How to count training by a Sport Pilot instructor

A gentleman at Oshkosh asked me a question about Sport Pilot instructors and I’m afraid I gave a misleading answer. Even though I inhabit the Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft space all day, every day, it isn’t hard to get a detail incorrect. My expertise is on the LSA side and less so the SP side, so I called in my expert friend, Paul Hamilton, who answered the question “Can Sport Pilot training be used for Private Pilot training?” by saying “Yes…and no.”

It depends on the type of flight instructor rating, he said, explaining: “First off, solo time is solo time. So, yes, all solo time for a Sport Pilot certificate can be used towards the Private Pilot license. Dual training is where it gets tricky. To understand the differences in qualifying Sport and Private Pilot training you have to understand the differences in flight instructor types. A CFI (Subpart H) able to train Private Pilots can also train Sport Pilots and can teach in both LSA and non-LSA. A Flight Instructor with a Sport rating, CFIS (Subpart K), may only teach Sport Pilots and may only teach in Light-Sport Aircraft.”

So, if your flight instructor is qualified and current as a Private Pilot Flight Instructor (CFI), then all your dual training time counts towards the Sport and the Private Pilot tickets. When you start training — even if you complete your Sport Pilot certificate first — all your dual training with a Subpart H CFI counts towards the Private Pilot license. But if your flight instructor has a Flight Instructor with a Sport rating (CFIS from Subpart K), then your dual training does not count towards the dual training for the Private Pilot license.

The good news from Paul? Typically, to go from a Sport to a Private Pilot would take an additional 20 hours anyway for the extra night, instrument, VOR navigation, and towered airports dual training.

And, remember, one thing no one can take away or fail to count is the knowledge you acquired flying a LSA, regardless of which instructor you had.

For more on Sport Pilot/LSA:

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