# Sport Pilot

• ### No

• Total voters
96

Staff member
Just a little poll to see how many of us are planning on taking advantage of the Sport Pilot license.

#### Dave

##### Member
As an already fully certified pilot, I am disqualified from participating in your poll, but I have to comment...
The FAA screwed up big time a couple years back with the "recreational Pilots License" program. When it was all said and done, one had to ask themselves, "Why would I go through 95% of the work involved in getting a pilots license, yet limit myself to only 35% of the privilege?"
I am fully in support of the concept of the sport pilots license and I hope that it is a boon to aviation. Lets just hope that the pencil pushers dont garp it up again...

Dave

#### Jerry Rosie

##### Active Member
Great analysis of the situation, Dave. I share your thoughts (guess that's why I thought it was a great analysis . Hope things work out as planned - the biggest advantage at this time seems to be the relaxed medical requirements....

##### Well-Known Member
Perhaps it's from lack of education on the subject, but I've always had a problem with these "reduced qualification" licenses. It seems to me that it requires a certain amount of training and experience to safely pilot a hunk of metal around the skies. Whether the hunk of metal (or plastic) weighs in at 700lb or 2000lb or how far it is from it's home base, doesn't really make a lot of difference to how much it hurts when it hits you head on.

I believe you can get the new license with no medical - just a drivers license. Living in S. Florida this gives me serious cause for concern - many of the drivers license holders down here (S. Florida) have VERY reduced capability to see, hear or even think clearly.

Can someone explain to me why it's a good idea to increase the number of pilots in the air while, at the same time, reducing the average knowledge, experience, skills and medical qualification?

#### Jerry Rosie

##### Active Member
one explain to me why it's a good idea to increase the number of pilots in the air while, at the same time, reducing the average knowledge, experience, skills and medical qualification?

Dave

#### Jerry Rosie

##### Active Member
Bravo Dave!! Well said!!

#### orion

##### R.I.P.
To all of the above, well said. Here's my two bits regarding the new regs.

First, from the standpoint of a medical, yes it's inconvenient to go for even a third class medical, although given the one's I've been to, all you pretty much have to prove is that you can walk and talk, preferably while you're breathing. If you can't pass that, then maybe it might be safer to not be in the sky in the first place.

However, many out there have various minor ailments or conditions, conditions which in no way reduce their capability to drive or pilot an aircraft. The FAA however, in their infinite governmental wisdom, has decided that these conditions make you a danger to yourself or others, regardless of more sound medical evaluation.

For these folks I would welcome the new regs as it would allow more people to fly. Given how much I value my flying, I think it's worthwhile to create any new venues that allow more people to keep flying as long as reasonably possible.

The problem I see is with the proposed aircraft limitations. One of the early arguments for the new category (or classification) was that it would allow more people to start flying since the smaller, potentially lower cost aircraft (which would be more economical to operate) would result in lower training costs. Thus far the argument works.

Then however, a few special interests got involved and the numbers that the FAA selected reflected the proportions and capabilities of two place ultralights. And here is where I have a problem.

Basically what this will result in (on the training side) is initial flight training being taught in very light airplanes. If you don't see my point, here's an example: Most of us learned to fly in the rather conventional aircraft that have become the backbone of the industry. Those are the small Cherokees, Cessna 150s, a few Grummans and few other, slightly older models.

Looking at all these aircraft, what you find is that they all have roughly the same power and gross weight. For a while I owned a Grumman Lynx. It grossed out at 1,600 pounds, with about 125 hp.

So, my question is, given roughly the same payload capability (two people and sufficient fuel), where would I remove nearly 400 pounds out of the rather marginal Grumman airframe, and would still end up with a safe and structurally sound aircraft.

In short, in my view, what these regulations are doing is placing the least experienced pilots into the least capable airplanes. The airframes will have only marginal structure, coupled with rather marginal power. Doesn't sound like a very good recepie.

For the rest of the flying public, this type of aircraft might be OK however not really usable for anything except flying circles around your home field. Want to go somewhere? Get in your car and tow your airplane behind you.

What seems to be lacking on the lower end of the category is aircraft that can deliver the basic training needs but still have sufficient capability for some level of real utility. What's wrong with being able to carry two people with full fuel for a good cross country leg, along with enough space and capability for realistic baggage?

Personally, I think the regs should have been written as they are, based on gross weight and power, but the numbers should have been 1,800 to 2,000 pounds, coupled with 180 hp. Now you get into an area of real utility capability, yet still have an aircraft capable of delivering superb training.

As far as making these production aircraft less expensive? Don't hold your breath. Just because the FAA is not going to control the regulatory process does not mean that the companies are going to be able to get away with simpler verification. Most likely what's going to happen is that the new governing organization (ASTM is it?) is going to start with FAR 23 or the JAR documents, then boil them down to the simpler aircraft. The things to design and test for however will still be pretty much the same.

Given the cost of certificated engines and the costs associated with low volume production, I doubt that the new airplanes will sell for much lower than about $80k. And at that rate, you might as well go out and buy a clean used, fully certified airplane. #### Guy Gratton ##### New Member Yet what you are describing is pretty much what we do here in Britain. In the UK we have a category called "Microlight" which is slightly lighter at 450kg/990lb than Sport Pilot, and an associated Microlight Rating on the National PPL (as opposed to the more expensive European JAR-PPL). Aircraft are normally certified by BMAA or PFA at relatively low cost, with the CAA auditing us. The minimum training is 25hrs of which 10hrs is supervised solo. In practice this ends up costing a pilot about half what a full JAR PPL would cost, or about 2/3 of the cost of an NPPL with Single-Engine-Piston(SEP) rating. [All are much more expensive than learning in the US, but there are many reasons for that including high fuel costs and the British weather.] So what do we get for this system which, with tweaks, has been with us for about 20 years? At last count there were 3,600 microlights registered in the UK, which is about 20% of the total civil aircraft fleet. Costs of certified microlights start at about £1500 ($2300) for a cheap second hand single seater, with the majority of new 2-seaters costing in the bracket £15-£25k ($23-$39k). Our safety rate is around 1 fatal microlight accident per 50,000 hrs, which is about the same as helicopters and gliders, but slightly worse than certified light aircraft at around 1 per 70,000 hours.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the British system is perfect (although I'm responsible for enough of it that I clearly think it's damned good), but I think by comparison with the British system you are wrong to be quite so worried about Sport Pilot.

What I could never quite understand as a neutralish observer is why the US community went through such effort to re-invent a wheel that already exists in other aviating countries like the UK, Germany, Czech Republic and has been working for years?

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#### Holden

##### Banned
I agree with Orion for the most part. Excellent points.

I believe the Sport Pilot should not have a speed limit, only a power and weight limit. The power should be 180 hp and the weight limit 1500-1800 lbs.

The limit of 44 knots also eliminates innovation, namely what I am working on. I use "simple" flaps but do so in a new way that enhances lift yielding a much wider range than 5 knots from flap to no flaps. This eliminates my design from the Sport Pilot rules. So much for innovation...

The usefulness and SAFETY of airplane is directly related to the ability to fly slow (39 kts) and also fly with high wing loading. This requires a 15-20 knot range for flaps to no flaps. Anybody who has flown an ultralight knows how dangerous turbulence can be on a hot summer afternoon. The wide range makes it safer to fly and aids in allowing the pilot a way home when caught "out and about" when the weather changes. The 44 knot restriction should not even be part of the law. It just costs lives...

The question is how many people are killed each year by the regulations? The only way innovation comes about is through experimental and FAR 23, both of which have massive barriers to entry. There are few people willing to build an airplane, and the cost of FAR 23 is beyond $50-100 million in capitalization. There needs to be the zone of useful aircraft that 2 people can use and fly in that can justify the cost. A Sport Plane will only be a toy, and never an option to airliners for a businessperson. The gap is massive and the regulations stop innovation in the area that it is needed and useful. Again, how many people are killed each year by the regulations? Don't misunderstand...I agree with FAR 23 in principle as a MINIMUM, but the paper work and manner in which it raises costs is deadly. The purpose of the regulation should be to save lives, but I firmly believe it does the exact opposite. Any company that does not want to be sued out of business in a nanosecond must have a safe product. Having a middle-man (FAR 23) does not lead to safer products, just more paper work and old designs staying around forever. The only way a new airplane company can survive in today’s legal world is to make a high performance and safe airplane that is USEFUL. Sport airplanes are not useful, or at least not as useful as a car. The rest will be sued into bankruptcy, or never get enough volume to justify manufacture. 95% of the airplanes out there fit the bill of going out of business. The key is to allow innovation in a manufactured airplane. The Sport plane prevents innovations that are needed. So why bother... As for the medical issue...long overdue. #### spamcanfan ##### New Member Originally posted by Guy Gratton What I could never quite understand as a neutralish observer is why the US community went through such effort to re-invent a wheel that already exists in other aviating countries like the UK, Germany, Czech Republic and has been working for years? You are kidding, right? We are experts at reinventing the wheel, and then trying to claim the patent! I was recently at the Freidrichshafen show and the really interesting planes there were in the "ultralight" or under 460kg category. These planes are clean, fast, safe (with parachutes), and will mostly qualify as US Sport planes. Some will have to find a way to reduce their top speed. Engines are typically 80-100 HP Rotax or Jabiru, both decent and quiet. All are composite, and relatively inexpensive - less than 100k USD new. They drop in value pretty quickly down to the 40-50k USD range, where they seem to stabilize, making it easier to aquire one. To give you an idea of what's out there, I like these companies: http://www.fk-lightplanes.com/ and http://www.remos.com/ and http://www.esqual.com/ but there are many more. These types of planes, whether home built or certified, are the future of "sport aviation" IMHO. #### orion ##### R.I.P. In discussing this new category of airplanes, especially in comparison to European counterparts, we need to also discuss use and utility. Our company has numerous aviation related contacts in Great Britain and Europe and in our conversations of flying, it quickly becomes clear that the type of flying we do here in the States differs significantly from that done accross the Atlantic. One of the primary differences is the areas of operation. Most private flights on the European Continent are relatively short, mostly concetrated around the airport (or farmer's field) of origination. Long cross country flights are still rare and cross border flights are rarer still. Part of this is the lack of available facilities (few airports for light aircraft), part is geographical limitations, part is fuel cost and part is regulatory. Flying accross England for instance, is a matter of a few hours, even in an ultralight. Even in greater Europe, most flights are reportedly still local and within a country's boundaries. As such, there is little need for aircraft with any significant speed or utility, especially given the cost of operation that comes with those capabilities. In the US however, while there is interest in flying for fun, where the goal of the flight is just to experience the freedom of being in the air, the greater chunk of the market is always looking for at least a bit of utility so that cross-country flights are possible. Given the size of our states and the boundaries of North America, cross-country has a significantly larger definition than what is evidenced accross the sea. For many small aircraft owners (owners of small aircraft - not small people), what generally occurs is that owning the airplane eventually becomes sort of an equivalent of owning a boat - the person only takes the airplane up maybe once a month, maybe less, buzzes around the local area, and then lands again, putting the airplane away for another extended period of time. Since the flight is limited and doesn't actually go anywhere, spouses may eventually not want to come along and as such, the airplane's ownership becomes a priority of only one member of the family - not a very good recipe for a long term success. For a demonstration of this we only need to look at the history of ultralights. Within the first five or so years of its inception, the ultralight business exploded, resulting in dozens of small companies and hundreds of sales. Over the years however, the limits of the ultralight became very evident and as such, the market virtually disappeared, resulting in only a handful of companies remaining. And even in that case, many of those companies are just hanging in by the skin of their teeth. Looking at publications that list aircraft and aircraft companies can be very deceiving. The listings often show many companies with hundreds of different kits being offered. A close analysis of the business however reveals that out of all those listings, there is only a small handfull of real and viable companies still producing a product. The rest are either gone, or operating on a very limited basis out of someone's garage. Extrapolating this history, while the Sport Aircraft category may produce lines of aircraft that are somewhat superior to the classic ultralight (US definition), their lack of utility and operational limitations may make the product run a very short lived one. This then brings up the next question. Assuming that the new aircraft sell for about$80k (optimistic estimate by some opinions), why would anone be willing to spend that kind of money for something so marginal. For that kind of money I can go out and buy myslef a very nice Piper Archer or Cessna 182.

Yes, the cost of insurance, storage, annuals and fuel is a consideration but if you look at the long term issues of Sport Aircraft ownership, the requirements wont be all that different and as such, the cost of ownership will not be all that much less.

If I want a less expensive option, a good Grumman two-seat aircraft or a Cessna 150 wll cost dramatically less and still have more utility than the Sport Aircraft. Furthermore, since the new category is limited to relatively low performance numbers, the Grumman, the Cessna or the Piper will deliver as good if not better flight performance than I could get with the Sport Aircraft airplane.

So where does this leave us? With a market that will be driven by the pilot who is looking for a new, low cost airplane and is willing to spend more for it than for a better used one. It also allows those to fly who might not have been able to pass a third class medical, and those who don't want to spend the rather substantial sum to get a full private pilots license (however, if that cost is an issue, that person will not be likely to buy a new $80k airplane anyway). Is that enough of a market to entice companies to produce and certify a new product? I don't know - only the next year or two will tell. Personally, I wouldn't waste my company's resources. What then would I consider a solution? My preference would be to have the FAA get out of all aircraft related issues for airframes at or under 3,000 pounds. Piloting rules would of course still apply as would certification for aircraft used for commercial activities. But for privately owned aircraft, we would eliminate FAA certification, FAA certified annuals (allow owner maintenance and inspections), STCs, ADs, etc. The kit industry already produces airplanes that would qualify and as we have seen, the safety record of the kit industry is virtually as good as the certified one. If we remove the variables of amateur building, it is likely that the safety record would improve further. Is this likely? Let's just say I'm not holding my breath. #### Holden ##### Banned Orion, Thanks for the comments, and again, you are on the mark. I just got back from a Idaho backcountry trip to places like Big Creek (u87) in a C-182. Density altitude was around 9-10k ft. The canyons were brutal. With my wife, tent, bikes, two 30 gallons and myself we were very marginal in performance. I could see us in a Sport Plane! We would have needed three airplanes, one for each of us and the third for our bikes and gear. The c-182 is a club airplane. It cost$462.5 for 8.2 on the tach. That translated to \$0.42-0.46 per mile depending on speed. A new SUV costs more than that. By the way, my "Sport Plane" airplane stayed safe in the hangar. I saw a Glasstar at Big creek, but it had a 0-360 in it. Not a sport plane anywhere at over 20 airports.

Once the airplane has enough power to be useful as a two seater, say 10 lbs/hp, then it will go faster than the sport plane speed limit. It either needs a turbo, which is not allowed, or it is stranded at sea level, not to mention that the bikes would have to stay on the ground.

Your suggestion of getting the FAA out altogether is perhaps the way to go. I get the impression that the FAA game that is being played is actually promoted by the established firms. The NTSB usually blames the crash on "pilot error" (true most of the time) and seldom on the airplane. The certification places a large "barrier to entry” which keeps the competition down. In many cases the regulations are tailored to a specific group of manufacturers.

The sport plane game is just same toon with the small "established" microlight airplanes tailoring the regulation to their product making them legal and any innovation not allowed. Is there any data showing that an airplane that goes 125 kts vs 115 kts is any more dangerous? No! The guys who have a vested interest help make the rules. Welcome to socialism.

This quirk of government was to my advantage just recently. I have "secondary power" (a trolling motor) on my seaplane design. Most floatplanes do not. The State Parks Board put in a secondary power rule near (500 ft) docks to allow me to operate while still keeping out floatplanes that they (State Parks) did not want to deal with. Other features in my design could also have been "required" that would make my design the only airplane allowed on the lake! Serious. The Park manager knew perfectly well what he was doing. He liked my design, but did not want a C-185 on floats showing up at his dock. Taken to the extreme, I could have had most classical seaplanes banned on the lakes, and my design alone allowed. Nice how that works...

Regulations are a very effective tool in protecting a market. Once you meet the regulations, and the more difficult they are to meet, the more valuable they are. If the regulation is part of your design, or you have a good patent on it, it is money in the bank. The ultralight guys did the same thing with the low weight requirement. It backfired on them.

Perhaps it will take another 10 years before the FAA finds something else to do and gets out of light/private GA airplanes. Fat chance of that ever happening in Europe with the EU.

#### Dana

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
SP/LSA seems to have been created to address two separate issues. Which one is the main one depends on who you're talking to.

One, discussed above, is the watering down of the requirements and elimination of the medical, and the introduction of lower cost aircraft. This will make a lot of older pilots happy (but only if they didn't flunk their last medical!). I don't see the medical thing as a safety issue as I think a driver with a medical condition on a busy highway endangers the public far more than a pilot in the relatively uncrowded skies. Likewise the simpler training; it's appropriate to the lower performance aircraft they'll be allowed to fly.

The other thing is to bring all the two seat and otherwise "fat" ultralights into compliance. Most of the pilots of 2 place ultralights aren't at all happy about the increased requirements. How this will affect the ultralight industry remains to be seen. Most of the new LSA's are far from ultralights, both in performance and price. However, it has created some renewed interest in "true" ultralights.

By setting the limits where they did, the FAA did indeed eliminate many "useful" aircraft. However, that's just the point... it's a SPORT pilot certificate, the emphasis being on sport, not utility. And these new LSA's are no more "marginal" than a Cub, Aeronca, or T-Craft (all of which can be flown by a Sport Pilot).

The ultralight industry collapsed for two reasons. First and foremost was the appalling safety record of the early years, culminating in the infamous 20/20 TV expose... just as the safety record was starting to improve. The other reason had a parallel in GA in the late 1940's... the market was simply saturated and there were too many used aircraft available cheap, a situation that continues today.

I think the biggest potential problem of SP is in ultralight training... how many current BFI's will want to jump through the hoops required to become a CFI?

-Dana

#### Greg Mueller

##### Well-Known Member
I'm a little confused about a couple of points.

All I want to do is fly an overweight ultralight in G airspace. If they would have just upped the weight limit on ultralights, I would have no problem. As I understand it you have until Jan 31, 08 to convert your fat ultralight.

What happens if you don't make it in under the wire?
What about those people who are just buying an existing ultralight and want to have it moved into the sport aircraft category, but can't do it by Jan 31?
Why do these restrictions on time exist?
Is it so you can't do it?
Why does the FAA think that flying schools can just run out and buy LSP aircraft to teach in? Do they think they just have money to burn?
Do you have to have your Sport Pilot ticket to get your ultralight converted?

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#### etterre

##### Well-Known Member
I'm a little confused about a couple of points.

All I want to do is fly an overweight ultralight in G airspace. If they would have just upped the weight limit on ultralights, I would have no problem. As I understand it you have until Jan 31, 08 to convert your fat ultralight.

What happens if you don't make it in under the wire?
First things first: Your best bet is probably to buy EAA's kit and get the registration thing done ASAP.
http://www.sportpilot.org/learn/lsa/transitioning_ul_aircraft.html

:depressed Sorry, but if you miss the deadline then you would be hosed... Blakey was asked this at Osh 2007 and said that no extensions would be granted. Now, if you can modify your bird to be a 100% part-103 legal single seater then you can still fly under part 103 - she was also quoted as saying that part 103 is still sticking around.

What about those people who are just buying an existing ultralight and want to have it moved into the sport aircraft category, but can't do it by Jan 31?
They're hosed too. I'm guessing that next year we'll hear about of lot of "scams" where somebody has bought/sold an old 2-seat UL trainer that hasn't been properly registered as an LSA - and then gets hit by the FAA.

Why do these restrictions on time exist?
Is it so you can't do it?
The time restriction exists so that the bureaucrat has a stick to beat you with. Remember, part of the reason the bureaucrats allowed sport pilot to live is so that they'd be able to outlaw 2-seat ultralight trainers. Not pretty, but it's all about the politics...

Why does the FAA think that flying schools can just run out and buy LSP aircraft to teach in? Do they think they just have money to burn?
Sorry, I have no insight on these...

Do you have to have your Sport Pilot ticket to get your ultralight converted?
As I understand it, no. The registration of your machine and your license to fly the machine are completely seperate issues to the FAA. The catch is that once the machine is registered as an LSA, then you need a Sport Pilot or Private Pilot license to fly it as pilot in command. Getting your Sport pilot ticket should be fairly easy for you - as long as you can find a CFI that is willing to train you in your machine. The CFI doesn't need to be sport pilot instructor, they just need to be a current CFI.

#### Greg Mueller

##### Well-Known Member
Hey thanks for the info. I did order the transition kit from the EAA. My ultralight is only single place so I guess I will have to figure out something else for training.

Interesting dilemma....
If I fly an overweight single place ultralight I am breaking the law.
If I license/convert the ultralight but don't have a SP ticket to fly it I am breaking the law.

How'd the FAA ever get the power to run the sky? Can we take it back?
(Just a rhetorical question)