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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Now And Future LSA

An overview: Five years in, LSA are hanging in there

The Light-Sport Plane
• Light sport aircraft (LSA) can’t weigh more than 1,320 pounds fully loaded (1,430 pounds float-equipped). If lighter-than-air, max gross weight is 660 pounds.

• LSA only can have two seats, for pilot and passenger.

• LSA must fly no faster than 120 knots, level flight, full power; nor stall faster than 45 knots.

• LSA have only one nonturbine engine and a fixed or ground-adjustable prop. The landing gear must be fixed, although amphibious floats with repositionable wheels are kosher.  

The Light-Sport Pilot
• Any person can start training at age 14, and earn a sport pilot license at age 16.

• An FAA flight medical isn’t required, only a valid driver’s license. As long as you’ve never failed or been denied a flight medical, you can fly as a sport pilot. If, however, you’ve ever been disqualified medically for flight by an aviation medical examiner (AME), then you can’t fly as a sport pilot until you clear up that medical condition and get okayed by the AME.

If you’ve never taken a flight medical and do possess a valid driver’s license, you still can legally fly as a sport pilot—even if you have a medical condition that would disqualify you on a private pilot’s flight medical.

This is the sport pilot version of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” with one important understanding: The FAA isn’t empowering potentially unsafe pilots to fly. All sport pilot ticket holders are expected to take the “mirror” test: Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I healthy and safe to fly today?” If you can’t without hesitation self-certify that you are, then stay on the ground.

An interesting nuance: If your driver’s license is suspended for any reason, even for a parking ticket or smog-device violation, you’re grounded until the situation is remedied!  

Sport Pilot’s Basic Licensing Requirements
• Apply for a student sport pilot certificate.

• Take ground training from an instructor or home-study course.

• Pass the FAA Sport Pilot written test.

• Fly a minimum of 20 hours (15 hours dual, five hours solo).

• Take two hours of dual cross-country training.

• Make 10 full-stop takeoffs and landings.

• Make one solo cross-country flight (the solo XC must exceed 75 miles and have three legs, one at least 25 nm, with full-stop landings on two legs).

• Take three hours of dual training for the FAA checkride.

• Pass the oral test and checkride with an FAA examiner.


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