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Existing Pilots

An individual holding a recreational pilot certificate or higher may exercise the privileges of a sport pilot certificate, provided the holder complies with the privileges and limitations of a sport pilot certificate. 

The main benefit for existing pilots is that sport pilot requires only a valid state driver’s license to establish medical fitness. No more need for a third-class medical! 

Unfortunately, the rule includes one major exception: Existing pilots, including previous student pilots, who have had their most recent FAA medical certificate application denied, suspended, or revoked by the FAA are not allowed to operate using their driver’s license.

Here’s all an existing pilot needs to do:

  • Possess a valid pilot certificate.
  • Comply with the medical requirements of a sport pilot (valid state driver’s license.)
  • Have a current flight review (recorded in logbook).
  • Fly a sport pilot-eligible aircraft.
  • Operate within the privileges and limitations of the sport pilot certificate.
  • Operate within the category/class ratings on the pilot certificate.

An individual with a private, commercial, or ATP certificate may perform the flight review in any aircraft authorized by the person’s pilot certificate, assuming the CFI is pilot in command.

A private pilot choosing to operate at the sport pilot level need not do anything more than comply with the rules. No change of certificates is necessary. If ramp checked, a private pilot may simply present the private pilot certificate and valid state driver’s license and inform the FAA inspector “I am operating as a sport pilot.”

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