Sport pilot interpretation renews debate

August 12, 2009

Regulations do not permit training from a sport pilot instructor to be applied to meet the dual instruction requirements for a private pilot certificate, a recent letter of interpretation from the FAA chief counsel states.

AOPA, EAA, and GAMA continue to object to the rule as it stands and advocate including a change in the FAA’s upcoming bundle of modifications to the sport pilot regulations.

“This rule as written requires student pilots who want to transition from seeking a sport pilot certificate to a private pilot certificate to start over again with respect to the flight-instruction requirement,” said AOPA Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs Rob Hackman. “The industry has been working with the FAA’s Flight Standards office to bring the rule more in line with the intent of the sport pilot regulations.”

The chief counsel letter, written in response to a formal request from a reporter, reiterates the FAA’s interpretation of the sport pilot rules as they were written when the category was first created. According to the FAA, a student may apply all solo time and total flight time received from an instructor with only a sport pilot rating toward training for a private pilot certificate;  dual time with that instructor cannot count toward the dual time required for the private pilot certificate.
AOPA, EAA, and GAMA signed a letter in June asking the FAA to clarify that training received from a sport pilot instructor can be applied to the hours required for a private pilot certificate. AOPA previously submitted comments on the FAA’s proposed changes to the sport pilot rule requesting the same clarification.

The proposed changes, issued in a notice of proposed rulemaking in 2008, would revise many aspects of the sport pilot/light sport aircraft regulations. A final rule is expected in November.