The FAA finally made public this afternoon its proposed rules creating a new pilot certificate—sport pilot, and a new category of certificated aircraft—light sport. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) is now available for public comment.
Light sport aircraft are simple, low-performance aircraft limited to 1,232 pounds maximum weight, a single non-turbine engine, stall speed of 39 knots, maximum airspeed of 115 knots, and fixed landing gear. Of currently certificated aircraft, J-3 Cubs, Aeronca Champs, and early model Taylorcrafts would likely fall into the light sport category. Cessna 150s and Aeronca Chiefs would not. The proposal would regulate aircraft that are too large to be ultralights, but too small to economically meet current FAA certification standards.
The new sport pilot certificate, which would allow pilots to fly light sport aircraft, could be obtained with about 20 hours of training. Sport pilots would need either a third class medical certificate or a valid state driver's license to fly. Two new aircraft category and class ratings would also be created—weight-shift-control and powered parachute.
AOPA staff is carefully examining the proposal and preparing a summary of its important provisions and an issue brief explaining the implications of each provision.