Sport Pilot Rule is Final: What will it mean for you?

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Sport Pilot Rule is Final

What will it mean for you?

By Greg Napert

August 2004

Greg Napert

As we are going to press, the long-awaited Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft final rule has been published and is being absorbed by the industry.

When the initial Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published two years ago, AMT commented on what the implications were regarding maintenance. At the time, the rule was quite liberal in terms of what could be worked on and/or maintained by a sport pilot. It was also liberal in terms of which aircraft could be moved into or out of the sport category. Many were skeptical that the rule would be good for professional mechanics.

Fortunately, it appears someone in Washington came to their senses and tightened up the rule a bit. Now, aircraft that are sold as type certificated aircraft (such as the Cessna 150 or J3 Cub) must be maintained according to their type certificate ' even if they are flown by a sport pilot under the new rules.

Further, the new rule essentially opens up a new category of aircraft to be worked on for A&Ps (with appropriate model specific training).

According to Bill O'Brien (see his column on the new Sport Pilot rule on page 34) no aircraft have been taken away from the A&P. Instead, a new fleet of 14,000 aircraft have now become available for inspection and maintenance.

Of course, the rules allow sport pilots to obtain the required training to perform their own inspections and or maintenance on sport certificated aircraft. But they must receive training before they can either inspect or maintain the aircraft.

Remember that previous to this rule, these aircraft were being flown anyway and there were no training requirements under the experimental rule that were required. A&P mechanics were not encouraged to work on these aircraft because they were classified as experimental. Moving these aircraft through a certification process will not only encourage training for the pilots who fly them, but it will open the doors for A&P mechanics to inspect and maintain these aircraft under a set of regulations. The result -' safer aircraft.

Time will tell whether or not this new category will work in practice. There is a great deal of training and administrative stuff to work out and as sure as there is red tape in Washington, D.C., there will be some kinks and challenges with this new rule. But in general, I believe the rule will be good for the industry.

If you have not read the new rule yet, I encourage you to spend some time studying it as it won't be long before sport aircraft start showing up at your hangar door. Further details are provided in a fact sheet at or you can download and read the rule in its entirety at

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Greg Napert
Proud to be an A&P