CFIs Disconnected Between Sport and Private Pilot Training

By Scott Spangler on April 16th, 2008

When talking to him for a previous post, Ercoupe is Affordable Solution to School’s Sport Pilot Needs, Mitch Williams said he had several private pilots with the desire and necessary 150 flight hours who wanted to become sport pilot instructors. Williams said only one thing kept them from joining the teaching staff: 

“If I have one of these guys teach somebody as a sport pilot, and if that sport pilot decides he wants to be a private pilot, he’s got 15 hours [of dual instruction] from a sport pilot CFI that won’t count for a private pilot [certificate]. That’s the interpretation from my FSDO, and [AFS 610, the sport pilot branch office] agrees.” 

Logbook In other words, the dual instruction a sport pilot instructor gives does not count toward the minimum dual instruction required for a private pilot certificate.

Reading the regs until cross-eyed, I couldn’t find anything that might lead to this interpretation, so I called Earl Lawrence, EAA’s government guru. In no time at all he confirmed–and explained–the situation, and said the FAA is working on this this instructor disconnect.

The disconnect is not the type of training they give. The sport pilot flight proficiency requirements are core skills that higher certificates build on. Let’s face it, learning to land is learning to land whether you’re flying a light sport aircraft or a Cessna.

The disconnect is in the regulations and who CFIs and SP-CFIs may train.

As spelled out in Subpart H of Part 61, CFIs, who are at least 18 years old and have commercial and instrument tickets, can give and endorse training for “pilot certificates,” from sport to airline transport pilot.

As spelled out in Subpart K of Part 61, fixed-wing sport pilot flight instructors, who are at least 18 years old and have a sport pilot certificate or better and at least 150 hours, can give and endorse training for sport pilot’s only. 

Because SP-CFIs are authorized to train sport pilots only, the training they give and endorse does not count toward the private or any other pilot certificate.

On April 15 the FAA published an NPRM that combines all of the CFI requirements in Subpart H, along with a number of other changes.  The 47-page proposal contains nothing I can find that allows the fixed-wing sport pilot dual instruction to count toward the requirements of a private pilot certificate. But we all have 120 days to comment on this oversight.

Regardless of their future private pilot plans, there is no reasons newcomers should not pursue their sport pilot certificate. (And those who want to become a sport pilot instructor should go for it!) When you get down to it, anything learned is rarely wasted.

In the real world, few ab initio students earn a private ticket in 40 hours, the minimum-required time. Sport pilots earning a private, on the other hand, could easily do it in the minimum time.

When I was earning my private many years ago, I spent 7 of my required 20 hours of dual learning how to land consistently, without incurring a deductible or my beleaguered instructor’s intervention.  Now, in little more than a one hour flight review I can demonstrate almost all the flight proficiency requirements for my commercial certificate.

Sport pilots seeking a private ticket would be in a similar situation. They would demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency, and the CFI would either accept it or polish it where needed. That leaves most of the minimum required dual for learning skills new to a sport pilot, like flying at night and on instruments. 

And it’s important to remember that the sport pilot’s total time–and the experience gained during it–does count toward other pilot certificates. Logging cross-country time as PIC, for example, counts no matter what level certificate a pilot holds.  –Scott Spangler

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2 Responses to “CFIs Disconnected Between Sport and Private Pilot Training”

  1. Tom Holmes Says:

    Scott,
    yes, the x ctry PIC time counts, but the student doesn’t have the required dual given by a CFI when moving up from a SP, etc.
    Tom

  2. FAA test Says:

    It’s important to remember that the sport pilot’s total time–and the experience gained during it–does count toward other pilot certificates. Logging cross-country time as PIC, for example, counts no matter what level certificate a pilot holds.

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