MEMBER ALERT: AOPA is closed today, March 5, due to inclement weather. We will reopen March 6 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.
Visit AOPA's Sport Pilot Web page for the latest information.
FAA Administrator Marion Blakey on Tuesday, July 20, 2004, officially unveiled the long-awaited Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft rule that allows many pilots to fly light sport aircraft with a valid driver's license in lieu of a medical certificate and creates new, less-expensive ways to become a pilot.
The Sport Pilot rule creates a new segment of the GA industry - sport pilots, light sport aircraft, and light sport aircraft repairmen. The rule has provisions for obtaining sport pilot student certificates, sport pilot certificates, flight instructor certificates with sport pilot rating, airworthiness criteria, and repairmen certificates with an inspector and/or maintenance rating.
A significant benefit for AOPA members in the Sport Pilot rule is the ability to utilize a driver's license in lieu of a medical certificate. This allows pilots, who are otherwise healthy but who choose to not renew their medical certificate, to continue flying in light sport aircraft. This rule DOES NOT allow pilots to fly aircraft heavier than 1,320 pounds, such as Bonanzas and Cherokees, without medicals.
Flight Instructor Certification:
Pilots already holding a flight instructor certificate may provide flight instruction in light sport aircraft for which they hold the appropriate category and class ratings.
Light Sport Aircraft:
Repairman or Inspection Certificate for Light Sport Aircraft-
From the beginning of this nine-year process, AOPA pushed hard for a driver's license medical standard that would allow already-certificated pilots to fly light sport aircraft immediately - and many of the provisions that AOPA sought have been included in the final rule.
In its comments to the rule docket, AOPA told the FAA that the Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft proposed rule is a needed step forward to provide a lower cost alternative to the current private pilot certificate. AOPA also persuaded the FAA to accelerate issuing and implementing a final rule on the airman portion of rule, to allow sport pilots to fly some seven existing certificated aircraft (like a Piper Cub) that meet the light sport aircraft definition, using a driver's license for a medical certificate.
AOPA believes this rule will help many lapsed pilots return to flying and could have a positive effect on the cost of learning to fly, bringing new people into flying. AOPA said the agency should go even further and extend sport pilot privileges to recreational pilots. That would mean that recreational pilots could use a current driver's license to meet the medical requirements and that they could fly in Class B, C, and D airspace with the proper flight instructor endorsement. If adopted, AOPA's recommendations would effectively extend the benefits proposed in the sport pilot certificate to a much larger group of aircraft such as a Cessna 172 or a Piper Warrior.
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