Sport Pilot Transition Training – Airplane

Existing pilots transitioning to fly Light Sport Aircraft under sport pilot rules are recommended to obtain some level of transition training.

General Aviation (GA) pilots want to downgrade or transition from flying the large and more complex airplanes to flying the light sport aircraft for many reasons. (Note: I do not like the word downgrade but I’ve used the term here because it’s how may GA pilots refer to it. I prefer to use the word “transition” rather than downgrade since this is more appropriate and accurate.)

Why would a pilot want to transition to LSA?

Some cannot pass the medical or don’t want to take the chance of failing a medical. Others may want to reduce expenses. While others may want to go back to the basics of flying that they started out with. While others just want to fly for fun and own their own aircraft. For whatever reason, here are some basics for a GA Pilot transitioning to fly under sport pilot rules.

Who would benefit from sport pilot transition training?

  • A Current GA pilot airplane wanting to fly LSA airplane

    You should know that any current private pilot may fly a light-sport aircraft (LSA) they are qualified for without an FAA medical but using their driver’s license as medical eligibility.

    To be a “current pilot” you need a biennial flight review (flight review every 2 years) same as all pilots need to be current.

  • A Non-current GA pilot airplane wanting to fly LSA airplane

    Your airman certificate is good for life. If you have not flown for years, your medical has run out, you simply need to get a flight review to be current and you are good to go.

    Please note that if you still have one of those ancient paper pilot certificates (which most of you do), they are no good anymore. You must get a new plastic one from the FAA.

    The minimum time for a flight review is 1-hour ground training on Part 91 rules and 1-hour flight training. However, if you’re returning to flying after getting “rusty” from not flying over the years it may take 5 to 10 hours of flight time and some ground school to understand the new aircraft, airspace and regulations. Whatever it takes to get you back up to speed and transition to a new aircraft is all part of your flight review.

The regulations that allow Private Pilots to fly LSA?

The specific regulations that allow a GA/Private pilot and up fly Light-Sport Aircraft using a driver’s license? Regulation 61.303 is the regulation where this is specified. Referring to the table for the type of aircraft use it as the basis for the privileges and limitations described for your situation.

For the Private Pilot who let his medical expire and wants to fly LSA as a sport pilot:

If you follow 61.303

  • (a) ( 2)  to “If you hold only a U.S. driver’s license”, then over to the right
  • (ii) “and you hold at least a recreational pilot certificate with a category and class rating”, meaning private pilot and above, over to the right one more box
  • “then you may operate “any LSA in that category and class” one more box to the right
  • and you may fly (A) Any light-sport aircraft in that category and class”, then one more box to the right
  • and “( 1 ) You must comply with the limitations in §61.315, except §61.315(c)(14) and, if a private pilot or higher, §61.315(c)(7)”.

OK now if you look at regulation 61.315 these are the sport pilot limitations. But you as a private pilot, DO NOT have to comply with §61.315(c)(14)…which is the airspeed endorsement. And, you DO NOT have to comply with  61.315(c)(7)…which is the airspace requirement for sport pilots. This means that private pilots flying as sport pilots, using their driver’s license as a medical, can continue to use towered airspace without a separate endorsement.

Transitioning, no matter the reason, can seem like a complex process, but hopefully, I’ve explained things well enough for you to understand the benefits of Sport Pilot Transition Training.

Any pilot who wants to add a new category

Curious about how to add the Weight-Shift Control Trike or PPC category to your Sport or GA Pilot certificate? This requires training by one CFI and taking a proficiency check with another CFI.

Additionally, you must be current as a pilot, have a flight review in any aircraft you are qualified for within the last two years.

To learn more, go to Add Category/Class or Speed Endorsement.

Got questions?

Contact Paul Hamilton