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The future of Part 103

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cptcliffhanger

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The lack of dual instruction is a severe challenge. "

it's a challenge that the hang gliding and paragliding community has managed to overcome. I don't see why we couldn't take a play from the USHGA playbook and have dual training flights in part 103 legal. hell they're even doing flights for hire 100% in the form of "pay for a scenic ride" just by having you purchase a 1 day membership to the USHGA and say it was a training flight on paper.

S
 

jedi

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"Don't tell the PPG guys that....

And PPGs are all LEGAL 103..."

Never seen one of those either.
I can not see a paraglider in the photo either.

PPG are like UFOs if you don't believe in them you can't see them.

Those things in the Avitar are my anti gravity boots. Less than $30 from the local SE Asia outlet store and a legal Ultralight.

:ban::ban::ban::ban:
 
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WBNH

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Part 103 is barely visible in my corner of the world. In fact, our local ultralight group (USUA 202 / EAA UL 67) folded up shop after last year. Good community, but with a dwindling population. Some of which is still active, having joined forces with a group out of Massachusetts. In truth, there were very few ultralights affiliated with the group for a long time. More accurately it was an LSA group. Almost all two-placers and vintage, etc. instead. A natural evolution I suppose.

As for the regulations, remember no one likes to regulate. Regulations are reactionary, not proactive. In fact, the relevant regulations we cite weren't at all written to help us in any way. 103 was written to absolve the FAA of any responsibility. As UL's weren't commercial aircraft, they wanted nothing to do with them. Hence "vehicles" instead of "aircraft." So they're not on their plate. Similarly, the LSA rule was written to remove the need for FAA to police the two-place fat ultralights that were routinely being illegally operated under the training exemption by people who weren't instructors. They had neither the manpower, energy, or desire to commit any effort in policing these activities. So they wrote the simplified licensing and registration requirement to rid themselves of the need to play cop (O.K, and for safety sake to guarantee there was some training required before you could give your friends rides. What rich medically-challenged individuals and the industry turned LSA into only came later.)

If no one makes someone change the rules, the rules don't change. It takes enough peeing in the pool, enough complaints, enough needless death due to lack of safety, or enough blatant rulebreaking to force them to put forth the effort. Even then, they'll write the rule that makes their job easier and benefits them, not the flying public. Note, this is how the weight increase should have been approached years ago...if collectively there were a demonstration of a community standard--if not industry standard--something closer to 300 lbs is the actual weight necessary for safety, they likely would have changed it to avoid having to put forth any effort policing illegal activities later. Tacitly they know this...which is probably why examples of policing are largely anecdotal.

If there's a potential for the demise of 103 (inasmuch as it apparently still exists out where the sky is endless and development slight) I'd suspect it will coincide with any airspace reclassification they may come up with--probably beginning with the furor over UAV's. Hopefully, and probably, they'll just get their own standard and ultralights stay ignored and won't get caught up in it. But if it results in Class G and E getting "clarifications" then who knows.

People with acreage like their unregistered dirt bikes, but put them on the road and they need lights and registration. Once all airspace is thought of as 'road' and none of it as 'wilderness', there'll be no 103. Just registered single seat LSA's, with licensed pilots.
 
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jedi

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it's a challenge that the hang gliding and paragliding community has managed to overcome. I don't see why we couldn't take a play from the USHGA playbook and have dual training flights in part 103 legal. hell they're even doing flights for hire 100% in the form of "pay for a scenic ride" just by having you purchase a 1 day membership to the USHGA and say it was a training flight on paper.

S
The 254 pound max empty weight is a pretty good reason. If you can find a solution for that you have something of value.

Then there is the issue of storage. You or the instructor can pack up the paraglider or hang glider and take it home. No need to pay $500 per month for a hangar at an airport. See all the threads about rigid wing folding and storage in a 20 foot shipping container or trailer.
 
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Dana

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...I don't see why we couldn't take a play from the USHGA playbook and have dual training flights in part 103 legal. hell they're even doing flights for hire 100% in the form of "pay for a scenic ride" just by having you purchase a 1 day membership to the USHGA and say it was a training flight on paper.
We had that, BFI's operating under the old training exemption program. It was widely abused, the FAA knew it, so SP/LSA was created. The fact that ultralights were getting farther and farther from the powered hang gliders that they started as didn't help, either. The training exemptions still exist for hang- and paragliders because they're close to the original intent of 103, and too far from the norm of what the FAA wants to get involved with.

What really killed UL training, though, was money and the people who turned LSA into a way for aging pilots to fly Cubs and modern Euro plastic planes without a medical, instead of the way to legalize 2-seat ultralights it was originally sold as. Then the UL industry, such as it is, made it illegal to use former "UL trainer" ELSAs for paid training, forcing instructors to buy new SLSA's... which were so expensive as certificated aircraft that nobody could afford to buy them. Why would anybody pay upwards of $50K for a Quicksilver when they could get a Cub or Champ in good condition for half that?
 

radfordc

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Don't tell the PPG guys that....

And PPGs are all LEGAL 103...
Correct. If you read the USUA magazine each month you will find lots of articles about powered parachutes, gyro copters, and LSA's. Hardy ever a fixed wing UL.
 

radfordc

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Part 103 is not actually dead here in Los Angeles, there are two major hang gliding sites within the general city limits.
If UL is alive anywhere I would expect it to be So Cal. Out of a population of 18 million how many UL flyers are there....100, 500?
 

mcrae0104

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Never seen one of those either.
One flew under me yesterday. He was probably enjoying some nice ridge lift along the front range, but he was three or four thousand ft below so it's hard to say!
 

jedi

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If UL is alive anywhere I would expect it to be So Cal. Out of a population of 18 million how many UL flyers are there....100, 500?
Actual UL flyers that have flown a rigid wing ultralight in the last 6 months, probably about 0.000002%.

Wanabe UL flyers that would like to fly as in the birdman hoax, probably several thousand. Judging by the popularity of the video, likely many times more.

<iframe width="480" height="274" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GYW5G2kbrKk" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>
or
http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/03/22/dutch-artist-admits-faking-viral-human-bird-wings-video.html

Make it roadable and similar to riding a bicycle to work and I would say hundreds of thousands. Consider if one in one hundred cyclists had the option of a motorized hybrid bicycle/UL how popular that wold be. Right up there with the Jetsons and drone like PAVs (Personal Air Vehicles).
 

pictsidhe

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It's the human carrying multicopters that worry me with 103. They can't glide, so a propulsion failure at altitude is unlikely to end well. They are just the sort of thing people are going to want to fly from their backyards, which will often mean a congested area. While I persoanlly believe that they don't meet 103, if enough of them hit the news in a bad way the FAA may decide enough of ANY unregulated air vehicles. Much like 103 training by people claiming the training exemption but doing something entriely different.
 

Topaz

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If UL is alive anywhere I would expect it to be So Cal. Out of a population of 18 million how many UL flyers are there....100, 500?
If you're talking about Los Angeles and Orange counties, and guys who actually fly fixed-wing UL's within the boundaries of those counties, I strongly suspect the number is, or is rapidly approaching, zero. I know a very few people who live in the Basin and fly their ultralights outside of it, after a couple of hours' drive, and two of the three have already spoken up in this thread. About half of the guys at the UL club (USUA 002) at Perris Airport in Riverside county came from the LA/OC area at the time I was visiting them several years ago, but that group seemed about ready to age out and die anyway, and recruiting new UL pilots didn't seem to be much of a priority. They certainly didn't want to have anything to do with you getting your USUA UL flight training cert, which the airport manager required to fly UL's there.

There are several active hang-gliding and para-gliding sites, mostly on the coast, but there seem to be fewer of those every year, as places to land are either built upon or restricted from use by liability concerns of the land owners. Maybe I'm just not in the right spots, but I've never seen a PPG here. Ever.

It's the human carrying multicopters that worry me with 103. They can't glide, so a propulsion failure at altitude is unlikely to end well. They are just the sort of thing people are going to want to fly from their backyards, which will often mean a congested area. While I persoanlly believe that they don't meet 103, if enough of them hit the news in a bad way the FAA may decide enough of ANY unregulated air vehicles. Much like 103 training by people claiming the training exemption but doing something entriely different.
I'm hoping, hoping, hoping they end up with their own reg, and that they're excluded from Part 103 altogether. The only thing they have in common with ultralights is a desire to do without pilot certification, but they very much want to operate over "congested" areas, and that's a marked difference. Given how popular I expect they'll become, I'm hoping the FAA comes up with a specific rule for multi-copters and leaves 103 as it is now.
 
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Victor Bravo

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To address the one big problem that everyone agrees on... it seems that the UL world (and public safety) would benefit greatly from bringing back the two seat UL trainer/instructor 103 exemption, and just putting whatever new controls or regulations onto that system are necessary to prevent the abuse and "pencil-whipping" that caused the problems previously.

The FAA by all rights should be fairly supportive of this concept because it is a clear improvement in public safety, flight safety, airspace incursions, and evening news stories about the crash in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

The UL manufacturers should be very supportive because more and better instruction would result in less crashes with their product, less product liability suits, etc.

The USUA, EAA, AOPA and other pro-aviation groups would support it because it improves safety and brings more people into their membership rosters.

The UL pilot and wannabee pilot community would support it because they would have more instruction available than is there now.
 

jedi

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Concerning the intigration of drones and ultralights

........


I'm hoping, hoping, hoping they end up with their own reg, and that they're excluded from Part 103 altogether. The only thing they have in common with ultralights is a desire to do without pilot certification, but they very much want to operate over "congested" areas, and that's a marked difference. Given how popular I expect they'll become, I'm hoping the FAA comes up with a specific rule for multi-copters and leaves 103 as it is now.
Topaz,

I really do not want to cause you to loose sleep over this but I know of a project to build a 50 pound drone that could be operated as an ultralight by a light 10 year old. It has a 50# useful load and five mile range. The kids would love to ride one to school and back. They can send it home autonomously when they get to school and use a cell phone to call it back after school or the sports practice session. They can also send to to pick up their best friend. Welcome to the new world!

And for VB in Post #34 - Yes but that would make sense and be a symptom of a functioning government to say nothing of the air traffic problems it would create.
 
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BBerson

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To address the one big problem that everyone agrees on... it seems that the UL world (and public safety) would benefit greatly from bringing back the two seat UL trainer/instructor 103 exemption, and just putting whatever new controls or regulations onto that system are necessary to prevent the abuse and "pencil-whipping" that caused the problems previously.

The FAA by all rights should be fairly supportive of this concept because it is a clear improvement in public safety, flight safety, airspace incursions, and evening news stories about the crash in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

The UL manufacturers should be very supportive because more and better instruction would result in less crashes with their product, less product liability suits, etc.

The USUA, EAA, AOPA and other pro-aviation groups would support it because it improves safety and brings more people into their membership rosters.

The UL pilot and wannabee pilot community would support it because they would have more instruction available than is there now.
The main problem is lack of trainers. The SLSA rule has made light trainers impossible. So the exemption needs to return for the trainer aircraft (at least) so we can build our trainers. I don't think the aircraft were ever a problem.

It isn't that hard to comply with the Light Sport Instructor rule. The majority of new instructors would be existing pilots with lots of experience. Keeping the Light Sport Certificate would give the FAA something to revoke. So abuse shouldn't happen since certificated competitors know who is flying.....
As it is now even a 10,000 hour CFI can't teach in an ultralight.
 

BBerson

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I think the UL instructors could charge for instruction under the exemption. Can't under experimental unless you have an FAA Authorization for that make. So no incentive for anyone to offer instruction. More to it than that, but my head hurts.
 

Topaz

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Concerning the intigration of drones and ultralights



Topaz,

I really do not want to cause you to loose sleep over this but I know of a project to build a 50 pound drone that could be operated as an ultralight by a light 10 year old. It has a 50# useful load and five mile range. The kids would love to ride one to school and back. They can send it home autonomously when they get to school and use a cell phone to call it back after school or the sports practice session. They can also send to to pick up their best friend. Welcome to the new world!
Doesn't cause me to lose sleep at all. I would've thought that was the Coolest Thing Ever when I was ten years old, all parts included. I have no problem with the "rise" of multicopters. Amazing bits of technology.

But one thing I can pretty confidently say is that such a craft will never be, with that mission description, a Part 103 ultralight. The very core of Part 103 is "not hurting anyone but the operator," and that extends from the single-seat restriction to the prohibition against flight over "congested" areas. The FAA will never modify that part of 103 to allow flight over towns, cities, and especially over and into schools and other areas where kids and adults gather in numbers. It goes against the most basic concepts of Part 103. I'm not sure why any of these multi-copter companies think they'll ever get some kind of waiver for operation of their product over congested areas. I can only suppose they haven't read the preamble of 103 and also AC103-7.

I think the mission requirement you've described is awesome, with caveats of course, but that's going to require an entire new regulation, likely a whole new Part, before such vehicles are allowed over "congested" areas. Very likely with certification requirements involving redundancy and reliability, more than any Part we've had before. It'll be an exciting and likely profitable opening of aviation to "the masses", and that's going to annoy a lot of traditional pilots, but I see it as inevitable. My only hope is that "traditional" recreational Part 103 UL's are largely unaffected by this new type of flight.
 

blane.c

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The only way I can see that you would reconcile training for ultralights is to require some level of flight and ground instruction, this would require more regulation and oversight. I think it is a bad idea, half teaching a person to do anything is a bad idea, and heaping liability for a bunch of partial pilots on the instructors isn't fair either. The other side of it is that a certain amount of people are going to go out and die because they don't want to spend money on instruction and that is not good for the longevity of 103 either. Maybe require that those without instructed time do their first few flights in a foreign country, maybe their deaths won't be so sensational if they perish out of the country.
 
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