Sunday, April 1, 2007
Getting That Sport-Pilot Ticket
Sport-pilot certificates are an invitation to fly
It’s been official since September 1, 2004, and it’s working: the sport-pilot rule is a reality; light-sport aircraft (LSA) and flight training are available; and maintenance facilities are catching on. So, how does one get that sport-pilot certificate? What does it take, and how much does it cost?
The sport-pilot rule was designed to promote aviation, to bring new pilots into the fray, to make flying more affordable and to make it simpler.
The FAA asserts that the rule is intended to close some gaps in ultralight training and ultralight-trainer performance; to encourage manufacturers of small, light and safe aircraft; and to clean up some misconceptions surrounding light-aircraft maintenance and procedures.
Said the FAA, “The rule is designed to allow individuals to experience sport and recreational aviation in a manner that’s safe for the intended operations, but not overly burdensome [to the pilot].”
And veteran pilots are important in the grand scheme, too. As existing pilots age and shy away from taking medical exams, they drop out of the pilot population. The sport-pilot rule doesn’t require an FAA medical; only a state driver’s license—and the pilot’s self-appraisal of fitness to fly—are required.
Sport-pilot aircraft (airplanes, weight-shift aircraft, gyroplanes, powered parachutes, balloons and gliders) are primarily designed for recreational and training purposes. That doesn’t mean some can’t go cross-country, but it does mean that they’re not optioned-up or overly expensive.
Relatively simple airplanes are relatively inexpensive, and sport-pilot aircraft include a number of classics (which are inexpensive because of their age) and new designs. These single-engine, fixed-gear, two-seaters (maximum) need to meet a few basic criteria involving weight, maximum and minimum speeds, and complexity, but many an LSA will fit the needs of most new pilots and plenty of veterans."
What Makes It So Accessible?
“Cheap” and “easy” are the bywords. Since the aircraft are simpler, and since the operating limitations keep them in more-open airspace, training requirements for a sport-pilot certificate, the official word for license, are simpler than for a private-pilot license. Bottom line: a talented and dedicated student can get a license in as few as 20 hours of instruction, while a private ticket takes a minimum of 40. Fewer hours of required instruction saves considerable money and time.
With simpler aircraft and fewer requirements for radio work and, frequently, navigation, sport pilots can enjoy flight sooner, in “easier” airspace, in easier-to-fly aircraft. Further, a sport pilot isn’t allowed to fly at night or in instrument conditions, so a lot of additional risks are eliminated.
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Labels: Sport Pilots