The Canadian ultralight community is protesting regulatory changes they say will prohibit pilots from flying aircraft some of them have owned and flown for decades. Transport Canada has issued a Notice of Proposed Amendment that Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada (UPAC) President Kathy Lubitz says contains a clause that will unnecessarily restrict the definition of an ultralight aircraft and curtail access for thousands of pilots. “Changing the definition of ultra-light aeroplane to restrict Ultra-Light Pilot Permit holders to flying only those planes registered as ultra-lights removes the privilege that allows the holder of a Pilot Permit Ultra-Light Aeroplane to operate any aeroplane that meets the ultra-light criteria,” Lubitz said in a letter to the agency. “This privilege has been in effect for more than 30 years; it was in the Ultra-light Aeroplane Policy of 1991.” The comment period for the NPA ends Feb. 7 and comments can be made here.
Under current regulations, ultralight pilots can fly anything that meets the definition of an ultralight aeroplane (1200-pound MTOW and 45-knot dirty stall speed) and that includes some small certified planes. But planes built as ultralights are mostly assigned registration marks that begin with C-Ixxx. The amendment proposes to declare that only aircraft with those first two letters (C-I) in their registration are actually ultralights. Besides affecting certified planes that can have registrations with any letter after the C, the rule would also capture actual ultralight aircraft for which operators have obtained custom registrations from Transport Canada.
UPAC and the Canadian arm of EAA said this could all have been avoided if they’d been consulted on its contents, which Transport Canada described as a housekeeping bid to clean up imprecise or ambiguous language. “There was no transparency in developing these CAR 101.01 definition changes and no justification explaining the removal of ultra-light pilot operating privilege other than to fix registration irritants,” UPAC’s letter says.
UPAC also wonders about the wisdom of changing the name of the category from the current Ultra-light Aeroplane to Ultra-light Aircraft saying it “opens the door to accommodating other powered aircraft like gyros, helicopters, motor gliders, and manned EVTOLs (drones) using distributed power as Ultra-light Aircraft.”