New FAA rules make flying more affordable!

On September 1, 2004 the FAA inaugurated a new pilot certificate dubbed the "sport pilot" that makes learning to fly easier and more affordable that ever. Intended primarily for recreational use, you can now become a pilot with as little as 20 hours of flight instruction! In addition, the FAA also created a new category of affordable "light-sport aircraft"!

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Re: New FAA rules make flying more affordable!

Postby 3Dreaming » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:01 pm

The 20 hour limit set by the FAA was for the airplanes they envisioned pilots flying, and not the airplanes they turned into. I think a person could do it in 20 hours in a simple, and slow airplane.

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Re: New FAA rules make flying more affordable!

Postby acensor » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:35 pm

Sport pilot and LSA worked out for me, but it definitalyy has not, as hoped, become much of a robust path into aviation for those the many for the many who would love to, but for whom the cost or time were and are significant, often overwhelming, barriers.
As if 2015 there were only about 5000 who had come into flying by getting sport pilot licenses. Barely a drop in the bucket.

From an earlier post...
"...I believe the cost of aircraft ownership is cost prohibitive for most. However, renting a newer LSA is about the same price as renting an older Cessna or Piper. Regardless of how many hours it takes, you should be able to get a Sport Pilot certificate in less hours than it would take you to get a Private.."

The fewer hours, and the approx typical $4000 training for Sport v.s. the approx $8000 for private, and in some cases the no-medical-needed, as would the lower fuel consumption of LSA's, would SEEM to create a much wider and easier door into flying for many.

But very few light schools or CFI's have LSA's, or (LSA class standard aircraft)available to rent.
Even fewer flying clubs have LSA's.
(I even encountered one of the few operators that have LSA's can't that rent to a sport pilot because their insurer required all pilots have a current medical.)
Even many of the FBO's that say their CFI can offer Sport Pilot training don't even have an LSA that the student could do their required cross country with..
Back around 2009, when I first investigated the sport pilot option, a very LSA oriented operator that sold and trained in Quicksilver LSA,s told me they could train me but they would not let me rent or use their LSA for my required cross country.

So I bit the bullet went to one of the few operations actually suitable, in Prosser Washington 400 mikes away, prepared to invest the time and cost of staying there a week, on top of the training cost, and started my sport pilot training; but quit after a day, in significant part because I realized I'd come home with a useless license....because the nearest FBO with an LSA to rent was a 3.5 hour drive from home. And that, no-LSA available for rent near home, is a common reality, even now 13 years into the LSA story, making the LSA dream sort of a cruel tease for many (most?) of those it was supposed to open doors for.

It came down to unless I could afford to buy an LSA, game over.
Here's the thing: For a wanna-be pilot for whom the $8000 private pilot training is a serious barrier, there's even less chance that considering spending $35K on a used LSA ($35K is the bottom of used LSA market), let alone a new one starting at $90K and up could be a realistic option.

So no...Contrary to this tooic'ssubject line...the LSA sport pilot rules did not to any meaningful degree "make flying more affordable p" to those who it was unfordable before. Few winners in that constituency. And the fight schools and CFI's didn't get the hoped for flood of new students.

Oh, and, lest we forget the collateral damage:
The LSA initiative has essentially killed the ones robustly growing ultralight community. The category of ultralight called " ultralight Trainer" and the ultralight instructor were eliminated. So no there's practically no doorway into ultralight flying anymore. And that was one low-cost wait to get into flying on the budget limited, that is mostly closed now.

So who are the winners?
The minority of wannabe pilots for whom price is irrelevant can get some really elegant and capable LSA's and get their licenses somewhat more easily and faster than of going for private not have to deal with Aero-medical exams.
Plus the LSA.manufacterers who sell into that market.

Possibly the bigest group of winners are aging private pilots uneasy about going in for ther next medical exam who sold their Cessnas and purchased an LSA, or had a older plane that fit under the LSA criteria, were able to keep flying under Sport pilot limitation rules. Numbers unknown bjt believed ti be far greater than the number of pilots who hold actual sport pilot licenses.

And, finally, there's one _indirect_ , arguably desirable, result of the sport pilot initiative:
The existence of the sport pilot program, and the fact that thousands of pilots had been flying for more than decade under those rules without medical exams, and no indication that flight without medical exams was creating a safety hazard, was a pice of the argument that he eventually allowed the new Basic Medical rules to pass.
And as a result of those, many private pilots who might've tried to do a flyer home now continuing to be able to float their non-LSA aircraft.
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Re: New FAA rules make flying more affordable!

Postby acensor » Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:12 am

"....The 20 hour limit set by the FAA was for the airplanes they envisioned pilots flying, and not the airplanes they turned into. I think a person could do it in 20 hours in a simple, and slow airplane."

You're IMO quite right that few sport pilot students get to their license in 20 hours. But remember, for that matter, very few private pilot students do it in 40 hours.

My point is that at least that's one part of the sport pilot initiative DID basically materialize:
That is, on average getting a Sport Pilot license will take significantly _fewer_ hours and fewer dollars than a Private.
With the big gotch'ya being the limited availability of sport pilot trianing, and the even more limited availability of rental Light Sport aircraft making the apparent easier door an illusion. (See my previous post for longer rant on that.)

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Re: New FAA rules make flying more affordable!

Postby TimTaylor » Mon Oct 02, 2017 11:41 am

I'm not sure what is the point of this thread. The Sport Pilot certificate is a good thing. I, for one, have been flying for the past 5 years because of it, and will be able to continue flying because of it. People can be disgruntled because new LSA are expensive, but you can buy an old certified aircraft or rent an almost new LSA if you can find one. It is also easier and less expensive for a new pilot to get a Sport Pilot certificate versus a Private Pilot certificate.
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