GA Groups To FAA: Count Sport Pilot Training Hours

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The FAA should change its rules so hours logged by students flying with sport-pilot instructors will count toward later ratings, says a coalition of general aviation advocacy groups. Under the current rules, some instructors are certified to teach only sport pilots and only in light sport aircraft. The FAA doesn't allow dual time logged with those instructors to count toward the private pilot and higher certificates. A letter from EAA, AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Flight Instructors asks the FAA to change that rule. "Experience begins to accrue the very first day that a student pilot sits behind the controls of an aircraft," they wrote. "The aeronautical experience obtained in pursuit of a sport pilot certificate should not be discredited, in essence resetting the clock on aeronautical experience as if that sport pilot was an initial student with no previous experience."

The FAA has argued that allowing hours of training provided by a sport-pilot instructor to count toward the aeronautical experience requirement for a private certificate "would be the functional equivalent of permitting that instructor to provide flight training for the issuance of the private pilot certificate." The GA groups argue that by not allowing the hours to count, the FAA is discouraging students from pursuing further training. If sport pilots could count those hours, it would give them greater incentive to work toward higher certificates and ratings, enhancing safety, they said. "The experience gained in pursuit of the sport pilot certificate relates directly to the experience needed to obtain a recreational or private pilot certificate and should not be disregarded," the groups said.