First we are going to answer the question most ask about getting a Private Pilot certificate is:
Can you learn and take a checkride in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)? Yes.
All hours in a Light Sport Aircraft can be used for Private Pilot, instrument training, Commercial, and an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. Yes you can take your Private pilot checkride in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). 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?
This is a two part answer and depends on the ratings held by the CFI you train with.
If the CFI who provides the training is a Subpart H flight instructor (able to train private and sport pilots), all the training time in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) or heavier non-LSA CAN be applied to aeronautical experience towards a private pilot certificate.
For an applicant being trained by CFI Sport Pilot Flight Instructor operating under Part 61 Subpart K:
20 of the total 40 hours “flight time” requirement may be applied to a private pilot certificate without any restrictions or stipulations.
This can be the 10 hours of solo time before or after a sport pilot certificate is issued and an additional 10 hours of miscellaneous “flight time” which can be solo time or dual training before the sport pilot certificate is issued plus solo and pilot time after a sport pilot certificate is issued.
Now for the other 20 hours of “dual flight training” requirement per 61.109. As described above in Part 1, if the CFI is qualified to train private pilots Part 61 Subpart H, all the 20 hours of “dual flight training” count towards the 20 hours of “dual flight training” for a Private Pilot Certificate. This can be in an LSA or heavier Standard Category aircraft (such as a Cessna 172). If the flight instructor is a Sport Pilot CFI Subpart K for the 20 hours of “dual flight training”, this only counts towards a private pilot certificate AFTER the pilot becomes a sport pilot. So in other words, once the pilot becomes a “sport pilot” trained by a sport pilot CFI, all the “dual flight training” counts towards the private pilot “dual flight training”. In this case, the Private Pilot CFI Part 61 subpart H flight instructor will have to do additional flight training for night and preparation for the checkride for which the Sport Pilot CFI is not authorized to do.
This is specified in the Private Pilot Aeronautical Experience requirements FAR 61.109 (L)
This is a little different for WSC trikes so see WSC Trike Private for details.
If the Sport Pilot applicant wants to just skip the Sport Pilot Checkride to become a sport pilot first, 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.