The FAA has opened for public comments a petition submitted by AOPA and three other associations urging that flight instruction from sport pilot instructors logged by sport pilot applicants be eligible to be counted toward higher pilot certificates.
Members are encouraged to submit comments in support of the petition that, if granted, would give sport pilots greater incentive to pursue further flight training, and recognize the cumulative value of their aeronautical experience in the spirit of the final sport pilot rule enacted in 2004.
In January, AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), and the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) petitioned to amend FAR 61.99 and 61.109 to clearly “permit the instruction time received in pursuit of a sport pilot certificate to be credited toward the instruction requirements of additional certificates and ratings.” Pilots wishing to earn recreational or private pilot certificates would still be required to receive training from a certificated flight instructor on all areas defined under the knowledge and flight proficiency requirements of that certificate.
The associations urged the amendments as a fix for the flaw pointed out by FAA legal staff that was preventing student sport pilots from counting their training flight hours received from sport pilot instructors toward higher certificates and thus discouraging them from pursuing additional training. A July 24, 2009, FAA letter of interpretation argued that allowing time logged with an instructor with a sport pilot rating to count toward a private pilot certificate would be “the functional equivalent of permitting that instructor to provide flight training for the issuance of the private pilot certificate.”
In response, the associations pointed out that when the FAA proposed the sport pilot rule in 2002 it signaled its intent to credit flight time earned during training with a sport pilot instructor toward the higher certificate.
The associations have been pressing the FAA to correct this situation since the letter was issued and petitioned for the rule change in January.
Members can submit comments online under Docket FAA-2011-0138.