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FAA weighs sport pilot rule changesFAA weighs sport pilot rule changes

With some four years of real-world experience behind it, the FAA is zeroing in on proposed changes to the sport pilot rule.

In addition to the 22 proposed changes that were already announced earlier this year, AOPA wants to see the aircraft gross weight boosted beyond the current 1,320 pounds. This could allow the inclusion of a bigger group of existing production airplanes such as the Cessna 150. It would also allow room for advanced safety equipment like emergency parachutes.

As AOPA pointed out in its formal comments, it also wants the FAA to clarify in the rules that flight training time gained while pursuing a sport certificate can be counted toward the requirements for a private pilot certificate.

Some of the proposed changes, which were published April 15, already drew pilot comment. Among them is the plan to alter altitude limitations—now set at a maximum of 10,000 feet msl—to include an agl limitation. This would increase the operating window for pilots who live in mountainous terrain. Another change to the rule would allow the use of light sport aircraft in Part 141 flight training programs.

Other changes, which AOPA is opposing, would replace proficiency checks currently done by flight instructors with checks done by pilot examiners, and retroactively require sport pilots to receive one hour of flight training on the control and maneuvering of an airplane solely by reference to instruments.

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