...And What Changes May Come

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The proposed rule -- one of the most complex in FAA history -- would establish a new sport pilot license with a minimum of 20 hours of flight training, use of any state driver's license for medical qualification, and day VFR flying with one passenger or solo. Sport pilots could be endorsed to fly any of five categories (single-engine airplanes, land or sea; glider; gyroplane; powered parachute or weight-shift powered hang glider) that meets the requirements. Former KITPLANES Editor Dave Martin speculates that the weight limit may move up to 1300 pounds gross as recommended by many including the EAA, and that gyroplanes will be allowed factory-built status -- not simply amateur-built status -- as indicated in the proposed rule. As proposed, LSA would be limited to 1232 pounds maximum gross, 115 knots maximum level at full power, maximum 44 knots stall speed and no more than two seats.

As for pilots, it could be that many future participants would have very few changes to make. Many amateur-built Experimental aircraft and a few certified aircraft (Piper J-3 and Aeronca Champ, for example) could qualify, as would new ready-to-fly LSA Specials and nearly complete LSA Experimental kits. Pilots with higher licenses could choose to fly LSAs without renewing their FAA medicals -- meaning that older private pilots could simply transition with the lapse of a medical and adherence to the new rules.