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LSAs for IFR? Why Not?

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Last weekend, a rep from Flight Design, Brian Boucher was in town with Dan Johnson to demo the CTLSi, with Rotax's new 912 iS engine. During the course of shooting video, something came up in the discussion that frequently does: Can you and should you fly LSAs under IFR? On the trip down from New England, Boucher told me he had run into a bit a weather and had to scud run under it for a while before eventually parking it. Like many of us, he's not comfortable filing and driving the thing through the clouds, although it's lavishly equipped enough to make child's play of such an effort.

I've had the same discussions with a number of people in the LSA community, from owners, to sales reps, to interested bystanders. This time, we decided to push to test, so we got out the CTLSi's POH. This is always amusing exercise because LSA POHs are world-class studies in equivocation. They give the word dissembling a bad name. The CTLSi's POH has words to this effect: "Flying it in IFR without the necessary training is extremely dangerous. As the pilot in command, you are responsible for the safety of your passenger as well as for your own safety. You are also responsible for the safety of uninvolved third parties. Avoiding dangerous situations is a pilot's first duty." However, a careful reading of the engine limitations reveals that Rotax prohibits IFR for the 912 engines.

I don't know about you, but I'm way good with the foregoing. It's essentially telling me not to do anything stupid and it's leaving it up to me to determine how to define stupid. Since I do not define flying in IMC within reason in an LSA as stupid, you can see where I'm going with this, which is that I wouldn't hesitate to fly in the clouds with a properly equipped LSA. Unfortunately, Rotax spoils the fun by requiring a Part 33 engine.

Otherwise, as I read it, properly equipped means it's supposed to have certain TSO'd equipment including basic radio navigation gear and gyros. Eastman Aviation, which makes a line of LSAs based on the Zenith line, agrees with this interp and will sell you an IFR-capable LSA, but it will have steam gauges instead of the very capable Dynon glass that's also available because the gyros are TSO'd and the glass isn't. If I were equipping an LSA specifically for IFR, I'd put the glass on the left and a TSO'd electric gyro on the right and probably never look at it.

When I covered the Renegade LSA a year ago, Doc Bailey, who runs the company, had the same outlook. Although ASTM recently issued guidance that new designs aren't to be approved for IFR, manufacturers of older ones are left to their own devices to approve IFR or not. Bailey's idea—a good one—is to simply amend the POH to approve IFR for the specific buyer of the airplane, contingent on training from the company. Perfectly sensible, no?

Then there's the ever-annoying "spirit" argument. The spirit being that LSAs were never intended for IFR flight, but are meant for sunny day excursions across down. Evolution is rapidly rendering this argument even more moot than it was the moment it was first advanced. For a sunny day excursion, why are we seeing $170,000 LSAs with dual-redundant glass, autopilots and traffic systems? Is all this going to dissolve if flown into a cloud? I doubt it.

Obviously, there are limits to what kind of weather an LSA can fly in and that requires judgment to negotiate, but that's no different than flying a 172 or a Cirrus in weather. You can't fly either of those in just anything. My idea of LSA IMC is no chance—or low chance—of icing or lightning and nothing too low. For me, that would be about 500-foot ceilings and at least 3 miles of visibility. I'm not too interested in a long slog in IMC, either, so low tops that I could get above would be another requirement. There are plenty of days that meet that requirement, but probably more that don't.

I actually like the POH's reminder to "avoid dangerous situations," which it leaves up to me to determine. That's the essence of being PIC. It further points out the responsibility to uninvolved third parties, which is a legalistic way of saying don't do anything that would put your little airplane into someone's living room. That's a good rule to live by; flying in a cloud of itself doesn't necessarily have any bearing on it.

I don't have a sense how many people are flying LSAs under IFR using these mushy, gray-as-a-ghost rules, but I suspect some are. If it's done sensibly and with restraint, why not?

The blog will be taking a little hiatus until after Christmas. I wish everyone the best for the holidays.

Comments (88)

This has been a very contentious issue in the ASTM F37 committee and indeed I resigned from that committee over the way it was handled.

The problem is that some LSA are suitable for flight in IMC and others are not. Sadly many of the most popular ones are clearly not suitable for this purpose. The reason is they are made from plastic material that is not "Bonded" electrically. That means they are subject to catastrophic structure failure if exposed to lightning. This problem could have been prevented if the manufacturer considered this application in their design, but most of the plastic S-LSA makers did not.

In the case of metal structure LSA there is no overwhelming reason they cannot fly in IMC. Of course this is likely to be a handful if there is turbulence since all LSA have very light wing loading in the neighborhood of 10 pounds per square foot.

My advice to LSA pilots is to be extra cautious about flying these planes in weather. This goes double for plastic LSA. Anyone considering flying one of those planes in IMC should get approval from the manufacturer first.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 24, 2012 2:55 AM    Report this comment

Paul ... EXCELLENT question and analysis.

When "LSA" was first established, the goal was a ~$50K average cost for a reasonable machine with limited instrumentaion. That never materialized. When the average cost rose above #100K, the limited usefulness of the machine started becoming an issue. Now that a full up CTLSi is ~$170K + tax, who in their right mind would sell a certificated airplane like, say, a C172 to move down to LSA. And, what person would get into flying without a medical for that cost, as well. Now that the number of ASTM standard LSA designs has crossed over 125 machines yet the total number of "pure" light sport pilots is insufficient, in MY mind ... Light Sport is just not meeting its initial goal of being an entry level means of becoming a pilot.

I would LOVE to own a CTLSi. I'm in love with the new Rotax. But ... I'll be damned if I'm going to sell my C172 and PA28 and then have to treble what I'd get for both to buy a CTLSi equipped machine.

Dan Johnson can extoll the virtues of light sport all he wants. Unless and until they can be made more useful, all they are good for is toys for people with more money than they know what to do with. And, why are we trying to make a glass paneled LSA like a Gulftream and then telling its owner that he can't effectively "use" all that stuff.

NUTTY !!!

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 24, 2012 3:31 AM    Report this comment

Larry - Light Sport airplanes do exist in the $50K price range. That is about What I paid for my Zodiac XL. Of course I had to build it myself from standard kit. Mine has dual Dynon screens and is very nice to fly under VFR and possibly IFR (but I am not instrument rated). Also, IFR requires the 3rd class medical certificate.

Perhaps the high prices for European factory built S-LSA puts them beyond reasonable purchase for simple recreational flying. If the dollar were not under constant attack by the administration and the Fed the prices might be a lot lower.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 24, 2012 5:42 AM    Report this comment

"Also, IFR requires the 3rd class medical certificate."

Can you point me at the regulatory citation for that?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 24, 2012 6:01 AM    Report this comment

Paul is quite correct. No medical is explicitly required for IFR if not required for the basic operation (ATP, commercial, private, sport pilot). A good example is flying a glider under IFR. No medical is required at all, even if you failed your last medical.

Posted by: S.V. Massimini | December 24, 2012 6:54 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I should have said IFR in LSA requires a medical certificate. S.V. Massimini is quite correct. I suppose you can fly a glider IFR without a medical. Alas, I've never heard of an IFR equipped glider, but that could be my problem.

The medical requirement for IFR in LSA comes from the fact that real Sport Pilots can only fly day VFR. Higher rated pilots can fly without a medical by reducing their privileges to those of a Sport Pilot and using the medical requirement for Sport Pilots - a driver's license. So a private pilot with instrument airplane rating can only fly VFR and day time without the 3rd class medical certificate.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 24, 2012 7:02 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I think you're conflating the pilot with the airplane. A sport pilot can't fly IFR in anything; the certificate doesn't list that privilege.

As I read the regs trying to construct the path whereby an instrument-rated private pilot can't fly IFR without a medical, I don't find it. He or she does have to be current with a flight review and current with IFR requirements under 61.57, but I don't find a direct connection between operation under IFR and a medical requirement.

There are indeed IFR-capable gliders, albeit not many. The ones we know about have been for weather research.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 24, 2012 8:03 AM    Report this comment

One of the strongest early arguments for LSA, aside from the alleged less expensive cost of both the airplane and the certificate, was avoidance of the medical requirements--self-certifying: "I'm OK, because I think I'm OK". When I became medically disqualified after my cancer diagnosis, the thought of giving up my well-equipped, well-maintained, albeit almost 5 decades old P172D, which I had lavished significant money on to make it what it is, in favor of a similarly expensive, similarly equipped LSA was out of the question. I would have been prohibited from taking more than one passenger, I could not do Angel Flights, I could not climb above 10,000' MSL except in the mountains--even taking my dog along would have been nearly impossible. So I jumped through the Special Issuance hoops, and I'm glad I did--I now know so much more about being safe medically that I can't imagine self-certifying.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | December 24, 2012 8:48 AM    Report this comment

If a pilot is going to spend the time and money to become instrument rated and purchase an airplane which is light instrument capable, then with all due respects to the LSA industry, he/she ought to spend the little extra effort to be medically qualified to fly an airplane without all of those restrictions. My take is this: If you can't qualify for a Special Issuance medical, that is a really good reason not to be flying as PIC. If you really think you, without any medical training, can determine whether you're safe to fly medically, then as the saying goes, "I have a bridge."

So the final question has to be, if factory built LSAs cost as much or more as a good, well-maintained albeit used "real" airplane, and qualifying for a Special Issuance medical isn't nearly as hard as the rumors and misinformation that is out there, why would anyone saddle him/herself with the limitations of only flying an LSA? VFR or relatively benign IFR, they're simply not as capable as a "real" airplane.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | December 24, 2012 8:49 AM    Report this comment

"why would anyone saddle him/herself with the limitations of only flying an LSA? VFR or relatively benign IFR, they're simply not as capable as a "real" airplane." I guess I just don't understand what a "capable real airplane" is. http://lsaeronaut.blogspot.com/2012/11/reviewing-numbers.html I prefer to fly an airplane built in this century with the latest technology available. I'm not really hung up on the 3rd class medical implications.

Posted by: Dave Fisher | December 24, 2012 9:17 AM    Report this comment

I seem to recall a requirement that an aircraft needs to be equipped not only with TSOd avionics, but also with a certified engine and prop for IFR operation. Those IFR Zodiacs that were sold had Continental O200s, if memory serves, so no problem. But much of the LSA fleet is Rotax 912 equipped. Yes, there is a certified version of that engine available - for an extra $10k or so! Beyond the purchase price of a certified Rotax, there are the hidden costs. As an LSRM with Rotax Heavy Maintenance training, I can maintain and inspect a non-certified 912. Not so the certified one, which requires an A&P to repair, and an IA to inspect. I can't use the same non-certified parts for routine maintenance, but have to buy approved, certified equivalents for three times the price. All to punch through a thin cloud layer to VMC on top (which I can't legally do anyway without a medical, despite Paul B's statements to the contrary). Until these regulatory impediments are eliminated, IFR in a well equipped LSA will remain a pipe dream.

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 24, 2012 10:00 AM    Report this comment

Lots of different Pipistrel aircraft are registered as gliders and or light sport glider and airplane if you look on the FAA website. Lots of options with gliders. The 200 hr kit for the Sinus with TSO'd min required instruments and a nice Dynon would be legal for IFR with the regular "non certified" Rotax. 115kts at 3 gallons an hour.

Posted by: Dave Bowman | December 24, 2012 10:28 AM    Report this comment

"which I can't legally do anyway without a medical, despite Paul B's statements to the contrary"

If this is true--and maybe it is--show me the legal path. Cite the regulations. I sure can't do it. If it doesn't say you can't, you can.

Same with the engine, Paul. Show the legal citation. There are lots of experimentals out there flying IFR with uncertified IO-390s. If they're not legal, I can't figure out why.

Always willing to be educated, tho.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 24, 2012 11:48 AM    Report this comment

Paul B. - I tried to dig into the FARs to find the answer to your question: (essentially) where is a private pilot with instrument airplane rating restricted from flying IFR in LSA?

My answer is: FAR 61.303.2.ii which identifies the subject pilot and says he must fly with the limits of 61.315. FAR 61.315.C.5 restricts night flying, .12 restricts flight with less than 3 miles visibility, .13 requires the surface be visible.

I suppose this means the pilot in question cannot fly in IMC rather than saying he can't fly IFR. This could justify this pilot filing and flying under instrument flight rules but he must avoid IMC. For all practical purposes this precludes practical instrument flight.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 24, 2012 12:04 PM    Report this comment

I think the IFR issue in S-LSA with a non-IFR Rotax engine is prohibited by Rotax. The way the rules are written the manufacturer of S-LSA must approve what operations are allowed and this extends to the engine manufacturer too. Put differently, it is not the rules that require a certified engine for IFR it is Rotax.

I believe you can fly any properly equipped airplane IFR if you have the appropriate rating and medical certificate. You need to consider the exception where an S-LSA manufacturer prohibits IFR flight. This would not apply to certified planes or experimentals.

If I have it all straight, you can even fly an experimental equipped with a non-IFR Rotax under IFR. The restriction that the manufacturer must approve that mode of flight is limited to S-LSA (and maybe E-LSA).

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 24, 2012 12:26 PM    Report this comment

Paul B., the restrictions on a pilot with lapsed medical come from FAR 61.303(a). It's convoluted, but says:

"If you hold (2)only a US driver's license...and you hold (ii) at least a recreational pilot certificate with a category and class rating... then you may operate (A) any light sport aircraft in that category and class... and (1)... but you must comply with the limitations in 61.315."

Next, 61.315 says:

"(c) You man not act as pilot in command of a light-sport aircraft: (5) at night... (12) when the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles... (13) without visual reference to the surface... (15) contrary to any operating limitation placed on the airworthiness certificate of the aircraft being flown"

In the case of my S-LSA, for example, the Operating Limitations issued by FSDO say: "(5) This aircraft is to be operated under VFR, day only, unless appropriately equipped for night and/or instrument flight in accordance with 91.205, and when allowed by the manufacturer's operating instructions."

Now, 91.205 (d) specifies instruments and equipment required for IFR. It does not specifically mention the certified engine and prop requirement -- that appears in one of the maintenance regs that, unfortunately, is not in the FAR/AIM, but is in the FAR/AMT (which is in my office -- I'll check it after Christmas and post here.)

[to be continued in another post]

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 24, 2012 12:41 PM    Report this comment

Continuation of my previous post:

The other sticking point is in 91.205(d)(5), "when allowed by the manufacturer's operating instructions." I suppose an S-LSA manufacturer could so allow, but I don't know that any have actually done so. Which, as I interpret the regs, limits my aircraft to VFR only, even if the lapsed medical certificate were not an issue (which, I believe, it is).

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 24, 2012 12:42 PM    Report this comment

On further thought, I believe that, even if the S-LSA manufacturer's operating instructions were to permit IFR operation, FAR 61.315(c)(5), (12), and (13) would trump them. So, flying in IMC would be prohibited, even if flying under an IFR flight plan were not.

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 24, 2012 12:57 PM    Report this comment

61.315 applies to the sport-pilot certificate, not the private pilot. However, you need a valid medical to act as PIC for the private pilot, and as far as I know, there isn't an instrument-rating add-on for the sport pilot, so my understanding would be you need a valid medical to act as PIC on an IFR flight plan. (Not that I'm an aviation attorney, so I could be wrong).

Posted by: Gary Baluha | December 24, 2012 12:59 PM    Report this comment

So, flying in IMC would be prohibited, even if flying under an IFR flight plan were not.

No, this isn't correct. Part 91 is blind to the actual weather, except for landing requirements and flight in icing under placarded aircraft limitations. To fly under IFR, all the currency is required, aircraft must be properly equipped regardless of weather. And to fly in IMC, you need to be under IFR, if not always with a clearance. (Uncontrolled airspace loophole.)

Like Gary says, 61.315 applies to the sport pilot, not the private pilot flying an LSA. Yet a private pilot flying the LSA doesn't require a medical. But he can't exercise his instrument privileges in a certified airplane without it. That's not true of an LSA because the reg doesn't say that.

This is glass half full, half empty. I'm trying to find a way to make it work, while others look for reasons why it can't. I'm sure, if asked for an interp, the FAA would find the glass not even on the table.

Although someone told me an interp was sought by someone and the FAA demurred on a precise answer. In the end, the best way to go is worry less about finding a loophole to prevent one thing or another and more about common sense operation of the airplane.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 24, 2012 1:23 PM    Report this comment

The Light Sport rule was supposed to save aviation as a doorway to entry from the bottom up, with some regulation of the thriving two seat ultralight industry. This the promise of LSA promoters such as Tom Poberezny, Dan Johnson and the industry leaders like CT.

But it killed the existing two seat ultralight industry and replaced it with $200k 180hp Carbon Cubs. Hardly entry level. And now you want to push the rule to include IFR? The only solution that might bring back the entry level industry is to create a new ASTM lower class. For this, I suggest the old 495 pound and 87 kt limit would work. This class should be exempt from the current ASTM standards. The current standards are almost as bad as FAR 23 and FAR 33 . In fact, they are almost word for word identical in some parts. No new engine has met the ASTM standards yet in U.S. This proves my case. Bill Berson

Posted by: Bill Berson | December 24, 2012 1:41 PM    Report this comment

I went back and looked in an older CTLS POH and although the aircraft limitations section says only that the engine isn't a Part 33, the engine section clearly states: aerobatics and IFR are prohibited. So for this engine and this airplane, those have the force of regulation.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 24, 2012 2:04 PM    Report this comment

ASTM F2245-04 is limited to VFR flight:

1.2 "This specification is applicable to the design of a light sport aircraft/airplane as defined by regulations and limited to day VFR flight.

The 2009 version may be different, but these things are hard to find for non- members. The ASTM website shows "out of print"

Posted by: Bill Berson | December 24, 2012 2:27 PM    Report this comment

Gary wrote: "61.315 applies to the sport-pilot certificate, not the private pilot."

I can see why one might think that, taking 61.315 out of the broader context of 61.303, but it's not the case. Consider 61.303(a)(2)(A)(1), which applies to "at least a recreational pilot certificate with a category and class rating." It say

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 24, 2012 2:44 PM    Report this comment

My previous posted while I was still typing! To make it more complete:

Gary wrote: "61.315 applies to the sport-pilot certificate, not the private pilot."

I can see why one might think that, taking 61.315 out of the broader context of 61.303, but it's not the case. Consider 61.303(a)(2)(A)(1), which applies to "at least a recreational pilot certificate with a category and class rating." It says: "you must comply with the limitations in 61.315." So, 61.315 *does* apply to private pilots with lapsed medicals, by reference.

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 24, 2012 2:46 PM    Report this comment

Paul B. Please take a look at FAR 61.303.2.ii. It clearly applies to pilots with higher ratings than Sport Pilot. This reg clearly prohibits flight in IMC through FAR 315.

I would like to remind all folks following this convoluted conversation that there is a big difference between aircraft that meet the Light-Sport definition in FAR 1.1 and aircraft with S-LSA airworthiness certificates. It is the S-LSA that have issues with instrument flight. A Light-Sport airplane might have a standard airworthiness certificate (type certificate via Part 23) or an experimental amateur built certificate which do not restrict these planes from IFR operations. The pilot still needs at least a private license and medical certificate for IFR ops.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 24, 2012 2:54 PM    Report this comment

Exception. You don't need a medical to fly a properly equipped motorglider IFR. No medical is required for Gliders. Many motorgliders cruise much faster than 120kts. Again No medical is required.

Posted by: Dave Bowman | December 24, 2012 4:32 PM    Report this comment

Dave, you're absolutely right, of course. I happen to love motorgliders (just got my self-launch endorsement last June). My discussion was in fact focused on airplanes.

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 24, 2012 4:37 PM    Report this comment

Cary, your attitude regarding who should act as PIC is disturbing. I for one am glad you're not in charge of the FAA. perhaps not everyone is so willing to let the government decide ones' fitness to do something they let 17 year old kids do. We're flying planes. Not exactly rocket science.

Also, what exactly is a "real airplane"? The 64 year old certified steed of mine or the new rv12 I recently flew? Funny, but that RV12 cruised faster, climbed faster, responded better and used less fuel. Oh, did I mention it had auto pilot? Other than not being able to carry more than one pax, I'd take the RV over your 172 every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

My experience with those who slam LSA's is that they have problems piloting anything that doesn't plow through the sky like a truck. Don't be afraid. Just grab an instructor and get some training on stick and rudder techniques along with some crosswind training.

Posted by: Jay Manor | December 24, 2012 7:59 PM    Report this comment

Yes, new, fully equipped S-LSAs are expensive. However, used CTsw's can be had for half the price of a new CTls. And the new alpha trainer from Pipestrel is well under $100K.

So, all the bitterness about LSAs seems odd to me. Better if these planes didn't exist? Better if the SP rating didn't exist? You don't like self-certification? Show us the data that the class III medical reduces crashes. As far as I can tell, it just pushes medical issues underground.

I do know this, I wouldn't own an airplane and I wouldn't have 500 hours if it weren't for the SP rating and the S-LSA rule.

Posted by: Fred Gerr | December 24, 2012 8:14 PM    Report this comment

Jay, I have also noticed an animosity toward LSA but really can't quite figure out why. In these discussions I usually see that they are not the $50K promised, are not entry level equipped, or are only used by folks unable to get a 3rd class medical and are therefore dangerous. Seldom is the technology discussed, or the low operating costs or the pure fun of flying considered. I just flew my little 2 seat VFR airplane on a long xcountry. Total round trip distance was 4263 miles, 38.4 hours for an average of 111 MPH (ground speed). I spent ~ $1500 for ~ 260 gallons of fuel, which yields ~ 16 MPG. (Cheapest at KADS for MOGAS.) We reached a new record altitude of 11720' over the Grand Canyon. I was 'in the system' with Flight Following and there were times I would have preferred to have been VFR on top. It would have been nice to punch through a layer IFR to get there, but it didn't stop my trip. I consider my LSA a real airplane, and if available I would pursue getting a IPC just for those times when 'light' IFR was possible.

Posted by: Dave Fisher | December 24, 2012 8:27 PM    Report this comment

Dave, sounds like a great trip. I only know one person around my airport that owns or rents a "real" airplane that has ever undertaken that type of ambitious flight. I do know two men that flew their LSA's from Michigan to Alaska, twice.

I see plenty of four seat "real" airplanes with two or three empty seats taking off. I don't have a problem with it - to each their own. Perhaps people are just comfortable with what they know and afraid of what they don't know. We have a good group at my airport and we joke about it. "Real airplanes and real pilots" And, don't forget single engine vs. dual. It goes on and on and on.........

Posted by: Jay Manor | December 24, 2012 9:22 PM    Report this comment

Paul, we'll just have to agree to disagree on your interp. I don't see it as all that plainly stated.

Merry Christmas to all.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 25, 2012 6:21 AM    Report this comment

OK, I give up. What part of this don't you see applying to a private pilot with instrument rating and no medical regarding flying in IMC?

(ii) At least a recreational pilot certificate with a category and class rating, (A) Any light-sport aircraft in that category and class, (1) You do not have to hold any of the endorsements required by this subpart, but you must comply with the limitations in § 61.315 .

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 25, 2012 7:25 AM    Report this comment

Dave F., I need to chat with you off-list. Can you ring me up at home? I sent you my phone number via SportPilotTalk PM, in case you don't still have it. Thanks.

Merry Christmas to all the fine pilots involved in this spirited discussion. Safe skies, Paul

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 25, 2012 8:33 AM    Report this comment

OK, we're talking about the medical, not IFR in LSA overall. Agree with you there. It is a convoluted way to get there, that's for sure.

This is all the more reason to kill the third class requirement, in my view. Here we have two schools of thought: One to try to make the airplanes more utilitarian and useful, another seeking out fine-point ways that the FAA says you can't do that.

This is good for aviation? Can anyone explain why? No wonder the industry is on its ass.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 25, 2012 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Yes, we are on the same page now. A pilot needs a medical cert to fly IFR. Light-Sport airplanes can fly IFR unless they are S-LSA and the manufacturer forbids it.

There is some argument you can make that any S-LSA or only S-LSA built after a certain date are prohibited from IFR flight by ASTM F2245. This is odd because ASTM is not a regulatory agency and cannot enforce such a restriction. Still, that prohibition is published in F2245-11 (I think the year code is correct). This nonsense prohibition is the one that I disagreed with and left the F37 committee over.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 25, 2012 12:12 PM    Report this comment

I'm afraid of changing this whole discussion to be about the 3rd class medical. However, I agree with you. It serves no good purpose except to keep the biased bureaucrats in the FAA aeromedical branch employed.

If the entire 3rd class medical is abolished or even the requirement to have one to fly IFR then I would probably spend the year or more and flight costs to get an instrument rating and use it. I will not go to all that trouble and expense to get the rating if it is against the rules for me to fly PIC IFR since I do not have and cannot get a medical certificate without being grounded for life. This has nothing to do with my health. It is about the unjustified bureaucratic prejudice against certain prescription drugs.

The truth seems to be there is no way for the FAA to agree to eliminating their turf rights over private pilots in the medical area. The last proposal by Mr. Wartofsky to limit the need for 3rd class to airplanes over 5,000 pounds was rejected with the stupid comment "Huh? That would allow people without a medical to fly in class A airspace! We can't have that."

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 25, 2012 12:20 PM    Report this comment

Paul Mulwitz, I think you could suggest to the F37 committee this: if IFR approval is to be approved for SLSA, it should be done with a completely new additional ASTM standard for IFR airplanes. I don't think those that want a sporty, nimble sport plane should be forced to comply with stability rules that may only be needed for a proper IFR airplane. There should be multiple standards for manufacturers to choose from. This could include several lighter categories, that I mentioned before. These "one size must fit all"standards are harmful. The ASTM should have the flexibility to do this. Not possible with FAA.

Posted by: Bill Berson | December 25, 2012 12:44 PM    Report this comment

Bill, There are a few problems with your idea.

First, I am no longer associated with the F37 committee.

Second, F37 is only about LSA. A new aircraft type would require a new committee.

Third, The IMC question is not about whether the aircraft family is suitable for IMC operation, it is about whether it is allowed. This is just not a legitimate role for ASTM. Deciding what is allowed and what is not is a role for national regulating agencies like the FAA while ASTM is all about standards. ASTM has no enforcement power.

One more comment - The FAA is actively looking into using an ASTM-like consensus process to replace part 23. This is a good idea, but my own experience with F37 suggests the FAA should be very careful about having review and appeal processes to keep the rules from being violated without any recourse.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 25, 2012 1:22 PM    Report this comment

Bill, in theory, the ASTM requirements for basic stability are the same as for Part 23. The airplanes don't get a pass for being light and sporty. They are supposed to pass basic static and dynamic stability tests.

The fact that at least some don't shows a weakness in the ASTM system, not the specs themselves. Manufacturers do their own inspections and documentation. Some are better than others.

That's what the recent and ongoing audits are all about.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 25, 2012 3:25 PM    Report this comment

The one item I have not seen mentioned is IFR Certification of the individual aircraft. That is completion of the 91.411 and 91.413 inspections. In my experience as an avionics tech this seems to be forgotten on most LSA,s. The 91.411 is required even if not flown ILS.

Posted by: Oliver Martin | December 25, 2012 6:58 PM    Report this comment

As a long-time member of the F-37 committee I can't begin to tell you how many discussions over the years have been held on the topic of S-LSA and addressing IFR. Topics included, engines, TSO'd parts, structure (stressed for 'bad' weather), etc., etc., etc.

One issue Paul M memntioned and I want to emphasis: this only applies to new S-LSA designed to the ASTM standards. Also, E-LSA (whether built or orphaned) are not included because the owner becomes the manufacturer and can 'authorize' operating limits and restrictions.

Finally, as mentioned, at the request of the FAA, ASTM has formed a new committee F44 to work on at least some of the FAR 23 issues. The next meeting is in January in Florida. All interested parties are encouraged to join ASTM, the committee and participate.

Posted by: Richard Norris | December 26, 2012 6:26 AM    Report this comment

Thanks, Richard.

I'm tempted . . .

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 26, 2012 7:23 AM    Report this comment

Jay and Dave, sorry to ruffle your feathers. We're comparing apples to onions, I think.

My concerns about self-certifying one's own medical condition comes from the realization that I was sorely mistaken when I thought I was fit to fly, the FAA medical people disagreed, and they were right. Not that they'll always be right, but in my exploration of the rationale for their decision, they most often are. To put it bluntly, I learned a lot. On medications, it's often not the medication itself but the underlying medical issue that the medication treats that is their concern, although in some cases the side effects of some medications are also legitimate issues.

My "real airplane" comments essentially are that if I have to spend $100,000 for an airplane, I prefer an airplane that doesn't have the restrictions on it that apply to most LSAs, i.e., altitude, night, VFR only, one passenger, power, CS prop. With my 172, which has 180hp and a CS prop, is IFR certified and capable, I can safely and legally carry 3 passengers in reasonable night IMC at 12,000' MSL. Granted, I may choose to fly alone or with only one other person aboard, but I'm not legally restricted from carrying more.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | December 26, 2012 9:34 AM    Report this comment

Incidentally, Jay, suggesting that I need to learn to get some stick and rudder training is a bit of an unnecessary ad hominem insult. I've been flying for 40 years, hold SE Commercial, IR, CFI, CFII--although the instructor ratings lapsed in 1987 when I didn't renew them. I may not be the best pilot out there, but believe me, I can handle an airplane well, including significant crosswinds. I've owned and flown high performance singles. I doubt that I'd have any trouble flying any LSA within its limits.

My point in my part of this discussion is simply that the whole sport pilot movement, both the airplanes and the certificate, appears to have failed to help aviation, because of the excessive cost of the airplanes and the regulatory limitations on both the airplanes and the sport pilots.

Posted by: Cary Alburn | December 26, 2012 9:35 AM    Report this comment

LSAs are not cheap and as you know the rating is very limited. The biggest scam is the Light Sport flight instructor. Most of these guys have a private pilot certificate and not one minute of instruction given by these guys counts toward a private pilot certificate. If you want a LSA certificate you should get instruction from a "real" flight instructor. The average private pilot applicant has 67 hours; does anyone thing a LSA pilot is safe with 20 hours. The only reason to get this limited rating is to avoid the FAA medical. We all know how bad the aeromedical branch has become and but unfortunately there is little we can do. VFR flight into instrument conditions is a major cause of GA fatalities and no instrument instruction is required for the LSA certificate. If a third class medical requirements were more realistic the problem would be solved.

Posted by: Patrick McBurnett | December 26, 2012 10:20 AM    Report this comment

Cary, good post, thanks. I suppose we all evaluate our purchasing decisions based upon our specific mission requirements. $100,000 would not buy a "real" airplane that met 90% of my requirements. My LSA does.

Also, lets not confuse airplane limitations with Sport Pilot limitations. I fly my little LSA at night and we occasionally get above 10K feet. I carry a 3rd class and fly as a private pilot. Outstanding fuel economy with the Rotax, I don't have the need for a CS prop and see cruise TAS at about 110kts. I don't know many people that regularly fly with 3 or people, I mostly fly solo. So, except for IFR flight, I really don't feel restricted. PLUS my operating costs are much better than what I had calculated for non LSAs. (and the 'fun factor' is simply amazing.) When I weigh all of this against the cost of an equally equipped "real" airplane there is no contest.

Posted by: Dave Fisher | December 26, 2012 10:32 AM    Report this comment

Cary, point taken. However, don't be fooled by your experience. Statistics show that the majority of accidents in LSA are caused by pilots moving from non LSA to LSA. You will find the EAA and FAA recommend exactly what I stated regarding stic/rudder/crosswind training. Your experience in what you've flown is only your experience in what you've flown. All careful pilots get training when moving to a different aircraft.

Posted by: Jay Manor | December 26, 2012 10:46 AM    Report this comment

Patrick, where do I begin? SP instruction from a PPL CFI does indeed count toward instruction toward a PPL. Regarding hours of instruction, show me anyone who obtained a SP cert in twenty hours. You cite the average for PPL but then the minimum for SP. regarding VFR flight into IMC resulting in an accident, did you know close to fifty percent of those accidents involve instrument rated pilots?

Posted by: Jay Manor | December 26, 2012 10:58 AM    Report this comment

In addition to the appropriate comments about LSA's being self certified by the manufacturer and not being subjected to lightning and other tests, my concern is with the LSA pilot. I've already experienced one flying just above the clouds underneath me (at the wrong altitude with no flight plan) as I was just emerging from IMC , of course on an IFR plan, on an airway . As an FAA official told me years ago, such nonsense will only end after a midair with an airliner.Several LSA pilots I have spoken to did not appreciate the risk to others, including their passengers, of such bravado practices.

Posted by: louis simons | December 26, 2012 11:44 AM    Report this comment

It turns out high end LSA are more difficult to fly than TC'd (Part 23) planes. This is a result of the standards being somewhat less restrictive regarding handling. It is also a result of the misunderstanding by some "Real" plane pilots that since LSA have 2 seats they fly like the old 2 seat trainers. These LSA are not trainers. They are high performance sport planes that look like trainers and catch the unwary.

I am not saying an experienced pilot will take a long time to transition to LSA. I do say such transitions should be taken seriously. They really are significant changes which require significantly different piloting styles.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 26, 2012 12:03 PM    Report this comment

>>in some cases the side effects of some medications are also legitimate issues <<

This is simply wrong. There have been many studies commissioned by DOT that all say there is no significant transportation safety issue with use of prescription medicines. The FAA refuses to accept this scientific finding. Instead, they have their prejudices and will not change them.

The use of a state driver's license is a much more legitimate way to judge pilot health and fitness to fly than any FAA medical certificate. When any person is diagnosed by any doctor with a condition that clearly makes driving unsafe the state is notified immediately and the driver's license revoked. This only happens with clearly incapacitating conditions such as ones that cause random unconsciousness rather than the mostly benign ones the FAA uses for denial like diabetes and high blood pressure.

It turns out around 10 percent of pilots with medical certificates fly while using drugs that would get them grounded if admitted to the FAA. The Sport Pilot limitation on pilots really applies only to pilots who want to fly without lying to the FAA aeromedical folks.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 26, 2012 12:15 PM    Report this comment

Paul Mulwitz - "I am not saying an experienced pilot will take a long time to transition to LSA. I do say such transitions should be taken seriously." 100% agreement, plus...I found that transitioning to an SR20 was difficult. Steam gauge to glass, that funny side stick, the canted glare shield made it almost impossible to line up properly in the flare, etc, etc. Helicopters are difficult, Light Sport Airplanes are...'challenging'.

Posted by: Dave Fisher | December 26, 2012 12:48 PM    Report this comment

louis simons - "Several LSA pilots I have spoken to did not appreciate the risk to others, including their passengers, of such bravado practices." Nope, not buying it. Its that "we vs them" argument again. Just not fair to label the whole LSA pilot community that way.

Posted by: Dave Fisher | December 26, 2012 12:58 PM    Report this comment

Jay you need to read the regulations. Read 61.109. 20 hours of instruction from an authorized flight instructor is required for a private certificate. Sport Pilot flight instructors are not authorized to teach private pilots. Read 61.413, it will tell you only sport pilot training is authorized by sport pilot instructors. If you do not believe me check with your local FSDO. If you want to be flight instructor get a commercial certificate, an instrument rating and a real flight instructor's certificate. Private pilots require minimum of 40 hours and most do not make it in 40. Sport Pilots are required to have a minimum of 20 hours. You can't seriously think a pilot is safe in the current environment with 20 hours and no instrument instruction. As I stated the real reason the Sport Pilot was started was the lack of a medical. The Aeromedical branch has become very difficult. Since I no longer fly airliners full of people I should not have to meet as stringent standards. A friend of mine has prostate cancer and lost his medical. My doctor friends tell me this is nonsense. They FAA has expanded their disqualifications and have made everyone fear the medical. I do not know where you get your data but surely you can't believe instrument training is not very valuable.

Posted by: Patrick McBurnett | December 26, 2012 1:01 PM    Report this comment

I'd love to see the third class medical requirement go away, myself...because I'll never be able to get one again, and yet I'm as safe to fly now as I was in the 1990s.

My Zodiac was an XLi, explicitly equipped for the kind of IFR flight that Paul is talking about. I bought it that way so that, if the FAA ever came to their senses and allowed a private to exercise the full privileges of the ticket without the medical in that plane, I could have gotten my instrument ticket and used it. The economy intervened. I hope the guy who has it now is as happy with it as I was.

And yes, it had an O-200. Indeed, that was part of my selection criteria; there are no Rotax mechanics near me.

Posted by: Jay Maynard | December 26, 2012 1:12 PM    Report this comment

Patrick - I think you should back off a little bit on Jay. I happen to know he is one of those Sport Pilot Instructors you seem to think are less talented than they need to be. I expect the restriction on dual instruction by SP instructors toward higher certificates to be changed. I know there are plenty of people pushing for that change.

Sport Pilot certificates are intended as a starting point for people who don't want to spend $10,000 on a private pilot certificate. It is also a reasonable set of skills for those who want only to fly in severe clear weather in their own local area. That said, I do agree it is almost criminal to let anyone fly as PIC with no instrument training at all. I think that shortcoming in the original SP training requirements has either been changed or is in the process of being changed.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 26, 2012 1:32 PM    Report this comment

Jay, I'm glad to hear you found a buyer for your lovely XLi. I still regret not having bought it; the timing of FAA's over-reaction to the perceived design issue came along at exactly the wrong time for me. I'm sure the new owner is enjoying it greatly. As for the Rotax engine, there were no qualified Rotax mechanics near me, either. So, when I ultimately bought a Rotax powered LSA, I ended up having to become one! Turned out to be a great business opportunity, as I am now the only Rotax Heavy Maintenance certified mechanic around here. But, the O200 is definitely a good choice. Just wondering what you're flying now. 73 and Safe Skies, Paul

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 26, 2012 1:42 PM    Report this comment

Paul M, there was an FAR change two years ago, requiring minimal instrument training prior to solo XC, for any SP candidate flying an acft with cruise speed greater than 87 kts. I personally require my students to get more hood time than the FAA requires. In fact, any CFI is able to set standards more stringent than the FAA minimums, and the good ones mostly do.

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 26, 2012 1:49 PM    Report this comment

Dave- Read Patrick's comment about 20 hours and very limited instrument training. Also, some LSA salesmen oversell the capabilities of the plane, a trap for the unwary or ignorant buyers and users. My concern is not with the former private or commercial pilot who lost his medical certificate.

Posted by: louis simons | December 26, 2012 1:51 PM    Report this comment

Dave- Read Patrick's comment about 20 hours and very limited instrument training. Also, some LSA salesmen oversell the capabilities of the plane, a trap for the unwary or ignorant buyers and users. My concern is not with the former private or commercial pilot who lost his medical certificate.

Posted by: louis simons | December 26, 2012 1:51 PM    Report this comment

Dave- Read Patrick's comment about 20 hours and very limited instrument training. Also, some LSA salesmen oversell the capabilities of the plane, a trap for the unwary or ignorant buyers and users. My concern is not with the former private or commercial pilot who lost his medical certificate.

Posted by: louis simons | December 26, 2012 1:51 PM    Report this comment

All, I count six different topics being discussed on this thread, all of them important. Each of them has its own thread on SportPilotTalk.com, and (as moderator of that forum) I invite you all to join the discussions there.

Safe skies, Paul

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 26, 2012 1:54 PM    Report this comment

All, I count six different topics being discussed on this thread, all of them important. Each of them has its own thread on SportPilotTalk.com, and (as moderator of that forum) I invite you all to join the discussions there.

Safe skies, Paul

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 26, 2012 1:54 PM    Report this comment

Patrick posted: "the real reason the Sport Pilot was started was the lack of a medical. " That may indeed be the reason many pilots exercise SP privileges, but it certainly wasn't the FAA's motivation in establishing the rules. Their main priority was reigning in all the lawless renegades flying uncertified, unregistered aircraft without any semblance of regulation or control, under the auspices of Part 103 (a rule that the FAA came to regret ever implementing). So, all those scofflaws now fall under the FAA's wonderfully protective umbrella, and we're all that much safer.

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 26, 2012 2:02 PM    Report this comment

Patrick, you did not understand my post. 1. If a SP receives his/her SP cert from a PPL CPI, that training counts toward a PPL 2. I never said instrument training is not valuable. I said almost half of all VFR into IMC that results in an accident is done by instrument rated pilots. The point being the superior than thou attitude of training for IMC does no good without recurrent training. How often does a PPL rated individual get recurrent hood training? 3. I was pointing out to you that 20 hours is the minimum but I don't know of anyone tha tcan do it in 20 hours. 4. " real flight instructors certificate". I can't help you with your attitude regarding SP instructors. I guess there were no accidents at all with the entire pilot community prior to the SP rule going into effect. That NTSB accident history must all be fiction.

Paul, I'm not an instructor but did spend the night at a Holiday Inn Express once. :)

Posted by: Jay Manor | December 26, 2012 2:09 PM    Report this comment

I think the discussion has gone far from the original intent of the article. The question, it seems to me, Paul B. was posing was why can't you fly these machines under IFR in light IMC? Forget the medical and certificate issue. Let's assume you're an IFR rated pilot and hold a 3rd class medical -even if it was a special issuance. The question now becomes one of the aircraft and it's capability which is what I believe the original question was. We are now asked to pay $170K+ for these high quality aircraft. And many of us do. I think the reason some of us do, even though we are fully rated pilots, is that these designs have captured our imaginations, demonstrated high efficiency, are equipped better than many certified designs, and look better than those certified designs.

The most impressive thing to my mind is that after a decade of LSAs drilling holes in the sky, none of them are falling out of it because they're built under ASTM rules. I don't know about you, but I think it's kind of like thumbing our collective noses at the FAA and proof positive that certification costs WAY TOO MUCH. Wasn't that at least part of the reason our industry took on this experiment in the first place? A big we told you so.

Posted by: Doug Hohenstein | December 26, 2012 2:20 PM    Report this comment

Imagine now that rather than your shiny new Ranagade (my favorite LSA design so far) isn't an LSA but an experimental. There are a lot of experimentals out there flying IFR behind the same panels and engines todays LSA aircraft sport. If I'm properly trained and current, my aircraft sports dual Dynons etc, and the weather isn't horrible, why the hell can't I file and fly through the marine layer to get on top and on my way? No good reason other than the fact the plane says LSA on its pedigree. So let us dispense with the notion that these aircraft are not capable of flying through limited IMC and admit that these LSA, at least at the higher end, are test beds for what our industry can do without too much government intervention.

Posted by: Doug Hohenstein | December 26, 2012 2:20 PM    Report this comment

louis simons - "about 20 hours and very limited instrument training." Agreed. Plus, I never felt that 40 hours was a good metric for Private Pilot. The number of hours is a poor measurement for a pilot's ability. Hopefully instructors teach well beyond the PTS in order to give each student some sense of real world experience. But I think your argument is with the FAA and the implementation of its rules, not with LSA and the pilots that fly them

Posted by: Dave Fisher | December 26, 2012 2:52 PM    Report this comment

Jay Manor, I was referring to Jay Maynard regarding SP instructor.

I saw a study that determined the inadvertent IMC was indeed fatal for 50% of those folks running into it and it didn't matter whether they were instrument rated or not. What did matter was how old they were when they learned to fly. Those who learned young did a lot better than those who learned at advanced (40+ ?) ages. I don't think recurrent training is the issue here it is how well the pilot surprised by IMC adjusts to the new condition. We all know how to do a 180 on instruments but only some of us can avoid panic when this need arises.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 26, 2012 5:34 PM    Report this comment

Doug, I agree with you and so does the FAA. You need to distinguish between Light-Sport as defined in FAR 1.1 and planes with S-LSA airworthiness certificates. A plane with E-AB airworthiness certificate can fly IFR just like any other E-AB plane regardless of whether it meets the Light-Sport definition. It is only S-LSA planes that are subject to limitations by their manufacturers against IMC. These planes are built under a completely different set of rules from both E-AB and Standard certified planes.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 26, 2012 5:39 PM    Report this comment

1) Putting on my CFI-SP hat for a moment: Any student I teach will get hood training. No, it's not required. They'll get it anyway. I believe I would be negligent in not doing so. 2) There's a hell of a lot of hostility from CFI/CFIIs directed at CFI-SPs. Folks, a CFI-SP is tested to the same standards, and required to teach to the same standards, as a CFI for a Private, for those things that are common to both tickets. When I participated in SAFE's CFI forum, the hostility there when I suggested that a CFI-SP can teach just as well as a CFI was enough to run me off entirely. 3) Paul S, I didn't find a buyer. The bank did after repossessing it. I think they got $55K after having the spar mod done. And I'm not flying anything; I've been up in a small airplane just a handful of times, the most recent a couple of months ago to scatter my roommate's dad's ashes from a Cub down a grass runway.

Posted by: Jay Maynard | December 26, 2012 5:59 PM    Report this comment

Very sorry to hear you're not flying ATM, Jay. Ring me up any time your travels take you within range of KLHV. I'd be happy to take you up.

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 26, 2012 6:03 PM    Report this comment

Jay Manard, Sorry to hear of the hostility but it does not surprise me. I don't see that from my local flight instructor but, perhaps he's a different breed. Those that want to continue with the arrogant attitude of one class over another are just alienating an already shrinking pool of pilots. Too bad but that's human nature.

Posted by: Jay Manor | December 26, 2012 7:05 PM    Report this comment

After starting to fly again some 5 years ago I have noticed a lot of hostility from CFIs toward everyone including their pilot customers. Perhaps these old CFIs are just a crotchety bunch.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | December 26, 2012 7:14 PM    Report this comment

Isn't it amazing--8 years after the adoption of LSP/LSAs, some of the best minds in the industry are still having an argument over what is and isn't allowed--and nearly every pilot magazine has a column trying to explain it all.

If there was ever an indictment of the incomprehensible FARs--this is it! I guess that's what happens when piecemeal and patchwork additions are made.

The FARs need a top-to-bottom overhaul--they are mired in the 1930s.

Posted by: jim hanson | December 27, 2012 9:48 AM    Report this comment

Jim ... you're right on point.

Re-reading Paul’s initial premise, his question makes perfect logical sense but try and use THAT in any confrontation with an adversarial FAA type after an accident / incident. The glass is half full or half empty idea isn’t going to work with an FAA guy hell bent to “get” ya. They prove their ‘worth’ to the FAA bureaucracy by doing just that. The idea that if it doesn’t say you can’t means you can isn’t going to work with those robots.

One of the problems with Light Sport is that the rules are SO convoluted for anyone except a new sport pilot with no higher ratings; for them the rules are clear. For pilots moving down to avoid medical certification, everything gets muddled.

What can a sport pilot do, what can a high rated pilot flying as a sport pilot do, what is a light sport airplane authorized to do. Who can train me. Who must maintain it. Geezus … wasn’t light sport supposed to make everything simpler? Doesn’t seem so to me.

Could you fly a Dynon equipped CTLSi under IFR … sure. Will that work with the FAA when you crunch it, dunno. Will your insurance pay, likely not. End of story.

It IS sad … VERY sad … that the capabilities of a Dynon Skyview equipped CTLSi are wasted.

I wish all the bloggers here would aim their energy at the FAA to get the recreational flight medical exemption passed! Better still, let sequestration make most of the FAA and ALL of ther lawyers go away.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 27, 2012 11:01 AM    Report this comment

I really was not going to respond because this discussion is getting stale. There is a lot of hostility toward LS CFIs; maybe there is a good reason. I was at a FAA CFI/DPE FAAST team meeting the other night and the LS CFI was discussed; no one was supportive. Behind closed doors the FAA feels the same. I admit to being one of those "old" CFI/CFIIs and even though I am a retired major airline pilot I grew up flying small airplanes and love teaching in them now. My latest private student passed his check ride two weeks ago with 44 hours and did not find me crotchety. The reason LS CFIs are held in lower esteem is simply the requirements are far less; private certificate vs commercial, instrument. Does anyone think a pilot does not learn anything getting a commercial certificate with an instrument rating. CFI's do not like the sales pitch often heard about how much cheaper is to get a light sport ticket because in general it is not. I can not understand how a student would not choose a real CFI for a light sport certificate especially if the student wanted to go for higher ratings later. Maybe my experience flying Cat III approaches into ORD does not directly to a private pilot but on the other hand maybe there are some lessons. Many of my students want to be commercial pilots (the airlines will be hiring soon) and appreciate the perspective we "old" guys bring. I am sure there are some good LS CFIs but I can understand why they do not get a real CFI certificate.

Posted by: Patrick McBurnett | December 27, 2012 11:09 AM    Report this comment

Very good and interesting discussion. When the LSA category was first introduced, I envisioned two main benefits coming from it.

First, it would allow older pilots to continue in aviation by not requiring a third class medical and second, It would attract a younger group of people to aviation which might not have started flying at all. To test the second part of my theory, it would be interesting to see how many of the 900 deposits that Icon Aircraft have taken on there A5 are from people who have no background in aviation. This could prove that a sexy new design can attract more folks to aviation which will benefit all of us.

As to the hostility shown to LSA pilots/instructors, that makes no sense at all. All of us fly for similar reasons and what we fly is probably determined by our income levels. My father was a pilot and he got me hooked on flying at a very young age. I started flying hang gliders first because that was my affordable entry into aviation.

As I got older and made more money, I graduated to single engine GA as many of my hang gliding brethren did. Tom Peghiny, who heads up Flight Designs USA, was a world class hang glider pilot. There are many others I've run into over the years that are now in GA.

Change comes at a glacial pace within the FAA. Let's do what we can as interested pilots to help the rules reflect a more common sense approach for all pilots.

Posted by: Ric Lee | December 27, 2012 11:09 AM    Report this comment

The fact that people even use the expression "real CFI" shows how deep the schism has become. A CFI is a CFI. They may be licensed under Part 61 Subpart H, or Part 61 Subpart K. One is just as real as the other. There ar excellent (as well as terrible) teachers in both groups. Whose training hours count toward higher ratings is another discussion altogether. I had the honor of serving on the joint EAA/AOPA/NAFI committee that petitioned FAA to allow some dual instruction given by Subpart K CFIs to count toward higher ratings. The thrust of the petition was to let the PTS govern. In areas of operation in which the PTS skills are identical, it shouldn't matter who thought the applicant those skills. For those areas of operation in which the standards are different, it's not unreasonable to make a distinction. There's no telling how, or even if, FAA will respond to this petition, but the intent is clear: a CFI is a CFI, and all are "real". BTW, I'm an old, crotchety Subpart H CFII (in case it wasn't obvious...)

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 27, 2012 11:26 AM    Report this comment

Patrick, again with the "real" comment. From where I sit you are part of the old group I want to stay well away from. It's a shame because I know I could learn from you but I can't get past the attitude.

Safe flying

Posted by: Jay Manor | December 27, 2012 12:47 PM    Report this comment

Lots of good comments from Paul, Jay, Dr. Paul, Jim and others. Glad for your thoughts, and I too sure like that Icon A5....just needs a spare 150k or so!!! Sure agree on good recurrent training... And appreciate it when an instructor pilot offers me some hood time. Amazing how hard it is to hold those 25ft limits in turns and headings! Still, think the time has come to allow "driver license" med quals for third class medicals to become the new standard. If we want to "grow" affordable aviation, and focus on safe flying, having experienced IPs is far more important Then regressive and obsolute medical protocols. Like most of these postings...I don't fly if I am feeling under the weather (no pun intended)

Posted by: roger bailey | December 27, 2012 12:56 PM    Report this comment

Patrick, I can tell you why I didn't get a "real" CFI: you can't do it without a medical. You can't get the instrument ticket, you can't get the commercial, and you can't take the CFI checkride without a medical. If I could have, I would. I'll guarantee you my checkride was just as much putting me through the wringer as a "real" CFI's.

The "real" CFI's PTS is a strict superset of the CFI-SP's. So, for that matter, is a SP's PTS, compared to the private. I wouldn't have it any other way. For those things that are common to both, the standards of performance are identical.

But for people to run me down because I'm not a "real" CFI? Pfaugh. I'd be willing to bet real money that I could get one of those "real" CFIs in my Zodiac and teach him things. He'd teach me things, too. That's the way it works to an instructor who's not so full of his own ego to admit he couldn't learn.

Posted by: Jay Maynard | December 27, 2012 2:01 PM    Report this comment

So... if a real instructor flies a non-real airplane, was he really flying? If I acquire real knowledge and real joy from flying a non-real airplane, does that count? If a real man cries like a baby at a non-real, fictional movie... LOL!

I only feel 40, but they tell me I'm really 62! Really!

Posted by: Dave Miller | December 27, 2012 2:19 PM    Report this comment

Dave, I'm really 66. Most of the time I feel 19, but some mornings it's more like 89!

Posted by: Dr. H. Paul Shuch | December 27, 2012 2:22 PM    Report this comment

I have not read all the comments but I think that LSA's should continue to be a VFR operated machine. The LSA pilots licence was made for an entry into being a pilot and that's it. If someone buys a plane and it has the instruments for IFR, that's ok but it is still a Light Sport Aircraft. the purchaser might be the one asking for extra options in the instrument panel if its offered. If the FAA dose decide that it will allow some LSA-IFR operations the pilots should have to earn an IFR rating and have the plane checked and signed off in the POH for that specific aircraft. If I have stepped on any ones toes sorry about that.

Posted by: Adam Davis | December 28, 2012 11:56 PM    Report this comment

Adam, nobody's saying a Sport Pilot without an instrument rating, or an LSA that's not approved for IFR, should fly IFR. My IFR-equiped Zodiac had specific provisions in the POH approving it for IFR operations. It was perfectly legal to fly it IFR, but only a private pilot (or above) operating with a medical and an instrument rating could do so legally.

Posted by: Jay Maynard | December 30, 2012 3:06 AM    Report this comment

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