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Ed Cesnalis

Light Sport 10,000' Altitude restriction with exception

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We now have the 2,000' exception to make things workable.

I have never seen a reasonable comment on how to interpret the 2,000' AGL exception. 

Can someone offer an interpretation?  2,000' strait down only would be really dumb and no-one follows that so what is a fair interpretation that you would be comfortable defending?

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When I ask the FAA they said  the 2K rule was for anything within your immediate flight area. So that means there is plenty of leway and is not a straight down number.

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42 minutes ago, Stillflying said:

I use the FAA Sectional Chart grid maximum elevation figures plus 2000’.

That is the most liberal interpretation I've heard so far.  

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1 hour ago, Roger Lee said:

When I ask the FAA they said  the 2K rule was for anything within your immediate flight area. So that means there is plenty of leway and is not a straight down number.

That leaves lots of room for argument.

Thinking out loud: I want to see the hut on top of Mt Whitney from 14,850'MSL.  at 200fpm and 90kt gs I need to bust 10,000' 20 miles out where I'll be 6,000' AGL already.  Is that my immediate flight area? or Do I need to arrive first and then climb?

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The fact is that unless you get tracked on radar in the flight levels, or have an accident or ATC interaction linked to hypoxia, it will never come up with The FAA.  There are no SkyCops waiting to pull you over, and nobody watching you on radar has any idea what the pilot’s ratings are.

Any reasonable interpretation of this rule is likely fine.  I use the rule of 2000ft over “any terrain that I can see and might have to climb over”.  If I am in a 6000ft elevation valley with mountains to 10500ft on both sides, I can easily defend flying at 12500ft.  If I’m in a relatively flat area at 6000ft and there is a lone peak to 10500ft in the hazy distance, it becomes more difficult to justify.

What’s silly about the rule is FAA logic.  It’s not safe for a Sport Pilot to fly over terrain 10,500ft or 12,500ft below where options are plentiful, but it’s okay for him/her to fly at the same altitude over terrain just 2000ft below where the risk is much higher.  Like night flight, I think it would be better to have endorsements or even a “Sport Plus” rating requiring additional training and allowing night and higher altitude flights.  But that is probably dreaming...

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26 minutes ago, FlyingMonkey said:

The fact is that unless you get tracked on radar in the flight levels, or have an accident or ATC interaction linked to hypoxia, it will never come up with The FAA.  There are no SkyCops waiting to pull you over, and nobody watching you on radar has any idea what the pilot’s ratings are.

Any reasonable interpretation of this rule is likely fine.  I use the rule of 2000ft over “any terrain that I can see and might have to climb over”.  If I am in a 6000ft elevation valley with mountains to 10500ft on both sides, I can easily defend flying at 12500ft.  If I’m in a relatively flat area at 6000ft and there is a lone peak to 10500ft in the hazy distance, it becomes more difficult to justify.

What’s silly about the rule is FAA logic.  It’s not safe for a Sport Pilot to fly over terrain 10,500ft or 12,500ft below where options are plentiful, but it’s okay for him/her to fly at the same altitude over terrain just 2000ft below where the risk is much higher.  Like night flight, I think it would be better to have endorsements or even a “Sport Plus” rating requiring additional training and allowing night and higher altitude flights.  But that is probably dreaming...

 

5 hours ago, Stillflying said:

I use the FAA Sectional Chart grid maximum elevation figures plus 2000’.

Both of your interpretations are liberal and that seems common when interpreting this rule's exception.  Where I have trouble with the liberal interpretation is the fact that the exception uses 'AGL' which has a precise meaning.  If the exception never meant AGL why did it use that datum?

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1 minute ago, Tom Baker said:

Ed, You are a private pilot flying using a drivers' license, correct?

 

For the moment yes, Its been over 10 years for me but I am healthy and med free so I'll likely get one more 3rd class.

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This is going to be most liberal yet. 61.23 allows you to exercise the privileges of a sport pilot certificate using a drivers' license, but it doesn't say you have to follow the limitations.

61.315 list those privileges, and also list limitations. It specifically says it applies to holders of a sport pilot certificate. You don't hold a sport pilot certificate. For some of the limitations it is generally accepted that they don't apply to holders of a private pilot certificate, ( Airspace and Speed endorsements), without any specific guidance how is one to determine if any of the limitations apply. So you have a regulation saying you can exercise the privileges, but no regulation saying you must follow sport pilot limitations. Of course private pilot limitations would still apply.

I am not sure I would want to test this out, but that is what I see in the regulations. Myself I hold a medical certificate, so it is not an issue.

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17 minutes ago, Tom Baker said:

This is going to be most liberal yet. 61.23 allows you to exercise the privileges of a sport pilot certificate using a drivers' license, but it doesn't say you have to follow the limitations.

61.315 list those privileges, and also list limitations. It specifically says it applies to holders of a sport pilot certificate. You don't hold a sport pilot certificate. For some of the limitations it is generally accepted that they don't apply to holders of a private pilot certificate, ( Airspace and Speed endorsements), without any specific guidance how is one to determine if any of the limitations apply. So you have a regulation saying you can exercise the privileges, but no regulation saying you must follow sport pilot limitations. Of course private pilot limitations would still apply.

I am not sure I would want to test this out, but that is what I see in the regulations. Myself I hold a medical certificate, so it is not an issue.

I appreciate you sharing this.  Its not the 'conventional wisdom' which sees the limitations married to the privileges but I think I agree with you.

I've always heard it said that when you  "exercise sport pilot privileges" the light sport rule applies, or you have to abide by the light sport rule but as you point out I am not violating the rule simply exercising privileges. 

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3 minutes ago, JohnnyBlackCT said:

I am a Commercial Pilot flying without an FAA issued medical.  Therefore, I follow the Sport Pilot privileges and limitations.  I would interpret the 10,000 MSL or 2,000 AGL, whichever is higher as 2,000 feet above the ground level along my flight path.  I don't interpret that as needing to climb and descend with every single peak and valley, but also wouldn't fly higher than 2,000 agl for extended periods of time.  If there are no more tall peaks ahead, I would descend to 2,000 agl after crossing the previous peak.  If there are more ahead, I would not descend, only to have to climb again in 10 or 15 minutes.

Thanks Johnny,

I used to be similar to you.  In CA I would have to decide if the Central Valley warranted descending.  

I'm now in agreement with Tom and living in Mammoth Lakes that makes a huge difference. 

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1 minute ago, JohnnyBlackCT said:

The exceptions Tom points out are listed as exceptions somewhere in the FAR's.  Personally, I would not "pick and choose" which Sport Pilot privileges and limitations I think I will follow today.  If it's not listed as an exception, the intent is you follow the Sport Pilot privileges and limitations.  That's why I don't fly at night or IFR or 4 place airplanes or multi-engine or etc. etc.

I would have to agree with you if you could be specific.  'somewhere in the FAR's' falls short, citing the far would not.

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12 minutes ago, JohnnyBlackCT said:

We have all read the FAR's and know that it's there.

Good then someone should be able to point it out in no time.

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1 hour ago, JohnnyBlackCT said:

I think it's 61.325 and 61.327.  You won't find any exceptions saying you can fly at night or IFR or without visual reference to the ground or above 10,000 MSL AND 2,500 AGL or a 4 place airplane or a twin-engine airplane.  The exceptions I am aware of are Vh above and below 87 knots, class B, C, and D airspace, and tailwheel endorsement.  If you don't agree, just keep doing what you're doing.  That's up to you.

You are always limited by your medical certificate.  I view flying on a driver's license as limiting you to Sport Pilot privileges and limitations.  Good luck in court if you decide to do otherwise.

What you are advocating is the reason for Basic Med.

61.325 and 61.327 only apply to sport pilots, and it is a way to remove those limitations for sport pilots.

Your medical determines what privileges you can exercise. Look at 61.23 for yourself. There is no mention of limitations, only privileges except for following the private pilot limitation 61.113, (i) for operating under basic med.

 Your pilot certificate determines your limitations.

You can't fly a 4 place airplane, IFR, multi engine because you can't exercise those privileges without a medical, not because it is a sport pilot limitation.

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I was wrong in my quick look at the regulations. The regulation that says you must follow the sport pilot limitations when operating with a drivers license is 61.303.

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Yup:

 

If you hold

(2) Only a U.S. driver's license

And you hold 

(ii) At least a recreational pilot certificate with a category and class rating,

Then you may operate 

(A) Any light-sport aircraft in that category and class,

And

(1) You do not have to hold any of the endorsements required by this subpart, but you must comply with the limitations in § 61.315 

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6 hours ago, FlyingMonkey said:

The fact is that unless you get tracked on radar in the flight levels, or have an accident or ATC interaction linked to hypoxia, it will never come up with The FAA.  There are no SkyCops waiting to pull you over, and nobody watching you on radar has any idea what the pilot’s ratings are.

<snip>Like night flight, I think it would be better to have endorsements or even a “Sport Plus” rating requiring additional training and allowing night and higher altitude flights.  But that is probably dreaming...

I wonder if this will change when ADS-B comes into play in 2020 (or now if so equipped?)  FAA will know it's a LSA over 10,000 foot altitude, but won't know who the pilot was.  But a check of the logbook will bear that out.  This has me concerned if overflying areas where minimum altitude is over 10,000 feet.

I would *LOVE* the ability o receive an additional endorsement for night flight and higher altitude flights.  But I to believe this might be nothing but a dream...

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9 hours ago, rtk said:

I wonder if this will change when ADS-B comes into play in 2020 (or now if so equipped?)  FAA will know it's a LSA over 10,000 foot altitude, but won't know who the pilot was.  But a check of the logbook will bear that out.  This has me concerned if overflying areas where minimum altitude is over 10,000 feet.

I would *LOVE* the ability o receive an additional endorsement for night flight and higher altitude flights.  But I to believe this might be nothing but a dream...

I would not worry too much about ADS-B.  The FAA has neither the resources nor the desire to go digging through every pilot's logbook for each flight and correlate those entries to ADS-B data.  Where this might come up, would be if a requirement comes about to file a flight plan for every flight.  Then it would be trivial for ATC to say "Hey, that airplane's on a flight plan filed by a Sport Pilot, what's he doing at 11,500ft?!?"

I don't know that such a flight plan requirement would ever come about, as it basically ends (or at least sucks the fun out of) the meandering, exploratory "around the patch" flights that many of us really enjoy.

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11 minutes ago, Ed Cesnalis said:

The exception remains poorly written.  It is based on AGL yet every pilot and even 'FAA' agree it doesn't mean AGL.   

What does it mean then?

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Hmm, AGL ... it seems clear enough to me.  In real life, my experience has been that ATC hasn't shown any interest in my altitude regulations while on flight following. At times on a ferry flight we were at 12,500 over the plains, because my safety pilot (Commercial) just liked to fly very high. And don't get me started on the Grand Canyon altitude restrictions, lol.

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