Welcome Guest. Sign in or Signup

5 Answers

Sport Pilot Options

Asked by: 4722 views Light Sport Aircraft

If a 70 year old private pilot with an instrument rating wants to move to flying Light Sport Aircraft (never failed a medical, but would like to avoid the requirement for a 3rd class medical every two years at this stage of life), can this pilot fly the LSA in the IFR system (and in IMC) if the airplane was properly equipped (and the pilot has a valid driver's license but has allowed the medical to expire)?

Or does flying a properly equipped LSA in IFR conditions always require a current medical certificate?  I couldn't find this question addressed directly (I may have missed it) in the FARs.


Ace Any FAA Written Test!
Actual FAA Questions / Free Lifetime Updates
The best explanations in the business
Fast, efficient study.
Pass Your Checkride With Confidence!
FAA Practical Test prep that reflects actual checkrides.
Any checkride: Airplane, Helicopter, Glider, etc.
Written and maintained by actual pilot examiners and master CFIs.
The World's Most Trusted eLogbook
Be Organized, Current, Professional, and Safe.
Highly customizable - for student pilots through pros.
Free Transition Service for users of other eLogs.
Our sincere thanks to pilots such as yourself who support AskACFI while helping themselves by using the awesome PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad, and Android aviation apps of our sponsors.

5 Answers

  1. Kent Shook on Jan 21, 2011

    No, you can’t fly IFR in that situation. I’m going to use two different strategies to explain this. First of all, without a medical, you cannot exercise the privileges of your Private Pilot certificate (FAR 61.23(a)(3)), thus you are exercising Sport Pilot privileges. According to FAR 61.315(c), a Sport Pilot:
    “(c) You may not act as pilot in command of a light-sport aircraft:
    (12) When the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles.
    (13) Without visual reference to the surface.”
    The other thing I’ll point out is that 61.65(a)(1) requires at least a Private pilot certificate to get an instrument rating, further evidence that to fly in IMC (which requires an instrument rating due to 91.173 and 61.3(e)(1)) is exercising the privileges of a Private pilot certificate, which requires a medical.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  2. skyboyCFI on Jan 22, 2011

    More simply, like Kent said, a sports pilot cannot fly IFR. You can’t fly anything without a medical unless you get the Sport Pilot rating and qualify for the medical exceptions and rules, and then only LSA. No more night or instrument. Stick with your private. 3 years between Medicals is not that bad. If you’re wanting the change cause you fear a medical failure, don’t consider a down grade because the rules still say you must be medically fit. Fly Safe.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  3. Wesley Beard on Jan 22, 2011

    SkyboyCFI is mostly correct.  If you think you are going to fail a medical exam, then you cannot fly a light sport aircraft.  The regulation for this is 61.53
    (b) Operations that do not require a medical certificate. For operations provided for in §61.23(b) of this part, a person shall not act as pilot in command, or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember, while that person knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make the person unable to operate the aircraft in a safe manner.
     Once you have your private pilots license, you are automatically allowed to act under the sport pilot rules for the category and class that is on your license.  The limitation is the airplane must be approved as a light sport airplane and you can’t fly at night or in IMC.  This by definition, precludes multi engine airplanes and helicopters.

    0 Votes Thumb up 0 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  4. Kent Shook on Jan 22, 2011

    Careful, Skyboy – Your assertion that “You can’t fly anything without a medical unless you get the Sport Pilot rating…” is not true. Gliders and Balloons don’t need a medical. 61.23(b)(3). So, it would be possible for Bud to get his PP-Glider, get his 61.31(j)(1)(iii) self-launch endorsement, and buy an HK36 or similar motorglider and fly all over the country. 

    +1 Votes Thumb up 1 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

  5. skyboyCFI on Jan 23, 2011

    Oops, sorry. My mind was powered SE fixed wing airplane. And I also did not take into account, a CFI is not required to have a current medical to instruct a qualified pilot. :-p my bad.

    +1 Votes Thumb up 1 Votes Thumb down 0 Votes

Answer Question

Our sincere thanks to all who contribute constructively to this forum in answering flight training questions. If you are a flight instructor or represent a flight school / FBO offering flight instruction, you are welcome to include links to your site and related contact information as it pertains to offering local flight instruction in a specific geographic area. Additionally, direct links to FAA and related official government sources of information are welcome. However we thank you for your understanding that links to other sites or text that may be construed as explicit or implicit advertising of other business, sites, or goods/services are not permitted even if such links nominally are relevant to the question asked.