Sport Pilot Rule Synopsis
(the following information was taken from sportpilot.org)
This is a synopsis of the definition of a light-sport aircraft category, the requirements to obtain a sport pilot certificate, and requirements to obtain a repairman certificate with a maintenance or inspection rating.
What are Light-Sport Aircraft?
The FAA defines a light-sport aircraft as any aircraft that meets the following:
- Maximum gross takeoff weight—1,320 lbs, or 1,430 lbs for seaplanes.
- Maximum stall speed—51 mph (45 knots) CAS
- Maximum speed in level flight with maximum continuous power (Vh)—138 mph (120 knots) CAS
- Single or two-seat aircraft only
- Single, reciprocating engine (if powered), including rotary or diesel engines
- Fixed or ground-adjustable propeller
- Unpressurized cabin
- Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft intended for operation on water or a glider
- Can be manufactured and sold ready-to-fly under a new Special Light-Sport aircraft certification category. Aircraft must meet industry consensus standards. Aircraft under this certification may be used for sport and recreation, flight training, and aircraft rental.
- Can be licensed Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) if kit- or plans-built. Aircraft under this certification may be used only for sport and recreation and flight instruction for the owner of the aircraft.
- Can be licensed Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) if the aircraft has previously been operated as an ultralight but does not meet the FAR Part 103 definition of an ultralight vehicle. These aircraft must be transitioned to E-LSA category no later than January 31, 2008.
- Can be licensed as an Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) and flown by a sport pilot if it meets the the above requirements.
- Must have FAA registration—N-number.
- Aircraft category and class includes: Airplane (Land/Sea), Gyroplane, Airship, Balloon, Weight-Shift-Control (“Trike” Land/Sea), Glider, and Powered Parachute.
- U.S. or foreign manufacture of light-sport aircraft is authorized.
- Aircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate that meet above specifications may be flown by sport pilots. However, the aircraft must remain in standard category and cannot be changed to light-sport aircraft category. Holders of a sport pilot certificate may fly an aircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate if it meets the definition of a light-sport aircraft. —May be operated at night if the aircraft is equipped per FAR 91.205, if such operations are allowed by the aircraft’s operating limitations and the pilot holds at least a Private Pilot certificate and a minimum of a third-class medical.
The Sport Pilot Categories and Classes:
A sport pilot may exercise flight privileges in one or more of the following aircraft categories:
- Airplane (single-engine only)
- Lighter-than-air (airship or balloon)
- Rotorcraft (gyroplane only)
- Powered Parachute
- Weight-Shift control aircraft(e.g. Trikes)
So what has the FAA done by creating the Sport Pilot Certificate? Well it has done the following:
- Creates a new student sport pilot certificate
- Creates a new sport pilot flight instructor certificate.
- Requires FAA knowledge (written) and practical (flight) test.
- Credits sport pilot flight time toward more advanced pilot ratings. (when given by regular CFI’s, not Sport Pilot CFI’s)
- Requires either a 3rd class FAA medical certificate or a current and valid U.S. driver’s license as evidence of medical eligibility (provided the individual’s most recent application for an FAA medical certificate was not denied, revoked, suspended or withdrawn).
- Does not allow carrying passengers for compensation or hire
- Does not allow flights in furtherance of business
- Allows sharing (“pro-rata”) operating expenses with another pilot.
- Allows daytime flight only with visibility of at least 3 SM regardless of airspace requirements, and not higher than 10,000 MSL.
- Allow sport pilots to fly vintage and production aircraft (standard airworthiness certificate) that meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft.