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Landings: Feature: FAA Issues SPORT PILOT RULE

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Administrator mentions EAA AirVenture Fly-In as Definitive Forum on the New Rules

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. - (July 20, 2004) - During a press conference in Washington, D.C., today announcing a set of aviation regulations that will significantly reduce barriers to participation in recreational aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commended the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) for its work spanning more than a decade to promote, develop, and usher in a new era in sport aviation.

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey named EAA first among industry groups who partnered with FAA to create the new sport-pilot and light-sport-aircraft regulations, which will make basic sport and recreational aviation a viable pastime for more individuals by lowering the overall investment in training and equipment. She also designated next week's EAA AirVenture event, the association's annual showcase fly-in and convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, as the next major venue for disclosure and discussion of this new category of recreational flying.

"If you'd like to get the full depth and breadth of today's announcement, what it means to America, visit EAA's AirVenture next week at Oshkosh," she told reporters. "If you're looking for grassroots aviation, the grass is not going to be any greener anywhere than at Oshkosh this year."

In discussing the appeal of sport aviation, Blakey related an experience she had at EAA AirVenture 2003. "I had the pleasure - and I do mean pleasure - of flying one of these aircraft out at Oshkosh. It was a FlightDesign CT, and I flew it with a pilot for about 30 minutes. It was like a bird, being out there. As I recall, we were at about 3,000 feet. It was a spectacular view. It tells you why this rule is so important to so many people. It was nothing short of an incredible experience," she said.

When the new regulations take effect Sept. 1, the door to such experiences will swing wider for more aviation enthusiasts. "Getting wings just got considerably less expensive with one stroke of the pen. And on top of that, light-sport aviation just got considerably safer," Blakey said.

In a private meeting following FAA's media briefing, EAA President Tom Poberezny met with FAA's entire sport pilot rulemaking team and the entire administrative team to share congratulations and to express thanks.

"When you've been working on something such as this you often wonder how you're going to feel when it really happens. I can safely say there is nowhere else in the United States or on the planet that I would want to be than here," Poberezny said of being at FAA Headquarters for the announcement.

With these regulations, FAA has created two new aircraft airworthiness certificates: one for special light-sport aircraft, which may be used for personal as well as for compensation while conducting flight training, rental or towing; and a separate certificate for experimental light-sport aircraft, which may be used only for personal use. The regulations also establish requirements for maintenance, inspections, pilot training, and certification.

The agency expects the return of thousands of pilots who left aviation because of high costs, and a significant influx of new entrants enticed by the dramatically lowered obstacles. It also anticipates that the regulations' safety requirements should also give this segment of the general aviation community better access to insurance, financing, and airports.

Complete information is available at EAA's sport pilot web site at

EAA, The Leader in Recreational Aviation, is an international association with 170,000 members and 1,000 local chapters. To join EAA or for more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or go to



Sport pilots will be limited to operating aircraft that meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft (see About Light-Sport Aircraft on this website). That includes aircraft in the following categories:

  • Airplanes (single-engine only)
  • Gliders
  • Lighter-than-air ships (airship or balloon)
  • Rotorcraft (gyroplane only)
  • Powered Parachutes
  • Weight-Shift controlled aircraft (e.g. trikes)

A sport pilot applicant must:

  • Be a minimum of 16 years of age to become a student sport pilot (14 for glider)
  • Be 17 years of age before testing for a sport pilot certificate (16 for gliders).
  • Be able to read, write, and understand the English language.
  • Hold either a current and valid U.S. driver's license or an FAA airman's medical certificate.

Medical Certification

To obtain a sport pilot certificate you must either have a FAA airman medical certificate or a current and valid U.S. driver's license issued by a state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, a territory, a possession, or the Federal government.

You then must comply with the restrictions placed on whichever method you choose. For example, if you choose to use your driver's license as your medical certificate, you must comply with all restrictions on that license. In addition, and this is very important, you must not act as a pilot- in-command of an aircraft if you know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make you unable to operate the aircraft in a safe manner.

However, a pilot who has specifically been denied a medical certificate because of a medical condition that the FAA has judged would make the person unable to operate an aircraft in a safe manner is not eligible to use a drivers lecense as a medical. When a pilot is denied a medical, he or she obtains a letter from the FAA that has the specific word "denied" in the letter. If you have not received sucha letter, then you can use a drivers license as a medical. If you have obtained such a letter, your recourse is to obtain at least one special issuance 3rd class medical before acting as a sport pilot.

Restrictions on a sport pilot certificate:

  • no night flights;
  • no flights into Class A airspace, which is at or over 18,000' MSL;
  • no flights into Class B, C, or D airspace unless you receive training and a logbook endorsement;
  • no flights outside the U.S. without advance permission from that country(ies)
  • no sightseeing flights with passengers for charity fund raisers;
  • no flights above 10,000' MSL or 2,000' AGL, whichever is higher;
  • no flights when the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles;
  • no flights unless you can see the surface of the earth for flight reference;
  • no flights if the operating limitations issued with the aircraft do not permit that activity;
  • no flights contrary to any limitation listed on the pilot's certificate, U.S. driver's license, FAA medical certificate, or logbook endorsement(s);
  • no flights while carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire (no commercial operations);
  • no renting a light-sport aircraft unless it was issued a "special" airworthiness certificate;
  • any qualified and current pilot (recreational pilot or higher) may fly a light-sport aircraft.
  • a light-sport aircraft may be flown at night if it is properly equipped for night flight and flown by a individual with a private pilot (or higher) certificate who has a current and valid FAA airman's certificate.

Read the complete RULE:

... available as PDF or WORD formats.

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