Private Pilot Training in an LSA?


Each month, Flying answers questions about the new Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft rule with assistance from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the authorities on the opportunities available within the category commonly known as "Sport Pilot":

Can a person earn a private pilot certificate in a light-sport aircraft exclusively, or must some of the training be in a more "conventional" aircraft?

A light-sport aircraft can be used for training of all pilot levels-provided the aircraft is properly equipped for the training required and the LSA manufacturer does not specifically prohibit such training in that aircraft. Special LSA aircraft fall under direct control of the manufacturer, so even if the FAA might allow a particular operation, it must also be approved by the manufacturer in order for the aircraft to be operated in that capacity. I have a two-part question regarding night flying in a light-sport aircraft.

1. Can an LSA equipped for night flying (position lights & strobes, landing light & cockpit floodlight) be legally flown at night by a licensed private pilot with a valid medical? 2. Can an LSA certificated as "Day VFR only" be upgraded with night flying equipment and fly legally at night?

1. Maybe. It depends on whether or not the operating limitations issued to the aircraft as a part of its airworthiness certificate allow the aircraft to be operated at night. And in the case of an S-LSA, the aircraft manufacturer will also have to approve the aircraft for night operations.

2. The owner could request a recurrent certification of the aircraft in order to have the operating limitations changed to include the provision for flying at night. In the case of an S-LSA, again the manufacturer of the aircraft would also have to provide specific permission.

Does the holder of a conventional pilot certificate, such as private, commercial or ATP, need a current flight review to fly a light-sport aircraft? And do landing currency rules for carrying passengers apply to light-sport aircraft?

For both questions, the answer is yes. Flight review and currency requirements apply to all pilots, including sport pilots.

For more information on Sport Pilot, go to EAA's Sport Pilot website at EAA, which also hosts the annual EAA AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh, provides in-depth information on the website, as well as a Sport Pilot hotline and complete membership services for all aviation enthusiasts. Call 800/564-6322 for membership information.