Getting FAA Licenses & Certifications
To fly as pilot-in-command of a registered powered parachute, you must have Sport Pilot license or higher, and be rated in that category/class.
While you're taking instruction, and before you get your license, you need to practice flying solo, which makes you pilot-in-command (SOMEBODY has got to be in command, and you're the only one there!). As PIC, you need to have an FAA license - so, along comes the Student Pilot Certificate. This is an official FAA license. Here's how you get one.
FAA Student Pilot Certificate
This section provides information on the following topics:
To earn your Sport Pilot license in a Powered Parachute, you must do the following:
1. Take 10 hours of dual instruction and 2 hours of supervised solo from a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).
2. Pass an FAA knowledge test (written) - test takes about an hour - studying for it about 10 to 20 hours.
3. Have a valid driver's license.
4. Pass an oral and a flight test given by an FAA Sport Pilot Examiner (SPE) - takes 3 to 4 hours total.
Note: If you already have a Recreational Pilot license or higher, you only need an endorsement from a CFI that you have been trained in a PPC, and then you need to take an oral and a flight test given by a different CFI. You are adding another category/class rating onto your existing license.
Getting a Sport Pilot license
Powered parachutes at this time fall into two categories:
a. 14 CFR Part 103 legal machine - this means that the aircraft complies with the regulations governing true ultralight machines. It must weight 254 lbs or less, cannot carry more than 5 gallons of fuel, no passengers, and a few other small rules. b. All other machines - they are classified as Light Sport Aircraft - they can carry a passenger, can weigh over 1300 lbs, can carry 10 gallons of fuel, etc.
Part 103 machines do NOT have to be registered. All other powered parachutes that are currently flying MUST be registered by January 31st, 2008, otherwise they can NEVER be registered.
What does "registration" mean?
Registration simply means listing your aircraft with the Federal Avaiation Agency. It is almost free. In return, they will give you an "N" number (all US civil aircraft numbers start with the letter "N"). It consists of four steps:
How do you register your powered parachute?
a. Select a specific registration number for your aircraft. If you don't choose one, the FAA will pick one for you. b. Send in the registration application form. They will send you back the official registration document, which must be in the aircraft at all times. c. Make some calls and get an FAA inspector to inspect your PPC and give you an Airworthiness Certificate. This also must be always in your aircraft. d. Create a document called Operational Limitations, which will be reviewed and approved by the FAA. This also must be in your aircraft at all times.
Your aircraft is now registered, and you have an "N" number on your PPC, and you are just like every other civilian aircraft in the US. Remember - you MUST have all three documents listed above in order for your aircraft to be legally flyable.
Click on the link below to see the specific documents you need to go through the entire registration process.
Registering your aircraft
In the world of powered parachutes (as well in other ultralight aircraft), there used to be no rules. Anybody could buy one, anybody could fly one. Lot of people got hurt. Duh! What would you expect?
So the FAA (Federal Avaiation Administration, who is empowered by Congress to control all US airspace) said - "Whoa there, fellas - you're making all us aviators look bad. So, we'll allow you to have aircraft with two seats in it so you can teach others how to safely fly these things. It authorized three ultralight aviation groups (the EAA, the ASC, and the USUA) to issue "instructor" licenses. Seemed like a sensible move.
So the smart ultralight fliers said, "Great - I can now fly a passenger legally, as long as I pretend that I am teaching!" So we had a whole lot of instructors all of sudden, of whom maybe 5% actually taught flying. So, of course, we still had a lot of people getting hurt, and even worse, we had a lot of people who didn't know the rules of the air and would really annoy other aviators who were playing by the rules. Duh! What would you expect?
So, enough is enough, both the FAA and the ultralight community said. Let's do this right! So, they created the Sport Pilot license, which recognized the fact that yes indeed, it is much easier to learn to fly a powered parachute than a Cessna 172. It also recognized that the people who will share the same air with airliners, military aircraft, and general civilian aviation must know the rules of the air, so they made Sport Pilots learn all this stuff.
As usual, not everybody was happy with the new approach. A lot of old timers who have been flying for a long time all of a sudden had to do a bunch of stuff which seemed confusing to them. Some dropped out. Others bit the bullet, grumbled a lot, but went through the process. And you know what? All of them said when it was all done, "Hey, that wasn't bad at all!" And you know what else? All of them were proud to have a real FAA pilot license which they felt they actually earned!
So, all this stuff is leading up to this - at this time, the FAA applied the same rules they had for other aircraft to create Certified Flight Instructors(CFI) and Sport Pilot Examiners (SPE) for powered parachutes also. To get a CFI rating or a SPE rating, the FAA provided fairly rigorous qualification, education, and experience requirements so the people who complete these course and experience requirements actually can teach and can effectively examine applicants. So now, when you receive a Sport Pilot license, you are really a PILOT!
Some of the functions that the CFI can do are the following:
- provide instruction towards the Sport Pilot Certificate - endorse applicants for the FAA checkride (practical examination) - conduct biennial flight reviews and sign them off - provide additional category/class rating to holders of FAA licenses
Some of the functions that the SPE can do are the following:
- give oral and flight examinations to applicants who have been endorsed by a CFI, and issue a Sport Pilot license - since all SPEs also first have to have their CFI rating, can act in that capacity to give proficiency examinations - issue Student Pilot certificates
Examiners and Instructors
What happened in the stone age of powered parachuting?
How was the Sport pilot born?
What did the FAA do about real instruction?
What do Instructors and Examiners do?
Before you can take the Practical exam with an FAA Sport Pilot Examiner (DPE), you must have a passing grade on a written test. The test is an on-line test administered by a company called LaserGrade, who is authorized by the FAA to give these tests. Click on tab below to get more information on the process.
The tests are given at many airports and other facilities - click on the tab below to get a list of them near you.
To prepare for the test, we recommend theASA Sport Pilot Prepware CD, which does a nice job of going over all the questions and explaining the right answers. It's about $25 - can be bought at several places. See below.
Taking the Knowledge Test