First we are going to answer the question most ask about getting a Private Pilot certificate is:
Can you learn and take a Private Pilot checkride in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)?
Yes. Just like you could always take a private pilot checkride in a classic LSA such as a Piper Cub, Taylorcraft, etc. All hours in a Light Sport Aircraft can be used for Private Pilot, instrument training, Commercial, and an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. Pilots have been training for private in Light Sport Aircraft for over 50 years in the classic Piper Cub, Taylorcraft, etc. The modern Light Sport Aircraft is no different than the classic/vintage LSA.
Second, what Sport Pilot Airplane Single-Engine Land (ASEL) “flight time” and “dual training” aeronautical experience can be applied to requirements for a Private Pilot ASEL certificate?
The answer is yes but there are some important details to understand before you try to apply these. The video covers these details.
As we saw in the video, there are three specific types of training time for the private pilot 40 hours minimum required training time.
40 hours total with
- 20 hours dual
- 10 hours solo
- 10 hours undefined or ANY time in aircraft flight training (with CFI) or PIC (pilot in control)
We will look at each of these types specifically:
10 Hours undefined or ANY time in flight training or PIC (pilot in control)
This is the easiest to understand because it is ANY flight training time with a CFI or PIC (pilot in command) time you have logged. Any solo or dual training (with CFI) time in any category, any solo or pilot in command time as a student or sport pilot. Any time can be used for this 10 hours if you need it to get to 40 if you have 20 dual and 10 solo. This “any time” but does NOT include riding along with another pilot who is not a CFI since it is not dual training or PIC (pilot in command) time for you. Typically you would get this 10 hours as dual training or solo time, or PIC as a sport pilot. But if you happen to be at the minimums 20/10 you can use this to get to 40.
10 Hours Solo
Solo time is solo time so all solo counts except possibly the cross country solo time depending on how long the cross country flights are. For private pilot you need 5 hours of solo cross country solo time. For sport pilot there are no minimum cross country hours. Just a flight with the required distance for sport pilots. For sport pilot requirements, “cross country time” is defined as landing at a point that is at least 25 NM from a departure point. For a private pilot “cross country time” is defined as landing at a point that is at least 50 NM from a departure point. Big difference. So if you want your sport pilot solo cross country time to count towards private pilot, you must fly to points 50 NM miles away to land not just 25 NM which is cross country for sport pilot. Simply Private Pilot cross country is twice as far as Sport Pilot requirements.
Additionally, the required cross country flight for private is 150 NM total with full stop landing at three points with two of those points being at least 50 miles apart. The sport pilot minimum required cross country flight is only 75 NM (private 150 NM), with two stops (private three stops), and a minimum leg of 25 NM (private 50NM). So if you want to use your sport pilot cross country solo time for private, you simply fly the longer legs airport to airport (50 NM) and do your cross country flight of 150 NM not just 75 NM. You can also do this private solo cross country as a sport or private student pilot or as a certificated sport pilot as long is it is solo and meets the private pilot criteria.
Additionally there is this other detail in 61.93 Solo cross-country flight requirements item (e) that is commonly overlooked. For 91.93 (e) Maneuvers and procedures for cross country flight training in a single-engine airplane (12) “Control and maneuvering solely by reference to instruments……etc”. If the sport pilot is flying a light-sport aircraft that has a Vh above 87 knots, the sport pilot needs this instrument flight training. IF the sport pilot instructor has the required training per 61.412 Instrument Training (new in 2019), than he/she can provide this instrument training needed for cross country solo. Note this can also be counted towards the 3 hours instrument training needed for private pilot per 61.109 (3).
Note how the 3 hours instrument training needed for private pilot per 61.109 (3) can be covered during the sport pilot training in preparation for cross-country solo by a Sport Pilot flight instructor if properly trained per 61.412.
20 hours dual flight training
Here are the details you need to know which depends on the flight instructor rating and if you get a Sport Pilot Rating BEFORE the private Pilot…
- Dual flight training is where it gets tricky. To understand the differences in Sport and Private pilot training the differences in flight instructors must be understood. A normal private pilot CFI (subpart H CFI) can train Sport and Private pilots and can teach in both LSA and non-LSA heavier aircraft such as Cessna 152 and 172’s. A flight instructor with a Sport Pilot Instructor rating CFIS (subpart K), can only teach sport pilots and only teach in Light-Sport Aircraft. So yes, if the flight instructor is qualified and current as a private pilot flight instructor CFI (subpart H), then all the dual training time counts towards the sport AND private pilot certificate without any exceptions. If you start training or even get your sport pilot license first with a Private Pilot CFI, all your dual training counts towards the private pilot certificate. Note that in reality not 20 hours of training can be used because you still need 3 hours from a private pilot CFI in preparation for the private pilot checkride 2 calendar months before the checkride so use the 20 minus 3 to get 17 hours minimum dual training that can be used for private. Also note these are “minimum hours” reguiored.
- Yes and No for the Sport Pilot CFI providing the training. If the flight instructor has a Flight Instructor with a Sport Rating (CFIS subpart K), the dual training CAN count towards the 20 hours dual training for the private pilot certificate, IF the pilot has/gets the Sport Pilot rating first. In other words, if the sport pilot goes through and gets the training from a Sport CFI, gets his Sport Pilot Certificate, then the all the flight instruction dual time DOES count towards the private. This is specified in the new FAA Rule 61.109 (L) hiddeen at the end of the Private Pilot requirements. IF the student gets the training from a Sport Pilot CFI, and does not get his Sport Pilot rating, then he/she will need 20 hours of dual training from a Private Pilot CFI for the private pilot certificate. Typically, to go from a sport to a private pilot would take an additional 20 hours anyway for the extra night, instrument, VOR navigation, preparation for the checkride and towered airports dual training. Note same as above, that in reality not 20 hours of training can be used because you need 3 hours from a private pilot CFI in preparation for the private pilot checkride 2 calendar months before the checkride so use the 20 minus 3 to get 17 hours minimum that can be used for private. Again note these are “minimum hours”
Additional items about sport to private flight training
For Weight-Shift Control or Powered Parachute (PPC), it can be a CFI operating under Subpart K which was a Private pilot certificate for the appropriate category (Weight-Shift Control or PPC).
Here is a unique situation where a subpart H (private) flight instructor (CFI) has a current flight instructor certificate but let his 3rd class medical expire. He/she can instruct a student private pilot in a light sport aircraft without a medical and the time counts towards a sport pilot and private pilot because he/she is pilot in command (PIC). All hours count towards a sport and private certificate (except night) because the CFI has a valid Subpart H flight instructor certificate and is PIC of the LSA. He/she cannot fly or provide any flight instruction in a non LSA, at night in any aircraft or in IFR conditions in any aircraft because he/she cannot be pilot in command.
The CFI with expired medical and a CFIS can give instrument training in an LSA required by 61.93 (e)(12) before a student cross country if it has the required equipment as long as they are in day VMC. The CFIS MUST have instrument training per new rule 61.412 to provide this instrument training. No attitude display is required for this and a partial panel (compass, airspeed, altitude) is adequate.
To upgrade from a sport to a private pilot, the airplane sport pilot is trained by a qualified private pilot CFI following the lesson plans provided in this guide, study and take the private pilot knowledge test, and take a checkride with an FAA Private pilot examiner. For Weight-shift Control or Powered Parachute Private Pilot, a Sport Pilot CFI with Private Pilot rating in the WSC or PPC category is OK for dual training for private pilot WSC or PPC.
Generally, there is no additional cost to becoming a sport pilot first except the sport pilot knowledge test and the sport pilot checkride, both which are stepping stones to building knowledge and experience to private pilot knowledge, skill and requirements.
Sport to private just flying off the 20 hours
If the Sport Pilot applicant wants to just skip the Sport Pilot Checkride to become a sport pilot first, and they were trained by a Sport CFI, private pilot training would additionally add:
- 3 hours of night flight training per 61.109 A 2
- 3 hours of instrument training per 61.109 A 3
- 3 hours of preparation for the checkride per 61.109 A 4
That is 9 hours total with the additional 11 minimum hours of “dual flight instruction” conducted by by CFI Part 61 Subpart H required and would typically consisting of:
- Additional time above the minimum 9 hours requirement above for night, instrument and checkride prep,
- Towered airspace operations, radio communications and ATC light signals (at towered airports),
- Navigation systems and radar services (VOR, DME….),
- Items listed in 61.107 (b) (1)
In summary, much of the sport pilot training time can be used for private pilot as specified in 61.109 (L) as outlined above.