Changes to Sport Pilot finalized

The FAA has announced changes to the Sport Pilot regulations, addressing issues the agency says have arisen since it first issued the rules for Light Sport Aircraft in 2004. The amendments, which become effective April 2, also will bring Sport Pilot ratings more in line with requirements for other ratings, according to FAA officials.

The FAA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in April 2008 on the issues, inviting public comment. GA’s alphabet groups submitted comments, with the FAA accepting some and rejecting others.

The main changes will permit Sport Pilots to fly higher in mountainous regions and gain towered airport experience in weight-shift or powered parachute aircraft. LSAs may be used by flight schools, a move that is expected to reduce the cost of flight training.

In general, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) said the final rule was acceptable, and noted it did not significantly change the intent of the original rule that brought the new category of flight.

In the NPRM, the FAA listed 22 proposed changes. Seven were withdrawn entirely. Some of the changes include:

  • Permit Sport Pilots and students to fly up to 10,000 feet msl or 2,000 feet above ground level, whichever is higher;
  • Remove a requirement for Sport Pilots and instructors to carry their logbooks while in flight;
  • Remove a requirement for make and model endorsement to operate a specific set of aircraft;
  • Remove a requirement that flight instructors log at least five hours of training in a make and model of LSA before providing training in any aircraft from the same set of aircraft in which the training is given.

Charles Spence is GAN’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.


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