accept pilot and instructor registrations after January 2005. However, in order to create pilots, instructors and examiners need to be already in place. The first Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) class is not scheduled until that same time (January 2005), so it is safe to say that while the application and materials will be available, it may be some time before actual testing and registration can occur. FAA is aware of the time frame it has established for itself, and has promised to swiftly accommodate registrations.
 
Sport Pilot certificates will have no Category/Class rating printed on the identification (wallet) card. It will just say Sport Pilot. The category/class privileges will be endorsements in your logbook. Also recorded in the logbook will be additional privileges and additional categories/classes. Sport pilots will be required to carry their logbook with them on each and every flight.
 
The requirements for the Sport Pilot certificate are:
 
· Meet Sport Pilot medical requirements (third-class medical or valid U.S. driver's license).
· Applicant must be at least 17 years of age (16 for balloons and gliders).
· 20 Hours ­ Total (15 Hours ­ Flight training, 5 Hours ­ Solo).
Including:
· 2 Hours ­ Dual Cross-Country.
· 1 Solo Cross-Country.
· 3 Hours ­ Prep.
· Successful completion of knowledge and practical tests.
 
If you are registered as an ultralight pilot with an FAA-recognized ultralight registration program before September 1, 2004:
 
· Applicant must be at least 17 years of age (16 for balloons and gliders).
· Must be able to read and speak the English language.
· Meet Sport Piloit medical requirements (third-class medical or valid U.S. driver's license).
· Successful completion of knowledge and practical tests.
· Registered ultralight pilots will have until January 31, 2007 to take advantage of the credit FAA allows for their ultralight pilot registration. After this date, all sport pilot applicants will be required to have accumulated all training and flight time requirements. As proof of your ultralight pilot registration, FAA will accept certified proof of that registration, as provided by the FAA-recognized ultralight registration organization with which you are registered. USUA has tried to get some exact description of what this "certified" document should be, but apparently we will need to consult the upcoming Advisory Circular for details. Preliminary discussions indicate that your USUA-issued member and airman card should suffice. If additional documentation is required, USUA will provide that documentation at no charge to current USUA members. All updates and additional information will be posted on the USUA Website.
 
If you are registered as an ultralight pilot with an FAA-recognized ultralight registration program after September 1, 2004:
 
· Applicant must be at least 17 years of age (16 for balloons and gliders).
· Must be able to read and speak the English language.
· Meet Sport Pilot medical requirements (third-class medical or valid U.S. driver's license).
· 20 Hours ­ Total (15 Hours ­ Flight training, 5 Hours ­ Solo).
Including:
· 2 Hours ­ Dual Cross-Country.
· 1 Solo Cross-Country.
· 3 Hours ­ Prep.
· Successful completion of knowledge and practical tests.
· Credit is available for time logged as an ultralight pilot with an FAA-recognized ultralight registration program until January 31, 2007.
 
Compliance with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) guidelines will be required. Accident investigation will be real and handled by NTSB.
If you fly in airspace that requires special equipment (transponder, etc.), you will have to have that equipment.
 
How do I Become a Sport Pilot Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)?
 
Sport Pilot CFI requirements are:
 
· Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
· Must be able to read and speak the English language.
· Applicant must meet medical eligibility: Either a third-class medical or current and valid U.S. driver's license.
· Sport Pilot certificate or higher.
· CFI or CFI-SP recommendation.
· Successful completion of FAA-administered Fundamentals Of Instructing (FOI) written test.
· Successful completion of Sport Pilot CFI Knowledge and Practical tests.
 
CFI Sport Pilot Flight Time Requirements:
 
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.
Trike: 150 hours total (50 in weight-shift), 25 hours cross-country.
Powered parachute: 100 hours total (50 in a powered parachute), 15 hours cross-country.
 
If you are registered as an Ultralight Basic Flight Instructor with an FAA-recognized ultralight registration program before September 1, 2004:
 
· Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
·Must be able to read and speak the English language.
· Applicant must meet medical eligibility: Either a third-class medical or current and valid U.S. driver's license.
· Sport Pilot certificate or higher.
· CFI or CFI-SP recommendation.
·Successful completion of FAA-administered Fundamentals Of Instructing (FOI) written test.
· Successful completion of Sport Pilot CFI Knowledge and Practical tests.
 
Flight experience requirements are waived for BFIs registered with an FAA-recognized ultralight registration program before September 1, 2004. An ultralight instructor must transition to sport pilot instructor by January 31, 2008 if he or she wants credit for his or her ultralight flight time.
 
If you are registered as an Ultralight Basic Flight Instructor with an FAA-recognized ultralight registration program after September 1, 2004, Sport Pilot CFI requirements are:
 
· Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
· Must be able to read and speak the English language.
· Applicant must meet medical eligibility: either a third-class medical or current and valid U.S. driver's license.
· Sport Pilot certificate or higher.
· CFI or CFI-SP Recommendation.
· Successful completion of FAA-administered Fundamentals Of Instructing (FOI) written test.
· Successful completion of Sport Pilot CFI Knowledge and Practical tests.
 
CFI Sport Pilot Flight Time Requirements:
 
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.
Trike: 150 hours total (50 in weight-shift), 25 hours cross-country.
Powered parachute: 100 hours total (50 in a powered parachute), 15 hours cross-country.
 
Flight experience can be credited toward flight time requirements for BFIs registered with an FAA-recognized ultralight registration program after September 1, 2004. An ultralight instructor must transition to sport pilot instructor by January 31, 2008 if he or she wants credit for his or her ultralight flight time.
 
What About the Medical?
 
The driver's license medical is the most talked-about issue in Sport Pilot. In all other FAA airmen programs (recreational pilot, private pilot, etc.), there is a provision that requires applicants to pass and possess a valid third-class medical or higher. This certifies FAA that the pilot's physical condition is such that there should be no medical factors that will affect his/her ability to safely pilot an aircraft.
Sport Pilot has brought about the possibility of using a current and valid U.S. driver's license to satisfy the medical requirements. Originally presented as a way in which pilots who have lost their medical will again be allowed to fly, the final rule took an unexpected turn.
· You have the option to use a third-class medical or a driver's license.
· If you use the driver's license option, you must comply with the limitations of your driver's license (eyeglasses, etc.).
· If you lose your license to drive for any reason (parking tickets, etc.), you have lost your license to fly.
· Your most recently issued medical cannot have been denied, suspended or revoked.  If so, you cannot use your driver's license as a medical.
· Your most recent medical application cannot have been denied. If so, you cannot use your driver's license as a medical.
· If your most recently issued special issuance is no longer valid, you cannot use your driver's license as a medical.
· If you did not lose your medical (it was not denied, but you have felt that you might be unable to pass the exam), you can use your driver's license.
In any event, everyone, before acting as Pilot In Command (PIC) of an aircraft, must determine if they are physically fit before flying. You must act responsibly.
 
Who May do the Inspections and Maintenance on my LSA?
 
The holder of a Repairman certificate with an Inspection Rating may perform inspections on LSA. You can earn that certificate by attending one of the 16-hour courses that will be sponsored by USUA and others, to be held around the country soon. As soon as FAA releases the guidelines for this course, the classes will be scheduled and announced via the USUA Website and Ultralight Flying! magazine.

Maintenance is another issue. You may maintain your own aircraft, but you may not charge for your services. In order to perform maintenance on someone else's aircraft for a fee, you will need to hold a Repairman Certificate with a Maintenance Rating. This can be obtained by successfully completing a much more involved training course.
 
These courses are designed to accommodate all types of aircraft (airplane, trike, powered parachute, etc.), and are broken down into core modules. These modules are described as follows:
Three core modules are required. They cover regular maintenance procedures, and will each have a 50-question test that will bring the repairman to a level 3 rating (authorized to perform maintenance without supervision). Each of these core modules will be 24 hours long, totaling 72 hours.
 
Core Module 1 - Regular Maintenance Overview; 24 hours.
Core Module 2 - Airframe; 32 hours.
Core Module 3 - Engine and Propellers; 32 hours.
 
Five electives will be offered that will be particular to your category of aircraft, and will be of varying duration. The breakdown will be:
 
· Airplane - 32 hours.
· Weight-shift - 16 hours.
· Powered parachute - 16 hours.
 
Total hours required for airplane rating is 120 hours.
Total hours required for weight-shift rating is 104 hours.
Total hours required for powered parachute rating is 104 hours.
 
At press time, USUA is actively involved in discussions with FAA concerning the Repairman certificate. Issues are being discussed that might change some of the requirements, as well as issues connected to the registration of instructors for each of the related courses.
 
When do I Have to do all the "Hoop Jumping"?
 
Some important dates to remember are:
 
· Sport Pilot Practical Test Standards and Knowledge Test Release - October 2004.
· Aircraft Registrations for LSA Accepted - October 2004.
· Designated Pilot Examiner Applications Accepted - October 2004.
· First DAR Class - November 2004.
· First DPE Class - January 2005.
· Sport Pilot Applications Accepted - January 2005.
· Ultralight pilots need to take the Sport Pilot Practical test by January 31, 2007.
· "Fat" ultralights and ultralight trainers need to be registered as LSA by August 31, 2007.
· Ultralight instructors need to take the Sport Pilot CFI Practical Test by January 31, 2008.
· The FAA-issued ultralight training exemptions allowing BFIs to use 2- seaters for training expires January 31, 2008.
 
USUA will continue to provide updated information concerning Sport Pilot, Light-Sport Aircraft, and ultralight aviation, on www.usua.org and in the pages of Ultralight Flying! magazine. Next month we will go into more detail about the pilot and instructor registration process of Sport Pilot.
 
USUA is actively involved in discussions with FAA and industry leaders to help represent your interests in matters concerning your chosen form of aviation. Thanks to all USUA members for your continued support!

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