Freedom… is the first reason any us consider the fun and adventure of flying. It’s the kind of flying we dreamed of as youngsters.
In 2004, after several years of comprehensive analysis (and 100 years after the Wright Bros. first flew), the FAA created the Light-Sport Aircraft category, and a Sport Pilot licensing procedure that elevated both safety and dependability to a large segment of existing and prospective pilots. These new rules/procedures facilitated a blend of the established general aviation community with elements of experimental/sport pilot/homebuilt aviation. The NEW aircraft resulting from this undertaking are of greater consistency in quality and dependability due to their design and manufacture under ASTM consensus standards. These planes are likely to include many technological advances in flight management systems, improved efficiency electronics and integrated on-board weather resources. New pilots also may receive better training from improved standards, yet if their intent is to conform and operate their privilege as a “sport pilot” the initial training regimen is halved to 20 hours minimum flight training, and the costs to less than half the amount required for the traditional private pilot. As divined, these new regulations make personal flight more accessible and safer to consumers.
Perhaps you’re already a commercial or instrument rated pilot with an MEI rating, and aircraft that fits… do you care about Light Sport Pilot? Perhaps you should!
In the traditional world of general aviation, only 1% of our populace can financially consider a new production GA aircraft. Indeed, most of that eligible 1% has not, nor will ever, purchase an airplane-new or used. Maybe less than surprising, the ranks of GA pilots have contracted by about 25% in the past 29 years. The number of student pilot starts are down 40% from 1980, and a depressing 55% when based on the percentage of population. Action is needed if we wish to maintain our freedom. The good intention for ALL pilots is to improve airport access, quality of funding, reduce airport closures, and promote new airports. We want to resist airspace user fees… yes, unless we grow the ranks of the affected pilots, our democracy will continue to suspend our freedom and access… we MUST grow the ranks of pilots and their affordable aircraft, and LSA meaningfully helps that cause.
Alternately, as a time-tested GA pilot, you have aged… perhaps faster than your airplane. The medical standard for the sport pilot rule is that you must have a valid, state-issued driver’s license, and have not failed a FAA flight physical. You are competent of your ability to fly the plane and the airspace system, but leery of its AME protocol… LSA may be your continued opportunity to perform privileges.