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Looking for a simple Airplane Sport Pilot vs. Private Pilot Time and Cost Comparison? We list the typical time and cost to acquire a sport pilot certificate vs. a private pilot certificate to fly airplane light sport aircraft (LSA) along with a few frequently asked questions.

Paul Hamilton Sport Aviation Center Sport Pilot vs Private Pilot

Sport Pilot, Private Pilot LSA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Q. Why was the Sport Pilot Certificate and Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) Category added by the FAA in 2014?
A.

  • Sport Pilot was added to provide an easier to obtain pilot certificate to let more people get into aviation at a lower cost/time and without an FAA medical. This is for entry level/starters and older pilots who would have trouble keeping their stringent FAA medical.
  • The light Sport Aircraft was added to provide a modern, less regulated simple to fly new aircraft category that both sport pilots and private pilots can fly.

Q. What are the advantages of a Sport Pilot certificate?
A.

  • Half the time and cost to get a private pilot certificate.
  • Easier to obtain then a private pilot certificate.
  • Same safety/piloting skills as private.
  • No FAA medical required
  • Can use as a stepping stone to go to Private Pilot

Q. If I want to start with Sport Pilot, can I move on to Private Pilot? What are the additional requirements/costs?
A. You need to add flight training:

  • Night flying,
  • VOR navigation,
  • instrument flight training,
  • towered airspace (if you did not get this with a sport pilot endorsement)
  • If properly planned out, it will only cost you an extra $160 for a knowledge test and $520 for a checkride to get you Sport Pilot Certificate first and then move on to Private Pilot. Most of your Sport Pilot airtime can count towards private. With the additional dual night flying, VOR navigation, instrument flight training and towered airspace, this takes the additional 20 hours needed for private pilot training.

Q. What are the advantages of Private Pilot Certificate?
A.

  • Can fly at night
  • Have a wider selection of airplanes to rent
  • Can fly more than one passenger
  • Can also fly Light Sport Aircraft

Q. Can I get a Private Pilot Certificate without an FAA medical?
A.

  • If you have never had an FAA medical, you must get an FAA minimum 3rd class medical to take a Private Pilot Checkride to get a Private pilot certificate.
  • After you have obtained your Private Pilot certificate, with the new BasicMed effective May 1, 2017, if you have had an FAA medical within the last 10 years, you do not need an FAA medical to fly general aviation aircraft (heavier non LSA). However, you must go to your regular state certified doctor, get an FAA approved checkup, and take on line courses every 2 years to fly without an FAA medical as a private pilot with the following restrictions which are similar to Sport Pilot:
    • Aircraft Requirements:
      • Any aircraft authorized under federal law to carry not more than 6 occupants
      • Has a maximum certificated takeoff weight of not more than 6,000 pounds
    • Operating Requirements:
      • Carries not more than five passengers
      • Operates under VFR or IFR, within the United States, at less than 18,000 feet MSL, not exceeding 250 knots.
      • Flight not operated for compensation or hire

    For more details comparing Sport Pilot and Private Pilot flight training, go to the web site:
    http://airplanepilot.sportaviationcenter.com/airplane-lsa-training/private-pilot-light-sport/

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