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Regulations for our sport

Everything you need to know about regulations for Paramotoring (ultralight vehicles) can be found on this page. We have perhaps the most freedom of any other form of aviation and we want to keep it that way. It's in your best interest and the best interest of everyone else in this sport to know and understand these regulations.

Powered Paragliders fall into the category of Ultralights. In the United States, the regulations that apply to ultralights are in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), Part 103. There are some other regulations concerning Notices to Airmen (NOTAM’s) in FAR part 91 which are also applicable to powered paragliders. Everything you need to know is listed below.

Part 103-Ultralight Vehicles

Operating Requirements

Adopted: July 30,1982 Effective: October 4,1982 (Published in 47 FR 38770, September 2,1982)

SUMMARY: This amendment establishes rules governing the operation of ultralight vehicles in the United States. The rule defines ultralight vehicles in two categories: powered and unpowered. To be considered an ultralight vehicle, a hang glider must weigh less than 155 pounds; while a powered vehicle must weigh less than 254 pounds; is limited to 5 U.S. gallons of fuel; must have a maximum speed of not more than 55 knots; and must have a poweroff stall speed of no more than 24 knots. Both powered and unpowered ultralight vehicles are limited to a single occupant. Those vehicles which exceed the above criteria will be considered aircraft for purposes of airworthiness certification and registration, and their operators will be subject to the same certification requirements as are aircraft operators. These rules for ultralight vehicles are needed to achieve an acceptable level of air safety by reducing potential conflict with other airspace users and to provide protection to persons and property on the ground.

The rule governs the operation of ultralight vehicles by specifying the airspace which requires prior authorization of Air Traffic Control (ATC), prohibiting operation over congested areas, and providing for operations during twilight hours with proper lighting. Right-of-way and minimum visibility rules are also established.

The FAA has chosen not to promulgate Federal regulations regarding pilot certification, vehicle certification, and vehicle registration, preferring that the ultralight community assume the initiative for the development of these important safety programs. The ultralight community is expected to take positive action to develop these programs in a timely manner and gain FAA approval for their implementation. Should this approach fail to meet FAA safety objectives, further regulatory action may be necessary.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Peppard, Airspace and Air Traffic Rules Branch (AAT-220). Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, D.C. 20591, telephone (202) 426-3128, or Gary Perkins, General Aviation Operations Branch (AFO-820) Federal Aviation Administration, Washington, D.C. 20591, telephone (202) 426-8194.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The FAA issued Advisory Circular No. 60-10, entitled “Recommended Safety Parameters for Operation of Hang Gliders” on May 16, 1974. That advisory circular contained recommended safety parameters for the operation of sport hang gliders, in lieu of formal Federal regulation. The advisory circular defined “hang glider” as “an unpowered, single place vehicle whose launch and landing capability depends on the legs of the occupant and whose ability to remain in flight is generated by natural air currents only.” The sport of hang gliding has advanced dramatically since Advisory Circular No. 60-10 was issued.

There is now widespread use of powerplants, landing gear, and movable control surfaces to increase the speed, altitude, and distance capabilities of the vehicles. Many models have passenger carrying capability. As a result of those developments, many hang gliding vehicles no longer fall within the scope envisioned by Advisory Circular No. 60-10.

The addition of powerplants and controllable aerodynamic surfaces has created vehicles which can approximate the operational capabilities of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The increasing performance capabilities of these vehicles, and their greatly increased number, have created a potential hazard to other aircraft and operators, as well as to the ultralight operators themselves. As the result of aerodynamic improvements, many unpowered hang gliders are now capable of extended soaring to altitudes exceeding 10,000 feet above the point of launch and distances of over 100 miles. The powered hang gliders now have the capability of sustained flight above 10,000 feet and forward speed exceeding 50 knots.

The operations of these vehicles are now a significant factor in aviation safety. The vehicles are routinely operated, without authorization, into regulated airspace, such as airport traffic areas, terminal control areas, positive control areas, and prohibited and restricted areas. Many operations have also taken place over congested areas and spectators and into adverse weather conditions in which operations may be conducted by pilots and aircraft which are qualified for instrument flight (IFR conditions). The midair collision potential presented by unauthorized operations is contrary to the FAA responsibility of ensuring the safety of all airspace operations including air carrier aircraft.

To illustrate the potential for hazardous situations that can arise, the FAA has recorded data detailing numerous instances of ultralight vehicles in controlled airspace causing near-miss situations with aircraft. The following examples highlight the problem:

(1) On March 24, 1981, an MU-2 flew between two ultralights operating off the end of the runway at Winter Haven, Florida. Both ultralights were equipped with floats and were operating at night without lights.

(2) On April 11, 1981, a Western Airlines 727 captain reported a near-miss with an ultralight vehicle in the vicinity of Phoenix, Sky Harbor Airport.

(3) In May of 1981, the pilot of a single engine aircraft reported a near-miss with an ultralight vehicle near Paso Robles, California. According to the report filed under the FAA Aviation Safety Reporting Program the ultralight was operating at 7,000 feet in IFR weather conditions. The airplane pilot, who was operating on an IFR flight plan, was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

To establish regulations to deter flights which present a serious danger to aircraft and to provide a basis for necessary enforcement action the FAA published Notice of Proposed Rulemaking No 816 on July 27, 1981 (46 FR 38472). That Notice proposed to include both powered and unpowered hang gliders under the generic term “ultralight vehicle” and included proposed weight and fuel limitations for those vehicles. The Notice proposed a number of operational limitations for ultralight vehicles, while recognizing that the vehicles are used primarily for sport purposes. More than 2,500 persons and organizations submitted comments to that proposed rule. This rule is the result of FAA consideration of those comments in light of its responsibility for safety in the National Airspace System. Because of the growing significance of this segment of the aviation community, the new rules have been codified under a new Part of the Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 103.

THE RULE

Subpart A –General

Section 103.1 Applicability (proposed §101.1(a)(3)).

This section defines the term “ultralight vehicle,” The proposed rule would have limited the term to single-occupant designs weighing less than 155 pounds, with a fuel capacity of 15 pounds or less, and which had no U.S. or foreign airworthiness certificate. The final rule expands the definition to differentiate between powered and unpowered ultralight vehicles. The 155-pound weight limitation has been retained for unpowered designs and is the only criterion for those vehicles. Those ultralights equipped with powerplants must weigh less than 254 pounds empty weight. In addition, powered ultralight vehicles must have a fuel capacity not exceeding 5 U.S. gallons and be incapable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight. The power off stall speed of a powered ultralight must not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed.

The rule restricts both powered and unpowered vehicles to single occupants and requires that the aircraft be used exclusively for sport or recreational purposes.

The FAA estimates that nearly all unpowered vehicles currently on the market will fall within the definition of ultralight vehicle. The new criteria will exclude approximately 7% of the powered vehicle designs currently being marketed as ultralights, although many of those may be suitable for modifications to bring them within the scope of the definition.

Unpowered ultralight vehicles

A number of commenters, including the United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA), object to the inclusion of “pure” hang gliders in the same definition as powered hang gliders. They raise the point that there are a number of distinctive operational differences between a pure hang glider and a powered vehicle which should be considered when assessing the necessity for regulations for these vehicles. The USHGA emphasizes its own self-regulation program and safety record.

The FAA recognizes that the measures taken by the USHGA to promote safety at USHGA launch sites have been effective, particularly those measures taken to protect the participants. However, the basic rationale for issuance of this rule is the safety of all users of the national airspace, not just the ultralight operators. The great majority of hang gliding operations will not be affected by these regulations because as a number of commenters indicate, they are usually conducted in rural or remote areas, at low altitudes away from areas where safety of other persons in the air or on the ground is compromised. It is only in congested areas, airport traffic areas, and other areas frequented by aircraft involved in air commerce that the rules would restrict operations of unpowered ultralight vehicles.

The USHGA’s self-regulation program lacks the legal authority to enforce requirements to ensure the safety of others. There is no requirement for any hang glider operator to be a member of the USHGA.

Current hang glider publications have carried a number of articles describing hang glider operations which violate Part 91 regulations as well as the recommendations of Advisory Circular No. 60 10. Those descriptions have included operations near and into clouds, low-altitude operations over open-air assemblies of persons, and flights in close proximity to airports with large concentrations of airline and general aviation aircraft operations. Those potentially hazardous operations created the requirement for Federal regulatory limitations on hang gliders.

The proposed maximum weight restriction of less than 155 pounds was retained for unpowered ultralight vehicles to:

(1) recognize the unpowered vehicles as a separate entity from those that are powered; and

(2) ensure that the unpowered vehicles continue to meet essentially the same criteria that prevented their being classified as conventional gliders.

Under this rule, those unpowered vehicles weighing 155 pounds or more must be certificated under the appropriate FAR’s. No specific comments were received which objected to the 155-pound limitation on unpowered vehicles.

Powered ultralight vehicles

A large number of commenters request that the proposed maximum empty weight of 155 pounds be raised for powered ultralight vehicles. The suggestions range from 180 to 350 pounds. The reasons offered include greater structural integrity, more opportunity for design innovations, and the fact that many of the vehicles presently operated exhibit all of the other characteristics generally attributed to ultralights but weigh more than the proposed weight limit.

The FAA, by review of ultralight advertisements as of March 1982, has concluded that the empty weights of most of those vehicles range from 150 to 250 pounds. It was further concluded that the higher weights resulted from improvements which provide greater structural integrity, better stability, more positive controllability, and other safety-oriented additions which do not derogate the characteristics commonly associated with ultralight operations. Those characteristics are identified as low forward speeds, low wing loadings, low stall speeds, short takeoff and landing capability, and no enclosures around the pilot.

Some commenters suggest that limitations of 220 pounds or 330 pounds be adopted because they are “international standards.” This is not correct. Canada, England, and Australia adopted 220 pounds as the maximum weight for a particular category of aircraft. In those countries, even if the weight limitation is met, the aircraft must be certificated and the pilots licensed. The 330-pound limit was established by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale for a category called “microlight aircraft.” That category was established merely for the purpose of recording performance achievements of a particular group of aircraft.

The FAA agrees that the weight limitation for powered ultralight vehicles should be raised from the proposed 155 pounds. The 254pound limitation was established because it closely corresponds to commenters’ recommendations that the weight limitation be raised to at least 115 kilos, and because the vast majority of current vehicles on the market weigh less than 254 pounds. This weight does not include floats or safety devices intended for deployment in an emergency situation, e.g., parachutes and the harnesses and ballistic package necessary for deployment.

A large number of commenters recognize that, if the weight were raised, some restriction would have to be imposed to ensure that the characteristics associated with ultralights would be preserved. Those commenters include organizations such as the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and the Professional Ultralight Manufacturers Association (PUMA).

The restrictions they propose range from simple wing loading values to complex aerodynamic formulas. They include maximum wing loading suggestions, minimum wing areas in relation to weight, maximum power capabilities in relation to weight, and calculations of launch mass. Some commenters suggest, and the FAA considered, that the pilot be required to be exposed fully to the relative wind. This requirement was dropped to accommodate cold weather operations and to avoid stifling design and efficiency improvements within the parameters of an ultralight vehicle.

The maximum forward airspeed limitation was selected by the FAA because it is faster than almost all ultralight vehicles currently being sold but still places those vehicles in a significantly slower performance category than conventional aircraft. The determination and enforcement of this speed limitation is within the capability and resources of the FAA under the inspection requirement of the rule.

A number of commenters suggest maximum stall speed restrictions ranging from 18 to 25 miles per hour, believing that this limitation would continue to ensure the safe nature of ultralight vehicles. The FAA believes that the ability of those vehicles to operate from surfaces other than those designed for aircraft is a factor which lessens the potential for collisions and reduces the interference with aircraft operations. A relatively slow stall speed is a major contributing factor in allowing ultralight pilots to operate in a safe manner.

A maximum power-off stall speed of 24 knots was chosen because it encompasses most of the vehicles currently on the market. The stall speed is easily determined through a simple calculation using information which is readily available to the FAA inspector when inspecting a specific vehicle. The total allowable fuel capacity was raised from the proposed 15 pounds to 5 U.S. gallons. The decision to increase the volume of fuel is a direct result of the desire by the FAA, in response to public comments, to ensure that adequate fuel reserves are available for safe flight.

Single Occupant

The rule limits both powered and unpowered ultralight vehicles to a single occupant. A few commenters suggest that two-seat versions be available for carrying passengers or for training purposes. The basis for allowing ultralight vehicles to operate under special rules which do not require pilot and aircraft certification is the “sport” aspect of the operation.

For example, the assumption can be made that a person who elects, without pilot qualifications, to operate an uncertificated vehicle alone is fully aware of the risks involved. This assumption does not hold true of a passenger selected randomly from the general public. Persons in the general public will likely assume that the operator has certificated pilot qualifications.

Because pilot qualifications are not controlled or monitored, the single-occupant requirement is a necessary component in the continuation of the policies which allow the operation of ultralight vehicles free from many of the restrictions imposed on aircraft. Persons wishing to operate two place vehicles have the availability of existing provisions of the FAR’s for conducting such operations.

Recreation or Sport Purposes Only

Recent activities and advertisements in ultralight-oriented publications (included in the docket) imply that commercial operations may be conducted by an uncertificated pilot in an ultralight which has not been certificated as an aircraft. Those types of operations are not allowed under the rule.

Several commenters suggest that ultralight vehicles be limited to sport or recreational purposes only. The position of the FAA has consistently been that these vehicles may be operated for sport and recreation purposes only. The justification for allowing the operation of these vehicles without requiring aircraft and pilot certification has been that this activity is a ”sport” generally conducted away from concentrations of population and aircraft operations. Like any sport, the participants are viewed as taking personal risks which do not affect others not involved in the activity.

Section 103.3 Inspection requirements (proposed §101.55)

This section ensures the FAA’s authority to inspect ultralight vehicles for compliance with the limits specified in §103.1 and is retained in the final rule as proposed in Notice No. 81-6. A large number of commenters object to the inspection requirements, believing that considerable FAA manpower and resources would be required in this effort. The USHGA and its membership contributed a majority of the objecting comments, citing the remoteness of hang gliding sites as impractical for the FAA to monitor.

Given the current level of ultralight activity, the FAA is confident that enforcement of the provisions of Part 103 can be accomplished with the existing resources. As is the case today, many investigations of suspected violations are prompted by reports received from pilots, air traffic controllers, citizens, and other sources. The FAA foresees no appreciable increase in the number of these reports as a result of this rule.

Section 103.5 Waivers

In proposing to include ultralight operations under Part 101, ultralights would have been eligible for the waiver provisions applicable to all operations under that Part. By removing the ultralight proposal from Part 101, the waiver eligibility for ultralights would have been lost. The FAA has concluded that the ultralight industry and the public would be best served by retention of waiver eligibility for these vehicles.

Thus, §103.5 is added to the final rule, giving the ultralight operator the opportunity to apply for a certificate of waiver from any provisions of Part 103.

Section 103.7 Certification and registration

The intent of the FAA is to provide for safety in the national airspace with a minimum amount of regulation. Accordingly, those vehicles which meet the definition of “ultralight vehicle”‘ will be exempt from FAA certification and registration requirements. Similarly, pilots of ultralight vehicles, as defined in this Part, will not be required to possess FAA pilot certificates or airman medical certificates.

While this rule does not, at this time, require airman/aircraft certification or vehicle registration and is premised on the absolute minimum regulation necessary to ensure safety in the public interest, a continuation of burgeoning growth of the ultralight population could necessitate further regulation. The best practices and methods to preclude the need for further Federal regulation appear to at least include: self-regulation and self-policing, safety standards, membership in organizations and associations equipped to function and operate programs approved by the FAA, markings and identification of vehicles, programs including provisions similar to Federal Aviation Regulations relating to aircraft (both operation and airworthiness), etc.

FAA will continue to monitor performance of the ultralight community in terms of safety statistics, growth trends and maturity and, if indicated, will take additional regulatory actions to preclude degradation of safety to the general public while allowing maximum freedom for ultralight operations. In summary, it should be emphasized that the individual ultralight operator’s support and compliance with national self-regulation programs is essential to the FAA’s continued policy of allowing industry self regulation in these areas.

Pilot Certification

A large number of commenters believe that there should be some requirement that pilots of ultralights be required to exhibit some knowledge and/or experience before being allowed to operate these vehicles. The suggestions range from no requirements to pilot certification under the requirements of Part 61. The general groupings of the comments are: (1) No certification; (2) required ground training on regulations and conventional aircraft operations; (3) required ground training and instructor sign-off for unsupervised solo operations: (4) successful passage of a written test, such as the FAA glider pilot written examination; (5) issuance of an Ultralight Pilot Certificate by the FAA based on satisfactory completion of a examination, and observed performance as the pilot of an ultralight; and (6) conforming to the certification requirements of Part 61 for student and private pilots.

The FAA endorses the ultralight community’s efforts to develop and administer, under FAA guidelines, a national pilot certification program. At this time, however, pilots of ultralight vehicles are not required by Federal regulation to be certificated.

Aircraft Registration

Some commenters, primarily State and local governments, recommend that these vehicles be registered and be required to display their registration number. The reasons center around identification of any offenders. The FAA’s experience in identification of offenders and processing enforcement action validates their recommendations. The FAA endorses the ultralight community’s efforts to develop and maintain, under FAA guidelines, a national registration system which would be immediately accessible to the FAA. However, registration of ultralight vehicles will not be required by Federal regulation at this time.

Aircraft Certification

There are a small number of commenters who recommend additional Federal regulations requiring certification of ultralight vehicles to some design standards. The FAA has consistently refrained from the certification of these vehicles because they were occupied by a single occupant for sport or recreational purposes. This policy is in accord with Federal regulatory policies regarding other sport activities. The pilots of these vehicles accept the responsibility for assuring their personal safety much as the driver of a moped street vehicle or a scuba diver does when engaged in his sport. The FAA has noted and commends the efforts of the USHGA to establish design standards and flight testing of new hang glider designs. The FAA endorses the development of similar standards and testing of new powered designs by the ultralight community. However, the FAA presently has no intent to require certification of these vehicles by Federal regulation.

Subpart B-Operating Rules

Section 103.9 Hazardous operations (proposed §101.7)

This section prohibits any ultralight operator from engaging in activity which jeopardizes the safety of persons or property on the ground or in the air. The prohibition against hazardous flight or dropping of objects is common to the regulations pertaining to civil aircraft, and the FAA is addressing ultralight operations with equivalent stringency.

Section 103.11 Daylight operations (proposed §101.43)

The proposed rule would have limited the operation of ultralights to the hours between official sunrise and official sunset. The limitation on daytime operations was retained with an added provision for twilight operations under certain conditions. Other night-time operations are not allowed.

A large number of commenters request that flight during the twilight periods of the day be allowed since those are prime times to conduct ultralight operations. They state that meteorological conditions are often best during those periods and are characterized by a lack of wind and turbulence. The AOPA believes that calm air is particularly important for the novice flyer and provides an increased safety factor, especially during training when confidence building is essential. Many commenters believe that the available light is generally adequate to allow operations during these periods and that other craft could be safely avoided.

There are some commenters who believe that operations in Alaska should be excluded from the daylight operations section. They allude to the uniqueness of their “normal” day and how ultralight operations would be adversely affected.

Several comments support the original proposal and do not want operations during the nighttime hours. The primary concern centers around the difficulty in seeing these vehicles, especially at the higher altitudes, and the perceived inability of these operations to be conducted safely. The FAA has observed ultralight operations during the twilight periods and has found the light available for such operations to be adequate in many instances. Operators were able to maneuver safely to avoid each other and also effect safe takeoffs and landings. Since most vehicles are operated at nearly the same altitude, they could be easily seen silhouetted against the lighted sky. Operations were conducted in relatively close proximity to each other, and each operator was readily aware of the others’ presence. The mild weather conditions which generally prevailed during the twilight periods combined with the controllability and maneuverability of these vehicles to enhance the safety factor for flight.

The FAA is concerned, however. that unlimited operations of this type could pose a threat to aircraft which operate at higher speeds and higher altitudes. The number of potential encounters between aircraft and ultralights increases significantly as ultralights operate into areas normally traversed by certificated aircraft. Also, the ability of aircraft pilots descending into the lower altitudes to see ultralights would be minimal due to the darkened backdrop of the ground. Pilots would often not be aware of such operations taking place and could easily overrun an ultralight without ever having visual contact.

The FAA has adopted an alternative which provides an acceptable level of safety to aircraft while still allowing ultralights to operate in uncontrolled airspace during this period of the day. The FAA’s conclusion on this issue is to disallow ultralight operations in controlled airspace during the period from sunset to sunrise. This affords aircraft operators the margin of safety to which they are entitled and, at the same time, leaves adequate airspace to the ultralight operator during a 30-minute twilight period.

The FAA has determined that the occasional aircraft operation in uncontrolled airspace during the twilight period should not entirely preclude ultralight operations. The visibility from above of ultralights operating at very low levels can be significantly enhanced by the addition of an anticollision light on these vehicles. Such a light would provide the descending aircraft pilot with a distinct indication of the ultralight’s presence. Additionally, it would enable ultralight operators to better see and avoid each other.

For the purposes of ultralight operation, an anticollision light is defined as any flashing or stroboscopic device that is of sufficient intensity so as to be visible for at least 3 statute miles. This regulatory approach does not impose on the ultralight owner the economic burden associated with a certificated lighting system. The ultralight must remain in uncontrolled airspace, and the anti-collision light must be operating during the twilight periods whenever the vehicle is in motion. With respect to twilight operations in Alaska, the FAA recognizes that the periods of twilight are significantly different from those experienced in the lower latitudes. A review of the Air Almanac reveals that, in the upper latitudes, some days have no daylight periods but have over 4 hours of civil twilight. Civil twilight is defined as the period between official sunset and sunrise when the sun is less than 6 degrees below the horizon.

Regulations currently exist in Parts 91 and 101 which acknowledge the need to give special allowances for operations in Alaska after sunset, and the FAA has determined that ultralights are entitled to the same consideration. Therefore, a provision to permit ultralight operations in Alaska during civil twilight has been added § 103.11. The requirement to have an operating anticollision light during twilight operations is applicable to operations during this period in Alaska.

Section 103.13 Operations near aircraft and other ultralight vehicles;

Right-of-way rules (proposed § 101.49).

The proposed regulations with respect to ultralight vehicle right-of-way are adopted. An additional provision is added to clarify the right-of-way requirements in situations involving powered and unpowered ultralight vehicles.

The comments regarding right-of-way range from those who believe that unpowered ultralight vehicles should have the right-of-way over all other vehicles and aircraft to those who believe that the requirements of § 91.67 should be adopted, with unpowered ultralights being grouped with gliders and the powered ultralights grouped with airplanes. The most salient reasons cited include lack of maneuvering ability and inability to change location in the air quickly.

The suggestions and associated rationale do not reveal any areas which had not been considered during the formulation of the NPRM. The FAA has determined that uncertificated sport operations should not be given the right-of-way over all other aircraft. The small size and sport nature of the operations is a major factor in that determination it is unlikely that the pilot of aircraft will be able to see the ultralight vehicle as readily as the pilot of the ultralight vehicle will be able to see or hear the larger aircraft. Due to the forward speeds of the majority of aircraft, it may be impossible for the aircraft to make sudden changes of direction required to avoid small objects sighted at close quarters. The FAA recommends that operators engaged in ultralight operations avoid, if possible, areas where significant operations of aircraft are occurring so as to minimize the risk of midair collisions.

Some ultralight operators express concern that, if they are not given the right-of-way over aircraft, the pilots of those aircraft might deliberately fly in close proximity to the ultralights. In situations where this act can be substantiated, an investigation will be initiated to determine whether the pilot of the conventional aircraft operated in a careless or reckless manner in violation of § 91.9.

Some commenters recommend the establishment of areas where ultralight operations could be conducted and all aircraft operations would be prohibited. While the FAA has undertaken to identify locations on aeronautical charts where a specialized aeronautical activity, such as parachute jumping or gliding, is being conducted, no action is anticipated which would restrict other types of aeronautical activities in those areas and, similarly, no such action is contemplated for ultralights.

Section 103.15 Operations over congested areas (proposed §101.47).

The proposed prohibition of ultralight vehicle operations over congested areas is retained in the final rule. The comments favoring an easing of the proposed rule focus on three main areas: (1) Those who favor permitting operations with a minimum altitude ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 feet AGL; (2) those requesting that the minimum altitude requirements of §91.79 be allowed: and (3) those who believe that no minimum altitude should be specified, especially for unpowered vehicles, due to the short field ability and small size of the vehicles.

The representatives of cities and towns who commented generally favor the prohibition, believing that uncertificated aviation activities have no place over congested areas.

The FAA’s position is based on the fact that ultralight vehicles are not certificated as airworthy by any approved method and are flown by uncertificated pilots for sport or recreational purposes only. Similar limitations apply to the operations of experimental and restricted category aircraft based on catastrophic incidents which have occurred in the past. The potential for such an incident makes the general issuance of the suggested authorization unacceptable. The FAA believes that concentrations of the general public must be protected from the possible dangers inherent in the operations of vehicles of uncertificated, possibly unproven designs. In specific limited instances, with appropriate operational limitations, ultralight operations may be approved over congested areas, through the waiver provisions of §103.5.

Section 103.17 Operations in certain airspace (proposed §101.45). The NPRM proposed to require the ultralight operator to obtain authorization prior to operating within airport traffic areas, control zones, terminal control areas, and positive controlled airspace.

Operators of aircraft commented that the speed and visibility of ultralights are incompatible with other operations and that they should not be allowed at all in those areas. Some even suggest that a maximum operating altitude, such as 3,000 feet AGL, be imposed on all ultralight operations. The FAA shares the concern expressed by pilots who are wary of the ability to intermix faster aircraft safely with the relatively slow ultralights; but, experience has shown that aircraft of significantly different performance characteristics can be accommodated when operations are conducted in accordance with specific authorizations. There is considerable precedence in the form of glider operations, hot air ballooning. and parachuting being conducted while aircraft safely transit the area. Historically, the greatest danger comes not from performance variables, but from operations unknown to the pilot or controller. The requirement to gain authorization before entering these airspace areas enhances the safety to all airspace users. The FAA has concluded that ultralight vehicles in compliance with the provisions of 103.17 will be able to operate safely in those airspace areas.

Although the subject was not addressed in the NPRM, some commenters voice concern about ultralight operations conducted at or near uncontrolled airports, with many persons noting a need to develop standard operating procedures. The FAA agrees with the need to establish a compatible method of operation at uncontrolled airports but believes that the variables associated with each locality (terrain, runway configuration, and the physical properties of the airport combine in such a manner to preclude a generalized nationwide regulatory approach. The FAA has concluded that such operations could be handled much more efficiently by airport managers developing local procedures in concert with the ultralight community. In this way the available facilities can be used to the full extent while operational safety is maintained. Additionally. the interaction of the ultralight operators and the airport managers will serve as a basis for mutual understanding of the role this growing segment of aviation will play in the years ahead. The FAA encourages and supports efforts to reach such agreements and has been working with user groups in the development of guidelines for ultralight operations at uncontrolled airports.

Section 103.19 Operations in prohibited or restricted areas.

In the NPRM, requirements for operations of ultralights were included under the provisions of §101.5. In the final rule, the requirement for ultralight operators to obtain authorization prior to operating in prohibited or restricted areas is retained and restated under §103.19. Prohibited areas have been developed to provide for the safety and security of operations being conducted and to segregate activities considered to be hazardous to non-participating aircraft. Such operations in these areas include military and presidential security, flight training and testing, experimental weapons testing, and the launch and recovery of rocket-powered vehicles.

Many commenters recognize the need to limit access to these operating areas and accept the requirement to obtain permission prior to operating in these areas. A few commenters believe that this restriction should not apply to them and that ultralight vehicles should be allowed to operate at their own risk.

The FAA has determined that allowing any aeronautical activity to enter prohibited or restricted areas without prior authorization would derogate the purpose for which these areas were established. Avoidance of such areas by ultralight operators is not viewed as imposing a significant burden on ultralight operations .

Section 103.21 Visual reference to the surface (proposed §101.51).

NPRM No. 81 – 6 proposed that ultralight operators be required to maintain visual reference to the surface during all flight operations. This would ensure that the operator of an ultralight would have the opportunity to descend and land safely at any time without entering obscuring weather phenomena. Many commenters support the proposal as reasonable and representative of normal ultralight operations. They recognize the possibility of being caught “on top” and the danger, both to themselves and to other airspace users, of trying to descend through a layer of clouds. A few commenters believe that visual reference to the surface is necessary only while climbing or descending and not while in level flight.

The FAA has determined that visual reference with the surface is necessary at all times. Experience with certificated aircraft has shown that many pilots, with fully instrumented aircraft, have been caught “on top” and have required assistance from Air Traffic Control to descend safely. Flying “on top” or between cloud layers often presents visual illusions which cannot be verified without instrumentation. The effect of these illusions is to disorient the airman spatially, with a resulting loss of control of the aircraft. It takes a well-trained and disciplined pilot to ignore what information the human senses are providing and rely on the instrumentation aboard the aircraft.

In the case of ultralights, there is relatively little, if any, instrumentation with which to confirm the flight attitude of the vehicle. Further, if the ultralight operator should get caught “on top” there is no alternative available but to descend unannounced through the clouds. The ultralight operator would be risking not only his own life, but the lives of persons who rely on the safeguards inherent in certificated aviation.

The FAA has determined that inclusion in the final rule of the requirement to maintain visual reference with the surface is necessary to reduce the potential for collisions and ensure the safe operation of ultralight vehicles.

Section 103.21 Flight visibility and cloud clearance requirement (proposed § 101.53).

The flight visibility and cloud clearance requirements proposed in the NPRM are the same as those under §91.105, the basic minimums for VFR flight operations by fixed-wing aircraft. Since ultralight vehicles will be sharing the same airspace, the FAA has determined it is practical to apply the same operating minimums.

Many commenters to this proposal are receptive to the similarity in visibility requirements for all airspace users. Many ultralight operators indicate an appreciation for the inherent safety in being able to see and avoid obstructions and other aeronautical activities. Establishment of specific visibility standards is viewed as enhancing the legitimacy and the utility of ultralight operations.

Some commenters believed that the distance from clouds should be reduced to “clear of clouds.” Their basis for such a change centers around the difficulty in determining actual distances from clouds.

Other commenters suggest that hang gliders be allowed to continue their practice of operating near and in the base of clouds. Their rationale is based on the added lift available from being in close proximity to cumulous clouds. Some hang glider operators fear that the restriction on in-cloud operations would eliminate their ability to vie for long-distance and high-altitude records. The FAA cannot support the operation of ultralights in or near clouds. A specific distance from clouds is required when operating in controlled airspace, primarily due to the presents of aircraft conducting instrument flight operations through the clouds. The cloud clearance requirements serve as a practical buffer to reduce the possibility of having an aircraft exit the clouds on an unalterable collision course. Operations too close to clouds does, in effect, cause a blind side in the aviator’s vision. Operation in and near clouds severely restricts the ultralight operator’s ability to see and avoid, an ability that is paramount in allowing ultralight operations to take place.

In maintaining a safe distance from clouds, the FAA has concluded that Ultralight operators can reasonably approximate, when operations are being conducted, the required distance from clouds. Experience with other segments of aviation has shown that it is readily apparent that, when operations approach an unsafe distance from clouds and adherence to the prescribed minimum distance determination becomes relatively easy. Therefore, retention of the flight visibility and clouds clearance requirements, as proposed, is essential for maintaining airspace safety.

Adoption of the Amendment

Accordingly, the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR Chapter 1) are amended, effective October 4, 1982, by adding to Subchapter F (14 CFR Chapter 1) a new Part 103. (Secs. 307,313(a), 601(a), 602 and 603, Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (49 U.S.C. §§ 1348, 1354(a), 1421(a), 1422, and 1423; sec. 6(c), Department of Transportation Act (49 U.S.C. § 1655(c)).

NOTE: The FAA has determined that this regulation is not a major rule under executive Order 12291. Because the rule will regulate a new user segment and because of substantial public interest, it has been determined that it is a significant rule pursuant to the Department of Transportation Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979). The total projected costs of this rule may be found in a copy of the regulatory evaluation contained in the public docket. A copy of that evaluation may be obtained by contacting the person identified above under the caption “FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.” It is certified under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. There are very few small entities involved in ultralight vehicle activities and the majority of those will be unaffected by the implementation of this rule.

Subpart A-General

103.1 Applicability.

103.3 Inspection requirements.

103.5 Waivers.

103.7 Certification and registration.

Subpart B-Operating Rules

103.9 Hazardous operations.

103.11 Daylight operations.

103.13 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.

103.15 Operations over congested areas.

103.17 Operations in certain airspace.

103.19 Operations in prohibited or restricted areas.

103.20 Flight Restrictions in the Proximity of Certain Areas Designated by Notice to Airmen.

103.21 Visual reference with the surface.

103.23 Flight visibility and cloud clearance requirements.

Authority: Secs. 307, 313(a), 601(a), 602, and 603, Federal Aviation Act of1958 (49 U.S.C. 1348, 1354(a), 1421(a), 1422, and 1423); sec. 6(c), Department of Transportation Act (49 U.S.C. 1655(c). Source: Docket No. 21631, 47 FR 38776, Sept. 2, 1982, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A-General

103.1 Applicability

This part prescribes rules governing the operation of ultralight vehicles in the United States. For the purposes of this part, an ultralight vehicle is a vehicle that:

(a) Is used or intended to be used for manned operation in the air by a single occupant;

(b) Is used or intended to be used for recreation or sport purposes only;

(c) Does not have any U.S. or foreign airworthiness certificate; and

(d) If unpowered, weighs less than 155 pounds; or

(e) If powered:

(1) Weighs less than 254 pounds empty weight, excluding floats and safety devices which are intended for deployment in a potentially catastrophic situation;

(2) Has a fuel capacity not exceeding 5 U.S. gallons;

(3) Is not capable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight; and

(4) Has a power-off stall speed which does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed.

103.3 Inspection requirements.

(a) Any person operating an ultralight vehicle under this part shall, upon request, allow the Administrator, or his designee, to inspect the vehicle to determine the applicability of this part.

(b) The pilot or operator of an ultralight vehicle must, upon request of the Administrator, furnish satisfactory evidence that the vehicle is subject only to the provisions of this part.

103.5 Waivers.

No person may conduct operations that require a deviation from this part except under a written waiver issued by the Administrator.

103.7 Certification and registration.

(a) Notwithstanding any other section pertaining to certification of aircraft or their parts or equipment, ultralight vehicles and their component parts and equipment are not required to meet the airworthiness certification standards specified for aircraft or to have certificates of airworthiness.

(b) Notwithstanding any other section pertaining to airman certification, operators of ultralight vehicles are not required to meet any aeronautical knowledge, age, or experience requirements to operate those vehicles or to have airman or medical certificates.

(c) Notwithstanding any other section pertaining to registration and marking of aircraft, ultralight vehicles are not required to be registered or to bear markings of any type.

Subpart B-Operating Rules

103.9 Hazardous operations.

(a) No person may operate any ultralight vehicle in a manner that creates a hazard to other persons or property.

(b) No person may allow an object to be dropped from an ultralight vehicle if such action creates a hazard to other persons or property.

103.11 Daylight operations.

(a) No person may operate an ultralight vehicle except between the hours of sunrise and sunset.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, ultralight vehicles may be operated during the twilight periods 30 minutes before official sunrise and 30 minutes after official sunset or, in Alaska, during the period of civil twilight as defined in the Air Almanac, if:

(1) The vehicle is equipped with an operating anticollision light visible for at least 3 statute miles; and

(2) All operations are conducted in uncontrolled airspace.

103.13 Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.

(a) Each person operating an ultralight vehicle shall maintain vigilance so as to see and avoid aircraft and shall yield the right-of-way to all aircraft.

(b) No person may operate an ultralight vehicle in a manner that creates a collision hazard with respect to any aircraft.

(c) Powered ultralights shall yield the right-of-way to unpowered ultralights.

103.15 Operations over congested areas.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons.

103.17 Operations in certain airspace.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle within Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from the ATC facility having jurisdiction over that airspace.

103.19 Operations in prohibited or restricted areas.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle in prohibited or restricted areas unless that person has permission from the using or controlling agency, as appropriate.

103.20 Flight Restrictions in the Proximity of Certain Areas Designated by Notice to Airmen.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle in areas designated in a Notice to Airmen under § 91.137, § 91.138, 91.141, § 91.143 or § 91.145 of this chapter, unless authorized by:

(a) Air Traffic Control (ATC); or

(b) A Flight Standards Certificate of Waiver or Authorization issued for the demonstration or event. [103.20 was amended 9/11/01 as per Federal Register page 66 FR 47378]

103.21 Visual reference with the surface.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle except by visual reference with the surface.

103.23 Flight visibility and cloud clearance requirements.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle when the flight visibility or distance from clouds is less than that in the table found below. All operations in Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D airspace or Class E airspace designated for an airport must receive prior ATC authorization as required in 103.17 of this part.

Airspace Flight Visibility Distance From Clouds
Class A Not applicable Not applicable
Class B 3 statute miles Clear of Clouds.
Class C 3 statute miles 500 feet below.1,000 feet above.2,000 feet horizontal.
Class D 3 statute miles 500 feet below.1,000 feet above.2,000 feet horizontal.
Class E – Less than 10,000 feet MSL 3 statute miles 500 feet below.1,000 feet above.2,000 feet horizontal.
Class E – At or above 10,000 feet MSL 5 statute miles 1,000 feet below.1,000 feet above.1 statute mile horizontal.
Class G – 1,200 feet or less above the surface (regardless of MSL altitude) 1 statute mile Clear of clouds.
Class G – More than 1,200 feet above the surface but less than 10,000 feet MSL 1 statute mile 500 feet below.1,000 feet above.2,000 feet horizontal.
Class G – More than 1,200 feet above the surface and at or above 10,000 feet MSL 5 statute miles 1,000 feet below.1,000 feet above.1 statute mile horizontal.

FAA Advisory Circular AC 103-7

U.S. Department Advisory of Transportation
Federal Aviation Circular Administration
Subject: THE ULTRALIGHT VEHICLE Date: 1/30/84 AC No: AC 103-7 Initiated by: AF0-820

1. PURPOSE. This advisory circular provides guidance to the operators of ultralights in the United States. It discusses the elements which make up the definition of ultralight vehicles for the purposes of operating under Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 103, It also discusses when an ultralight must be operated as an aircraft under the regulations applicable to certificated aircraft.

2. BACKGROUND.

a. The number of ultralight vehicles and participants in the various aspects of this sport has increased dramatically in recent years. All indications are that this growth will continue. The presence of these vehicles in the national airspace has become a factor to be considered in assuring the safety of all users of the airspace.

b. On October 4, 1982, a new regulation (Part 103) applicable to the operation of ultralight vehicles became effective. This regulation defines those vehicles which may be operated as “ultralight vehicles” and provides operating rules which parallel those applicable to certificated aircraft. The Federal Aviation Regulations regarding aircraft certification, pilot certification, and aircraft registration are not applicable to ultralight vehicles or their operators.

c. Ultralight vehicle operations may only be conducted as sport or recreational activity. The operators of these vehicles are responsible for assessing the risks involved and assuring their own personal safety. The rules in Part 103 are intended to assure the safety of those not involved in the sport, including persons and property on the surface and other users of the airspace. The ultralight community is encouraged to adopt good operating practices and programs in order to avoid more extensive regulation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

3. DEFINITIONS. For the purpose of this advisory circular, the following definitions apply:

a. Ultralight Vehicle. This term refers to ultralights meeting the applicability for operations under Part 103.

b. Recognized Technical Standards Committee. This term refers to a group of at least three persons technically qualified to determine whether a given ultralight meets the requirements for operations under Part 103, as follows:

(1) It is recognized by a national pilot representative organization,
(2) It is comprised of persons not directly associated with the manufacture and/or sale of the make of ultralight being inspected, and
(3) It conducts its review and documents the findings in accordance with the guidance provided in this circular.

4. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE PERSON WHO WANTS TO FLY UNDER PART 103?

a. You are Responsible for Your Personal Safety. Certificated aircraft are designed, light tested, manufactured, maintained, and operated under Federal regulations intended to provide an aircraft of consistent performance, controllability, structural integrity, and maintenance. An ultralight vehicle is not subject to Federal aircraft certification and maintenance standards. This means that the costs of purchasing and maintaining an ultralight vehicle may be considerably less than the purchase of a certificated aircraft. There is no assurance that a particular ultralight vehicle will have consistent performance, controllability, structural integrity, or maintenance. Your safety, and potentially that of others, depends on your adherence to good operation and maintenance practices. This includes proper preflight techniques, operation of the vehicle within the manufacturer’s recommended flight envelope, operation only in safe weather conditions, and providing safety devices in anticipation of emergencies. Part 103 is based on the assumption that any individual who elects to fly an ultralight vehicle has assessed the dangers involved and assumes personal responsibility for his/her safety.

b. You are Limited to Single-Occupant operations. Part 103 is based on the single-occupant concept; operation by an individual who has assumed all responsibility for his/her personal safety, Pilots of ultralight vehicles subject to Part 103 are not required to have training or previous experience prior to the operation of these vehicles. You should consider receiving adequate
training prior to participation.

c. You are Limited to Recreation and Sport Purposes, Operations for any other purpose are not authorized under the applicability of Part l03.

d. You are Limited as Necessary for the Safety of Other Persons and Property, Part 103 consists of operating rules which were determined necessary for the safety of other users of the airspace and persons on the surface. These rules were developed in consideration of the capabilities of the vehicles and their pilots, It is your responsibility to know, understand and comply with
these rules. Ignorance of the regulations pertaining to the activities you pursue is not an acceptable excuse for violating those regulations.

e. You are Responsible for the Future Direction the Federal Government Takes With Respect to Ultralight Vehicles, The actions of the ultralight community will affect the direction Government takes in future regulations. The safety record of ultralight vehicles will be the foremost factor in determining the need for further regulations.

5. FAA CONTACT POINTS. The FAA will provide clarification of particular subject areas, information, and assistance pertaining to the operations of ultralight vehicles through the following contacts:

a, Flight Standards Field Offices. Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs), General Aviation District Offices (GADOs), and Manufacturing and Inspection District Offices (MIDDS) are the FAA field offices where information and assistance are available regarding the operation of ultralight vehicles, acceptable methods of complying with Part 103 requirements, and compliance with
other regulations should it become necessary to operate an ultralight as a certificated aircraft.

b. Air Traffic Control Facilities. FAA Air Traffic Control facilities are located throughout the United States and maintain jurisdiction over the use of the controlled airspace in their particular area. To obtain authorization to operate from or into the airspace designated in S 103,17, contact must be made with the controlling facilities.

c. Flight Service Stations, These facilities provide operational information to pilots,, such as weather briefings, advisory information regarding the status of facilities, etc., and are the most accessible of the FAA points of contact. They can provide additional information regarding how to reach the other points of contacts mentioned here,

d. Airports District Offices. These offices inspect airports certificated under Part 139 of the FARS to get ermine whether an airport is safe for public use. Persons wanting to establish new airports or flight parks, or operate ultralight vehicles from Federally-funded airports, may contact these offices for assistance.

6.-9. RESERVED.

SECTION 1, WHAT IS AN ULTRALIGHT VEHICLE?

10. SCOPE AND CONTENTS. This section discusses the elements contained in 103 .l which make up the definition of an “ultralight vehicle” and the proper way to assure that Part 103 applies.

11. APPLICABILITY OF PART 103.

a. Probably the single most critical determination which must be made is whether or not your vehicle and the operations you have planned are permitted under Part 103. The fact that you are operating a vehicle which is called or advertised as a “powered ultralight,” “hang glider,” or “hang balloon” is not an assurance that it can be operated as an ultralight vehicle under Part 103. There are a number of elements contained in 103.1 which make up the definition of the “ultralight vehicle.” If you fail to meet any one of the elements, you may not operate under Part 103. Any operations conducted without meeting all of the elements are subject to all aircraft certification, pilot certification, equipment requirements, and aircraft operating rules applicable to the particular operation.

b. The FAA realizes that it is possible to design an ultralight which, on paper, meets the requirements of 103.1, but in reality does not. However, the designers, manufacturers of the kits, and builders are not responsible to the FAA for meeting those requirements. Operators of ultralights should bear in mind that they are responsible for meeting 103.1 during each flight. The FAA will hold the operator of a given flight responsible if it is later determined that the ultralight did not meet the applicability for operations under Part 103. Be wary of any designs which are advertised as meeting the requirements for use as an ultralight vehicle, yet provide for performance or other design innovations which are not in concert with any element of 103. 1. The FAA may inspect any ultralight which appears, by design or performance, to not comply with 103.1.

c. If the FAA Determines Your Ultralight Was Not Eligible for Operation as an Ultralight Vehicle If your ultralight does not meet 103.1, it must be operated in accordance with applicable aircraft regulations. You will be subject to enforcement action ($1000 civil penalty for each violation) for each operation of that aircraft.

12. ELEMENTS MAKING UP THE DEFINITION OF AN ULTRALIGHT VEHICLE.

a. Single Occupancy. An ultralight cannot be operated under Part 103 if there is more than one occupant or if it has provisions for more than one occupant.

b. Sport or Recreational Purposes Only. An ultralight cannot be operated under Part 103 if it is operated for purposes other than sport or recreation or if it is equipped for other uses.

c. No Airworthiness Certificate. An ultralight cannot be operated under Part 103 if it has been issued a-current U.S. or foreign airworthiness certificate.

d. Unpowered Vehicles. An unpowered ultralight cannot be operated under Part 103 if it weighs 155 pounds or more, Balloons and gliders are unpowered vehicles,

e. Powered Vehicles, A powered ultralight cannot be operated under Part 103 when it has an empty weight of 254 pounds or are; has a fuel capacity exceeding 5 U.S. gallons; is capable of more than 55 knots airspeed at full power in level flight; and has a power-off stall speed which exceeds 24 knots.

13. SINGLE OCCUPANT.

a. The Rationale for Allowing Single Occupant Operations Only, One aspect of the rationale for allowing ultralight vehicles to operate under special rules which do not require pilot and aircraft certification is the single-occupant limitation. The assumption is made that a person who elects to operate an uncertificated vehicle alone is aware of the risks involved. This assumption does not necessarily hold true for a passenger. Because the pilot qualifications for ultralight vehicle operations are not Federally controlled or monitored, the single-occupant requirement is a necessary component to the continuation of the policies and regulations which allow the operation of ultralight vehicles free from many of the restrictions imposed on the operation of certificated aircraft.

b. Guidelines Regarding Seating Arrangements Which Should be Considered when Purchasing or Operating an Ultralight Vehicle.

(1) Any provisions for more than one occupant automatically disqualify an ultralight for operations under Part 103.

(2) Some powered ultralights were originally manufactured with bench or “love” seats with only one seatbelt, but have been advertised as two-place in the ultralight periodicals. They are not eligible for operations under Part 103. While no maximum width standards for the size of a “single” seat have been established at this time, most manufacturers are providing seats which have a
width of 18 to 22 inches. Any seat notably wider than 22 inches raises a question as to whether the ultralight is intended for single occupancy.

(3) An ultralight with provisions for more than one occupant can only be operated as a certificated aircraft, even when occupied by only one person, In addition to the previously stated aircraft certification and registration requirements, the pilot must hold a medical certificate and at least a student pilot certificate with the proper endorsements for solo operations. At least one occupant during two-occupant operations must hold at least a private pilot certificate.

c. Two-place Ultralight Operations under Part 103, The AOPA Air Safety Foundation, Experimental Aircraft Association, and the United States Hang Gliding Association have been granted exemptions from the applicable aircraft regulations to authorize use of two-place ultralights under Part 103 for limited training purposes and for certain hang glider operations, Except as authorized by exemption, no person may operate an ultralight under Part 103 with more than one occupant.

14. RECREATION AND SPORT PURPOSES ONLY (103.1(b)).

a. The Rationale for Only Allowing Recreation and Sport Operations Under Part 103. In combination with the single-occupant requirement, the limitation to recreation and sport operations only is the basis for allowing ultralight vehicle operations under minimum regulations. The reason for allowing the operation of these vehicles without requiring aircraft and pilot certification is that this activity is a “sport” generally conducted away from concentrations of population and aircraft operations.

b. Determining Whether a Particular Operation is for Recreation and Sport Purposes. There are several considerations that are necessary in determining whether a given operation is conducted for recreation or sport purposes:

(1) Is the flight undertaken to accomplish some task, such as patrolling a fence line or advertising a product? If so, Part 103 is not
applicable.

(2) Is the ultralight equipped with attachments or modifications for the accomplishment of some task, such as banner towing or agricultural spraying? If so, Part 103 does not apply,

(3) Is the pilot advertising his/her services to perform any task using an ultralight? If so, Part 103 does not apply,

(4) Is the pilot receiving any form of compensation for the performance of a task using an ultralight vehicle? If so, Part 103 does not apply,

c. Examples of Operations Which are Clearly Not for Sport or Recreational Purposes.

(1) Aerial Advertising, Part 103 does not apply to operations that include the towing of banners and the use of loudspeakers, programmed light chains, sake writing, dropping leaflets, and advertising on wings; nor does it apply to the use of interchangeable parts with different business advertisements or flying specific patterns to achieve maximum public visibility.

(2) Aerial Application, Part 103 does not apply to operations that include using an ultralight to perform aerial application of any substance intended for plant nourishment, soil treatment, propagation of plant life or pest control, An ultralight with an experimental certificate as an amateur aircraft could be used to perform this function under specific, limited circumstances.
Paragraph 35b provides more detail on this subject,

(3) Aerial Surveying and Patrolling. Patrolling powerlines, waterways, highways, suburbs, etc., does not come under Part 103. The conduct of these activities in an ultralight must be in compliance with applicable aircraft regulations as outlined in paragraph 34. Local, state, or Federal government entities may operate an ultralight as a “public aircraft.” This is discussed in greater detail in paragraph 35a.

(4) Carrying parcels for hire.

d. Examples of Situations Involving Money or Some Other Form of Compensation Allowable Under the Recreation and Sport Limitation.

(1) Rental of Ultralight Vehicles. Renting an ultralight vehicle to another person is permissible.

(2) Receiving a Purse or Prize. Persons participating in sport or competitive events involving the use of ultralights are not prohibited from receiving money or some other form of compensation in recognition of their performance.

(3) Authoring Books About Ultralights. Persons are not prohibited from flying ultralights and then authoring books about their experiences, for which they ultimately receive compensation.

(4) Receiving Discount on Purchase of an Ultralight. There is no prohibition which would prevent you from taking advantage of any discount on the price of an ultralight a company might offer where its logo or name appears on a portion of the vehicle. You cannot, however, enter into any agreement which might specify the location; number, or, pattern of flights contingent on the receipt of that discount. Any operation under such an agreement could not be conducted under Part 103.

(5) Participation in Airshows and Events. You may participate in airshows and other special events where persons are charged for viewing those events, so long as you receive no compensation for your participation. This does not hold true where you stand to benefit directly from the proceeds as the organizer or producer of the event.

15. AIRWORTHINESS CERTIFICATE (103.1(c).

a. If your ultralight has been issued an airworthiness certificate. YOU cannot operate it as an ultralight vehicle under Part 103, An ultralight cannot be operated interchangeably as a certificated aircraft and an ultralight vehicle.

b, If you want to operate your ultralight under Part 103, you must turn in, to the issuing authority, any airworthiness certificates currently issued for the craft.

c. You may operate an ultralight as a certificated aircraft if you obtain the proper certification, If you do not already hold an airworthiness certificate, you should consult paragraph 31 for further guidance.

d. An ultralight is eligible for operation under Part 103, even where the same make and model is also being issued airworthiness certificates, so long as a all elements of the definition of an ultralight vehicle contained in 103.1 are satisfied. As an example, assume that there is a model which would meet the definition of an ultralight vehicle being manufactured in Canada and is issued a Canadian airworthiness certificate. If you purchased one, you would have to turn in the airworthiness certificate to the Canadian authorities before operating it in the United States under Part 103.

16. UNPOWERED ULTRALIGHT VEHICLES.

a. Unpowered Ultralight Vehicles Eligible for Operation Under Part 103, All forms of gliders and free balloons weighing less than 155 pounds and meeting all other requirements of 103.1 are eligible for operation under Part 103.

b. Unpowered ultralights eligible for operations under Part 103 are not required to be operated under that Part. In some cases, you can obtain certification of your glider or free balloon as an experimental aircraft.

c. Computing the Empty Weight of an Unpowered Ultralight Vehicle.

(1) Gliders. The fuselage, wings,, structure, control surfaces, harnesses, and landing gear, etc., are included in this determination, Parachutes and all personal operating equipment and harnesses associated with their use are not included.

(2) Free Balloons. The envelope, lines, harnesses, gondola, burner, and fuel tank are included in this determination. Parachutes and all personal operating equipment and harnesses associated with their use are not included. The weight of the fuel, in the case of a not-air balloon, or any logical amount of removable ballast, when intended for control of the buoyancy of a gas balloon, is not included in the weight specified 103.1(d).

d. Free Balloons are Considered “Unpowered.” A balloon, for Part 103 eligibility, is considered an unpowered ultralight, regardless of whether it drops ballast to ascend or uses heated air. The burner on a hot-air balloon is use(] to raise the temperature of the air in the envelope allowing the balloon to rise. This can he compared to the glider’s use of lifting air as a means of ascending. In both cases, no method of Horizontal propulsion is employed and a loss Of the lifting -force will cause the vehicle to descend to the surface.

17. POWERED ULTRALIGHT VEHICLES.

a. “Powered” Ultralights Eligible For Operation Under Part 103, All ultralights with a means of horizontal propulsion which also meet the provisions of 103.1 are eligible; this includes ultralight airships, helicopters, gyrocopters, and airplanes.

b. A powered ultralights eligible for operation under Part 103 is not required to be operated under that Part. You may elect to certificate and operate it as an experimental aircraft The applicable procedures and regulations are explained in Advisory Circular 20-27C, Certification and Operation of Amateur-Built Aircraft.

18. POWERED VEHICLE WEIGHT.

a. Items Excluded From the Computation of the Empty Weight of a Powered Ultralight Vehicle.

( 1) Safety Devices Which are Intended for Deployment in a Potentially Catastrophic Situation. Parachutes and some associated additional equipment necessary for their operation meet this criteria. Other devices, such as seatbelts, roll cages, instruments, or wheel brakes, are considered part of the airframe and are included in the empty weight.

(i) Up to 24 pounds of weight associated with the parachute system may be excluded by the FAA without requiring a separate weighing of the system components.

(ii) No weight allowance will be given for any component of the parachute system if, when it was operated, the parachute was not carried and attached to the ultralight at the reinforced points/fittings provided.

(2) Floats Used For Landings On Water. Only the weight of the floats and any integral, external attachment points are excluded. All other items associated with attachment of the floats to the airframe are included in the vehicle’s empty weight. Up to 30 pounds per float may be excluded by the FAA without requiring substantiation of the float’s actual weight. This exclusion was allowed under the rationale that float-equipped ultralights would not usually be operated in the vicinity of airports and large concentrations of people and, thus, would be even less of a safety hazard than those which had conventional landing gear. While amphibious capability would appear to negate somewhat that rationale, some allowance for the “float” capability is made.

(i) Amphibious Floats. up to 30 pounds per float may be excluded by the FAA. The weight of all attached items associated with the installation and operation of the landing gear is included in the calculation of the dry, empty weight specified in 5 103.1(e)(1). Satisfactory evidence of the weight of those components must be available.

(ii) Amphibious Fuselage. Where the fuselage is intended to function as a float during water landings, up to 30 pounds (tile average weight of a single float) is allowed by the FAA to be excluded from the empty weight where the ultralight is capable of repeated water takeoffs and landings. (Operators may be required to demonstrate the water operational capability of their vehicle
in order to receive an allowance for the added weight.) Up to 10 pounds per outrigger float and pylon is also allowed by the FAA.

(iii) “Float” provisions not discussed here should be reviewed with FAA personnel at a Flight Standards field office.

b. Acceptable Methods for Determining the Weight of an Ultralight. The completely assembled ultralight should be taken to a draftless location and placed on:

(1) A Single Scale. A determination may be made on a calibrated scale which has sufficient weighing surface to accommodate the ultralight resting fully on that surface without any stabilizing assistance, or

(2) Two or More Scales. A determination may be made on two or more calibrated scales if they are located at all Points where the ultralight contacts the surface when parked and it is resting fully on those scales without any stabilizing assistance. In this case, the sum of the scales will be used.

19. MAXIMUM FUEL CAPACITY OF A POWERED ULTRALIGHT VEHICLE, The maximum fuel capacity for a powered ultralight vehicle is 5 U.S. gallons. Any powered ultralight with fuel tank(s) exceeding this capacity is ineligible for operation as an ultralight vehicle,

a. Determination of Fuel Capacity. The total volume, including all available space for usable and unusable fuel in the fuel tank or tanks on the vehicle is the total fuel capacity. The fuel in the lines, pump,, strainer,, and carburetor is not considered in a calculation of total volume.

b. Use of an Artificial Means to Control Capacity.

( 1) Tanks which have a permanent standpipe or venting arrangement to control capacity are permitted, but may be subject to demonstration of the capacity if there is any reason to doubt that the arrangement is effective.

(2) A temporary, detachable, or voluntarily-observed method for restricting fuel capacity, such as a “fill-to” line, is not acceptable.

20. MAXIMUM LEVEL FLIGHT SPEED OF A POWERED ULTRALIGHT VEHICLE. The maximum speed of an ultralight vehicle at full power in level flight cannot exceed 55 knots.

a. The 55 knots specified in S103,1(e)(3) is a performance limitation, not a speed limit, It is not a speed limit that a pilot has to observe. The vehicle, as configured (exposed drag areas, engine power output, and propeller efficiency), cannot be capable of driving through the air in level flight at full power faster than 55 knots. It is also not a structural never-exceed speed (Vne). The vehicle may well be structurally capable of higher airspeeds.

b. The use of “voluntarily observed” or arbitrarily specified maximum airspeeds, such as a red line on the airspeed indicator, is not acceptable where the ultralight is capable of more than 55 knots in level flight.

c. Acceptable Methods of Determining the Maximum Level Flight Airspeed of an Ultralight.

(1) A calculation, using the information in Appendix I , is an acceptable method for making this determination.

NOTE: The engine manufacturer’s maximum horsepower rating will be used for all computations associated with maximum level flight speeds (unless the operator can provide documentation from the engine manufacturer that a method of derating an engine will result in a predictable reduction in horsepower).

(2) A series of three or more full-Power level runs in both directions along a 1,000-foot course under specified conditions could be used by a recognized technical standards committee to make this determination. The average speed derived should be adjusted for atmospheric conditions other than sea level on a standard day.

NOTE: While these guidelines contain provisions allowing, flight testing to establish eligibility for operations under Part 103, the FAA has provided charts in Appendixes 1 and 2 which encompass most normal aircraft design factors without requiring flight testing. Any flight testing to establish eligibility for operations under Part 103 is done at the risk of the participants.

(3) A calibrated radar gun may also be used. Again, a series of full-power level runs as described in subparagraph c(2) could be used by a recognized technical standards committee to make this determination.

d. Use of an Artificial means to Limit the maximum Level Flight Airspeed.

(1) An artificial means of restricting the total power output of an engine in order to lower the maximum level flight speed at full power would be acceptable if the method used to restrict the power available is one which cannot be modified, bypassed, or overridden in flight and the pilot or operator can provide the FAA, on request, satisfactory evidence that the- vehicle meets the requirement of 103.1(e)(3).

NOTE: Vehicles which require artificial restrictions to power or propeller arrangements may incur a substantial penalty in terms of takeoff, climb, and absolute performance. This factor should L-e considered when assessing the safety of ultralight vehicle operations, especially at high altitude locations.

(2) As a general guideline, a method is unacceptable if it can be modified, bypassed, or overridden in any way while sitting in the pilot seat so as to further increase the power. There may be some ultralights which could be operated as ultralight vehicles if such restrictions are employed to meet the requirements of 103.1(e)(3). If you change or modify the restricting elements, your vehicle may be ineligible for use under Part 103.

(3) The use of voluntarily-observed restrictions, such as a lower power setting, instead of using all available power, is unacceptable.

e. Use of a Less Efficient Propeller/Shaft Arrangement. The use of a less efficient propeller/shaft arrangement to lower the level flight speed at full power is acceptable, if the operator or pilot can provide the FAA, on request, satisfactory evidence that the vehicle meets the requirements of 103.1(e)(3), If you change or modify that arrangement to increase the efficiency, your vehicle may be ineligible for use under Part 103.

f. Use of an Aerodynamic Restriction. The use of an aerodynamic restriction, such as a limiting device to pitch control travel on a canard arrangement, automatically deployed speed brakes, or a strut installed for drag purposes only, is acceptable, provided a recognized technical standards committee has evaluated the resulting maximum full-power level flight speeds at a pilot weight of 170 pounds and determined that the vehicle is not capable of maintaining level flight above 55 knots. (Again, modification of that arrangement my render the vehicle ineligible for use under Part 103.)

NOTE: Vehicles using aerodynamic restrictions to limit maximum speed may have undesirable flight characteristics when operated near the controllability limits.

21. MAXIMUM POWER-OFF STALL SPEED OF A POWERED ULTRALIGHT VEHICLE. The maximum power-off stall speed of an ultralight vehicle cannot exceed 24 knots (28 mph).

a. Acceptable Methods of Determining the Power-Off Stall Speed of an Ultralight Vehicle.

(1) A calculation, using the information provided in Appendix 2, is an acceptable method of providing satisfactory evidence that your vehicle meets this requirement.

NOTE: For the purpose of all stall speed calculations, the pilot’s weight will be considered to be 170 pounds and the fuel tank(s) filled (6 lbs./gal.).

(2) This speed can also be determined by a recognized technical standards committee which can take the average speed from a series of power-off stalls using existing flight test procedures.

b. Use of High-Lift Devices to Lower Stall Speed to 24 Knots. Slots, slats, flaps, and any other devices which would lower the stall speed are acceptable. A determination of the resulting average stall speed by a technical standards committee is acceptable evidence of compliance-.

22. DOCUMENTATION OF A TECHNICAL STANDARDS COMMITTEE’S. If an ultralight is found by a recognized technical standards committee to meet the requirements of 103.1 with respect to the items specified in paragraphs 18 through 21, the committee should issue a document confirming its findings. (See Appendix 4 for an example of this documentation.)

23. CONTENTS OF THE DOCUMENT. To be acceptable, the document will contain, as a minimum, the:

a. Name and address of the person requesting the determination.

b. Type/model and general description of the ultralight, including any installed equipment.

c. Empty weight of the ultralight, showing the allowances given for parachutes, floats, and fuel, and how it was determined.

d. Fuel capacity and how it was determined.

e. Maximum speed at full power in level flight and how it was determined, including, a description of any method incorporated to limit the power or thrust output or the ability of the vehicle to fly in level flight at more than 55 knots. (This description should allow an inspector reviewing the document to determine that the limiting devices are still operational.)

f. Maximum power-off stall speed and how it was determined, including a description of any lift devices used.

g. Typed or printed names of the committee members, their signatures, and the name of the organization which recognizes their committee.

24. CONTACTS WITH FAA INSPECTORS. Most ultralight operators will probably only encounter FAA field inspectors during accident, incident, or public complaint investigation. On initial contact, the inspector will usually ask for your pilot certificate and the aircraft airworthiness certificate. You should inform the inspector that you are operating your ultralight under Part 103 and provide evidence that it meets the applicability of 103.1.

a. Failure to Provide Satisfactory Evidence. If you cannot provide this evidence, or if the evidence provided is not satisfactory, your ultralight will be considered an aircraft subject to all applicable aircraft regulations and you will be subject to all requirements applicable to the operator. It is your responsibility to prove that your ultralight and any operations you may ‘nave conducted meet the applicability for operation-under Part 103. Until you do, the FAA will proceed with any enforcement investigation resulting from your inability to provide that proof.

b. “Satisfactory Evidence.”

(1) The use of the graphs provided in Appendixes I and 2 will be acceptable for determination of the maximum level flight speed and power-off stall speed if your ultralight has no special limitations to maximum speed or power and no special high-lift devices.

(2) An FAA-certificated aircraft mechanic or repair station may also weigh your ultralight and provide a weight document similar to that provided for aircraft, listing the components and attachments of the ultralight when Weighed. An FAA-certificated mechanic may also make the determinations in paragraphs 18 through 21 and issue the Documentation outlined in paragraph 23, provided that the maximum speeds were determined through the use of the graphs provided in Appendixes 1 and 2.

(3) A recognized technical standards committee’s findings documented as provided in paragraph 23 will usually be considered acceptable. A committee may issue their findings in relation to a given model of ultralight which are then included by the manufacturer in the sale of the ultralight. The subsequent operators of that model of ultralight may use those findings without having another inspection made, provided that there are no changes or modifications to the configuration, components, engine, or propeller arrangements of the basic model originally reviewed by the committee and any artificial means of restricting maximum airspeed is installed and operational.

c. FAA Ultralight inspection Authority. The FAA has the legal authority to inspect any ultralight, whether it is operated as an aircraft under Part 91 or as an ultralight vehicle under Part 103. In the case of an ultralight operated under Part 103, this authority will usually be exercised only when an inspector has reason to doubt the validity of the evidence provided by the operator or that the ultralight still conforms to the findings contained in that evidence.

(1) Refusal to Allow the Inspection. Refusal to allow the inspector to inspect the ultralight would be a violation of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, as amended, and the applicable FAR, and would result in enforcement action.

(2) Usual Content of the Inspection. The inspector may ask you to show compliance with 103.1 by measuring the capacity of the fuel tank. weighing the vehicle, measuring the wing,, stabilizing and control surface areas,, and showing that any artificial means required to restrict the maximum airspeed are installed, operational,, and cannot be bypassed. Further checks may be made in situations where the inspector has reason to doubt the effectiveness of any restriction to maximum airspeed.

25-29. RESERVED.

SECTION 2. HOW TO CERTIFICATE AND OPERATE AN ULTRALIGHT AS AN AIRCRAFT

30. SCOPE AND CONTENTS. This section outlines the regulations which are applicable to the operation of ultralights as certificated aircraft and provides general information regarding how to comply with the regulations.

31, AIRCRAFT CERTIFICATION, A person who chooses to operate an ultralight as a certificated aircraft has two options for airworthiness certification of the vehicle, depending primarily on the configuration of the vehicle or kit when purchased, as follows:

a, Completely Assembled at the Factory, or Assembled by the Purchaser From a “Bolt-Together” Kit With Little or No Fabrication Operations, An ultralight in this category would be eligible for airworthiness certification only for the purpose of exhibition in the experimental classification. Application for an experimental certificate for exhibition may be made to the nearest Flight Standards field office.

b. Major Portion (Over 50%) Fabricated by the Builder/Purchaser, Either from Raw materials to the Builder’s Own Design or From a Partially Prefabricated Kit. A vehicle shown to meet the provisions of this category would be eligible for airworthiness certification as an amateur-built aircraft,, in addition to eligibility for experimental exhibition. Detailed information pertaining to amateur-built aircraft requirements are in FAA Advisory Circular 20-27C,, Certification and Operation of Amateur-Built Aircraft, Applications for such certification may be made to the nearest Flight Standards field office.

32. REGISTRATION, An ultralight that is to be certificated and operated as an aircraft S Subject to the registration and marking requirements applicable to aircraft. The applicant should contact the nearest Flight Standards field office to obtain the required forms and information concerning the procedures to be followed. Advisory Circular 20-27C also contains information concerning registration arid marking requirements as they apply to amateur-built aircraft.

33. PART 61 (CERTIFICATION: PILOTS AND FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS), Part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations contains the regulations which define the certificates and ratings which pilots must hold to function as a pilot of a certificated aircraft in the United States, It also outlines the minimum experience levels and standards to qualify for those certificates and ratings. The minimum levels of pilot currency for certain operations are also contained in Part 61.

34. PART 91 (GENERAL OPERATING AND FLIGHT’ RULES), Part 91 contains the general operating rules (Subpart A), flight rules (Subpart B), and maintenance rules (Subpart C) which are applicable to all certificated aircraft operations, Pilots of certificated ultralight aircraft must comply with Part 91, No certificated aircraft can be operated under Part 103, The flight rules of Subpart B are the minimum standards for flight operations except where the operating limitations of the particular aircraft establish more stringent standards. The majority of the rules contained in Subpart A and Subpart C will not apply to operations of certificated ultralight aircraft; however, a thorough review of these regulations should be conducted to determine those applicable to a particular type of ultralight aircraft.

35. SPECIAL FLIGHT OPERATIONS. There are some special operations of ultralight aircraft that are all under present regulations.

a. “Public” Aircraft, An ultralight way be used exclusively in the service of a Federal, state,, or local government without an airworthiness certificate. (The pilots do not have to hold pilot certificates.)

(1) The ultralight must be properly registered with the FAA and display appropriate registration markings, and

(2) All operations must be conducted in accordance with the applicable operating and flight rules of Part 91.

b, Aerial Agricultural Application. A farmer owning an amateur-built experimentally certificated aircraft may use that aircraft for aerial agricultural applications over his/her own property, provided that,

(1) The ultralight is certificated as an amateur-built aircraft and does not have any operating limitations prohibiting agricultural operations;

(2) The pilot holds at least a private pilot certificate and successfully completes a knowledge and skill test as specified in 137.19(e); and

(3) The farmer holds at least a Private Agricultural Operator Certificate under Part 137 and all operations are conducted in accordance with that regulation.

Fortunately, Ultralight pilots need not worry about complying with most of this far more complicated regulation. There are, however, a few references in part 103 that require compliance with portions of part 91. They are mostly intended to keep us, along with other general aviation, away from sensitive airspace. Given new security concerns it is critical to have some understanding of these directives which popped into being after Sept, 11, 2001.

Note that the NOTAMs referred to in this regulation can be found by calling Flight Service at 1.800.WX-BRIEF.

§ 91.137   Temporary flight restrictions in the vicinity of disaster/hazard areas.

(a) The Administrator will issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) designating an area within which temporary flight restrictions apply and specifying the hazard or condition requiring their imposition, whenever he determines it is necessary in order to—

(1) Protect persons and property on the surface or in the air from a hazard associated with an incident on the surface;

(2) Provide a safe environment for the operation of disaster relief aircraft; or

(3) Prevent an unsafe congestion of sightseeing and other aircraft above an incident or event which may generate a high degree of public interest.

The Notice to Airmen will specify the hazard or condition that requires the imposition of temporary flight restrictions.

(b) When a NOTAM has been issued under paragraph (a)(1) of this section, no person may operate an aircraft within the designated area unless that aircraft is participating in the hazard relief activities and is being operated under the direction of the official in charge of on scene emergency response activities.

(c) When a NOTAM has been issued under paragraph (a)(2) of this section, no person may operate an aircraft within the designated area unless at least one of the following conditions are met:

(1) The aircraft is participating in hazard relief activities and is being operated under the direction of the official in charge of on scene emergency response activities.

(2) The aircraft is carrying law enforcement officials.

(3) The aircraft is operating under the ATC approved IFR flight plan.

(4) The operation is conducted directly to or from an airport within the area, or is necessitated by the impracticability of VFR flight above or around the area due to weather, or terrain; notification is given to the Flight Service Station (FSS) or ATC facility specified in the NOTAM to receive advisories concerning disaster relief aircraft operations; and the operation does not hamper or endanger relief activities and is not conducted for the purpose of observing the disaster.

(5) The aircraft is carrying properly accredited news representatives, and, prior to entering the area, a flight plan is filed with the appropriate FAA or ATC facility specified in the Notice to Airmen and the operation is conducted above the altitude used by the disaster relief aircraft, unless otherwise authorized by the official in charge of on scene emergency response activities.

(d) When a NOTAM has been issued under paragraph (a)(3) of this section, no person may operate an aircraft within the designated area unless at least one of the following conditions is met:

(1) The operation is conducted directly to or from an airport within the area, or is necessitated by the impracticability of VFR flight above or around the area due to weather or terrain, and the operation is not conducted for the purpose of observing the incident or event.

(2) The aircraft is operating under an ATC approved IFR flight plan.

(3) The aircraft is carrying incident or event personnel, or law enforcement officials.

(4) The aircraft is carrying properly accredited news representatives and, prior to entering that area, a flight plan is filed with the appropriate FSS or ATC facility specified in the NOTAM.

(e) Flight plans filed and notifications made with an FSS or ATC facility under this section shall include the following information:

(1) Aircraft identification, type and color.

(2) Radio communications frequencies to be used.

(3) Proposed times of entry of, and exit from, the designated area.

(4) Name of news media or organization and purpose of flight.

(5) Any other information requested by ATC.

§ 91.138   Temporary flight restrictions in national disaster areas in the State of Hawaii.

(a) When the Administrator has determined, pursuant to a request and justification provided by the Governor of the State of Hawaii, or the Governor’s designee, that an inhabited area within a declared national disaster area in the State of Hawaii is in need of protection for humanitarian reasons, the Administrator will issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) designating an area within which temporary flight restrictions apply. The Administrator will designate the extent and duration of the temporary flight restrictions necessary to provide for the protection of persons and property on the surface.

(b) When a NOTAM has been issued in accordance with this section, no person may operate an aircraft within the designated area unless at least one of the following conditions is met:

(1) That person has obtained authorization from the official in charge of associated emergency or disaster relief response activities, and is operating the aircraft under the conditions of that authorization.

(2) The aircraft is carrying law enforcement officials.

(3) The aircraft is carrying persons involved in an emergency or a legitimate scientific purpose.

(4) The aircraft is carrying properly accredited newspersons, and that prior to entering the area, a flight plan is filed with the appropriate FAA or ATC facility specified in the NOTAM and the operation is conducted in compliance with the conditions and restrictions established by the official in charge of on-scene emergency response activities.

(5) The aircraft is operating in accordance with an ATC clearance or instruction.

(c) A NOTAM issued under this section is effective for 90 days or until the national disaster area designation is terminated, whichever comes first, unless terminated by notice or extended by the Administrator at the request of the Governor of the State of Hawaii or the Governor’s designee.

§ 91.141   Flight restrictions in the proximity of the Presidential and other parties.

No person may operate an aircraft over or in the vicinity of any area to be visited or traveled by the President, the Vice President, or other public figures contrary to the restrictions established by the Administrator and published in a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).

§ 91.143   Flight limitation in the proximity of space flight operations.

No person may operate any aircraft of U.S. registry, or pilot any aircraft under the authority of an airman certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration within areas designated in a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for space flight operations except when authorized by ATC, or operated under the control of the Department of Defense Manager for Space Transportation System Contingency Support Operations.

§ 91.145   Management of aircraft operations in the vicinity of aerial demonstrations and major sporting events.

(a) The FAA will issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) designating an area of airspace in which a temporary flight restriction applies when it determines that a temporary flight restriction is necessary to protect persons or property on the surface or in the air, to maintain air safety and efficiency, or to prevent the unsafe congestion of aircraft in the vicinity of an aerial demonstration or major sporting event. These demonstrations and events may include:

(1) United States Naval Flight Demonstration Team (Blue Angels);

(2) United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron (Thunderbirds);

(3) United States Army Parachute Team (Golden Knights);

(4) Summer/Winter Olympic Games;

(5) Annual Tournament of Roses Football Game;

(6) World Cup Soccer;

(7) Major League Baseball All-Star Game;

(8) World Series;

(9) Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta;

(10) Sandia Classic Hang Gliding Competition;

(11) Indianapolis 500 Mile Race;

(12) Any other aerial demonstration or sporting event the FAA determines to need a temporary flight restriction in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) In deciding whether a temporary flight restriction is necessary for an aerial demonstration or major sporting event not listed in paragraph (a) of this section, the FAA considers the following factors:

(1) Area where the event will be held.

(2) Effect flight restrictions will have on known aircraft operations.

(3) Any existing ATC airspace traffic management restrictions.

(4) Estimated duration of the event.

(5) Degree of public interest.

(6) Number of spectators.

(7) Provisions for spectator safety.

(8) Number and types of participating aircraft.

(9) Use of mixed high and low performance aircraft.

(10) Impact on non-participating aircraft.

(11) Weather minimums.

(12) Emergency procedures that will be in effect.

(c) A NOTAM issued under this section will state the name of the aerial demonstration or sporting event and specify the effective dates and times, the geographic features or coordinates, and any other restrictions or procedures governing flight operations in the designated airspace.

(d) When a NOTAM has been issued in accordance with this section, no person may operate an aircraft or device, or engage in any activity within the designated airspace area, except in accordance with the authorizations, terms, and conditions of the temporary flight restriction published in the NOTAM, unless otherwise authorized by:

(1) Air traffic control; or

(2) A Flight Standards Certificate of Waiver or Authorization issued for the demonstration or event.

(e) For the purpose of this section:

(1) Flight restricted airspace area for an aerial demonstration—The amount of airspace needed to protect persons and property on the surface or in the air, to maintain air safety and efficiency, or to prevent the unsafe congestion of aircraft will vary depending on the aerial demonstration and the factors listed in paragraph (b) of this section. The restricted airspace area will normally be limited to a 5 nautical mile radius from the center of the demonstration and an altitude 17000 mean sea level (for high performance aircraft) or 13000 feet above the surface (for certain parachute operations), but will be no greater than the minimum airspace necessary for the management of aircraft operations in the vicinity of the specified area.

(2) Flight restricted area for a major sporting event—The amount of airspace needed to protect persons and property on the surface or in the air, to maintain air safety and efficiency, or to prevent the unsafe congestion of aircraft will vary depending on the size of the event and the factors listed in paragraph (b) of this section. The restricted airspace will normally be limited to a 3 nautical mile radius from the center of the event and 2500 feet above the surface but will not be greater than the minimum airspace necessary for the management of aircraft operations in the vicinity of the specified area.

(f) A NOTAM issued under this section will be issued at least 30 days in advance of an aerial demonstration or a major sporting event, unless the FAA finds good cause for a shorter period and explains this in the NOTAM.

(g) When warranted, the FAA Administrator may exclude the following flights from the provisions of this section:

(1) Essential military.

(2) Medical and rescue.

(3) Presidential and Vice Presidential.

(4) Visiting heads of state.

(5) Law enforcement and security.

(6) Public health and welfare.

Sport Pilot & Powered Paragliding

We get this question a lot: Do powered paragliders fall under sport pilot? What about the tandem exemption? Here are some answers to these questions along with interpretation of rules that are being defined. We currently have a tandem exemption that allows for tandem flights by tandem rated pilots and for instructional purposes.


What is NOT included in Sport Pilot
Nov 27, 2006, Revised Feb 1, 2008 | FAA contents and links current as of this date

Single-place powered paragliders do not fall under Sport Pilot. As long as the unit qualifies as an ultralight, which any solo PPG does easily, it’s FAR 103 legal. Same with solo wheeled units as long as they meet Part 103 requirements.

Two-place foot-launched powered paragliders are also not part of Sport Pilot (SP) and can only be flown under an exemption (which the USPPA currently has). A foot launched tandem clearly has no “fuselage” nor are there any landing gear. So it clearly doesn’t meet the definition of a powered parachute (see below) and is therefore excluded from SP.

For two-place wheel-launched operations, things get more complex. It’s safe to say that any craft having a frame onto which the motor and wing mounts qualifies as a Powered Parachute under SP. But what about those craft where the pilot uses the paramotor harness and a cart attachment? Does sport pilot include them?

Here’s the FAA’s definition of a Powered Parachute:

A “Powered parachute means a powered aircraft comprised of a flexible or semi-rigid wing connected to a fuselage so that the wing is not in position for flight until the aircraft is in motion. The fuselage of a powered parachute contains the aircraft engine, a seat for each occupant and is attached to the aircraft’s landing gear.”

Many of the existing units do have a frame with their own seats. These fall under SP. But those where the pilot sits in the paramotor’s own seat using a harness would seem NOT to fall under sport pilot. Or if the wing attaches to the harness rather than a frame. Also, if the wheels are not integral to the craft it further distances itself from sport pilot. The original sport pilot issuance on July 27, 2004 explained:

“As stated in the proposed rule, the FAA specifically intended to exclude from consideration as light sport aircraft configurations in which the engine and/or wing is mounted on the person operating the aircraft, rather than a fuselage.”

Q&A

Q: I have a tandem powered paraglider trike. How do I fly it legally?

A: You must have a USPPA Tandem rating in order for the FAA tandem exemption to apply. Then, the flight must be for instructional purposes and cannot be for recreational flights.

Q: I don’t want to instruct or become an instructor. Is there another way?

A: Yes, you can get a machine certified as a Light Sport Aircraft and earn the FAA Sport Pilot License. We are not involved in that process and suggest you contact the USUA for more information.

Q: I want to instruct with my Tandem Trike, what do I have to do?

A: You can go through the USPPA Instructor then Tandem program. It takes significant experience to do this as you must first be a skilled pilot with demonstrated skills. More information is available on the ratings page. Any USPPA Instructor Administrator can help you with this process. Search the directory to find an Instructor Administrator near you.

Telling the Difference between PPC and PPG
Nov 27, 2006, Revised Feb 3, 2008

When wheels are added it isn’t black and white, it’s shades of gray where black is “Powered Parachute” and white is ” Powered Paraglider”. If it is a bona-fide powered paraglider, then we want our instructors to be able to teach tandem. It is a valuable tool and that is why we've worked hard to obtain the exemption.

Here are some things that make a 2-place unit more like a powered paraglider than a powered parachute.

1. (reg) The paramotor used has it’s own harness which is used even in tandem operations.

2. (reg) The wing is attached to the harness, not the frame.

3. If the frame failed in any way, the wing would continue to support the weight of the occupants and motor through the harness. This means that any rigid portions are acting as a spreader bar (like a foot launched tandem).

4. The paramotor is commonly flown in foot-launched operations and, whether solo or tandem, uses the same pilot harness.

5. The paramotor/harness easily comes off of the wheeled portion and can then be flown as a foot-launched unit.

Other criteria could be added to help ensure it remains only powered paragliders. The current cart attachments for tandems can easily weigh less than 50 pounds. The current heaviest foot-launched motors, without fuel, weigh about 80 pounds. So a weight limit of 130 pounds easily limit the potential growth. A reserve parachute of the size used for tandem foot launchers weighs up to 10 pounds. So even with that a maximum weight of 140 pounds would cover it.

Also, other definitions could insure that only powered paragliders are included. Such as:

1. The craft must be foot launchable by an average sized pilot in a wind less than 5 mph on level terrain with only the cart unit removed.

2. The cart must not be integral to the use of the paramotor.

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