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Sport Pilot Instruction Petition Available for Public Comment

David Oord
EAA Government & Advocacy Specialist David Oord

The FAA has officially published the petition for rulemaking from the EAA, AOPA, NAFI, and GAMA that would allow sport pilot instruction hours to count toward higher certificates and ratings, and the public comment period is now open. In an interview September 6 with Roy Beisswenger on Powered Sport Flying Radio, EAA’s Government & Advocacy Specialist David Oord said he believes the long delay was due to a technical oversight, and he explained why the change is important.

When the new sport pilot regulations were first proposed, it was intended—and presumed by everyone involved with it—that a sport pilot certificate would be a stepping stone toward higher ratings. However, a legal determination issued in 2009 declared that a strict reading of the regulations doesn’t allow instruction time given by “subpart K” sport pilot instructors to count toward higher ratings.

The decision requires a certificated sport pilot, wanting to advance to a private certificate, to start all over and repeat all the same training again but this time with a “subpart H” instructor who is qualified to give endorsements for the higher ratings. The petition asks for a small change in the language of the rule to allow sport pilot instruction to count toward higher ratings.

The student would still have to obtain all of the additional training and endorsements required for a private certificate from a “subpart H” instructor including night flying and flight with reference to instruments.

Oord described the petition as a “no-brainer” in the regulatory sense. The current interpretation discourages sport pilots from advancing to higher ratings and discourages sport pilot instructors from encouraging their students to do so. He had no explanation for why it took the agency seven months to publish the petition except to say it might have “fallen through the cracks” because the department involved moved to a new location and had a change of personnel.

You can read the petition here and submit comments online under Docket FAA-2011-0138 by clicking on the “Submit a Comment” button. The deadline for submitting comments hasn’t been announced but is expected once the petition has been published in the Federal Register. Download a podcast of Oord’s interview from the Powered Sport Flying Radio archives.

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