pilot training - Learning to fly in a Sub-70Kg aircraft - the BMAA way

At the BMAA we often get asked for clarification on new aviation regulations. The most common questions at the moment are “Do I need a Licence to fly the new Sub 70Kg Microlights?” and “Do I need to take training?”

Sub 70Kg Microlights. Strictly speaking these aircraft are termed Self-Propelled Hang Gliders (SPHG)!  In April 2017 the CAA issued an exemption allowing Self-Propelled Hang Gliders to be fitted with wheels. Prior to this point all take-offs had to be by foot, hence footlaunched aircraft. These wheeled SPHG aircraft are defined as follows:

·         an aircraft comprising of an aerofoil wing and a mechanical propulsion device which a) has a stall speed or minimum steady flight speed in the landing configuration not exceeding 20 knots calibrated airspeed; and b) has a maximum unladen mass, including full fuel, of 70 kg, or 75 kg if the aircraft is equipped with an emergency parachute recovery system.

·         The specified condition is that the aircraft must not fly with more than one person on board.

These aircraft are exempt from registration and also the pilot does not require a pilot’s licence to fly them (question 1). Although you do not require a licence you will obviously need some training to enable you to fly the aircraft SAFELY and properly and the BMAA strongly advises that you take this training with an experienced instructor, not just your mate who “does a bit of flying” (question 2).

To provide a safe training option the BMAA has a training package that suits this type of aircraft and which also has the bonus that it allows you to progress through to ultimately gaining an NPPL (M) if you wish to do so in the future.

The BMAA is in unique position to administer the training because

·         it has a proven Syllabus appropriate to the aircraft type;

·         the BMAA has a network of CAA approved instructors totally familiar with the syllabus and able to carry out the training;

·         dual training, agreed by all to be an invaluable part of your training, can only take place in an approved Microlight.

This syllabus will be in accordance with the current NPPL (M) pilots Licence with operational limitations and can be viewed on the BMAA website (www.bmaa.org) at: https://www.bmaa.org/files/liac_nppl_microlight_rating_syllabus_2011.pdf

The flight training syllabus includes:

·         dual flying with a CAA qualified instructor

·         solo flying under supervision of a CAA qualified instructor in Self-Propelled Hang Glider

The ground training will be completed by taking the NPPL(M) examinations in Air Law, Aircraft Technical, Meteorology, Navigation and Human Factors.

As with all training everyone is different and the hours needed to fly the aircraft safely will vary from person to person. It is quite reasonable however to expect that someone with Hang Glider experience would be able to safely fly the aircraft in the hours included.

At the end of the training a BMAA certificate will be awarded for successful completion of the ground exams and completion of the flying activities as proof of training.

Of course, if the student wishes, they could also complete the training by taking a General Skills Test (GST), conducted by a microlight flight examiner, and they could then gain an NPPL (M) licence with operational limitations.  Additionally, after successfully completing another 10 hours of flying (which could be done solo under supervision) the licence holder could then take passengers in a two-seat microlight.

With the addition of the NPPL (M) Navigation requirements, which might be flown as part of the basic training and solo consolidation, the licence could be upgraded to a full unrestricted NPPL(M).

The BMAA sees that a great benefit of this route through training is that the student can choose just do the initial training if they want to but, because it is taken with qualified microlight instructors, they could at any time continue with further training and ultimately end up with a full licence and the ability to take passengers. This has the further benefit that it can be used as credit towards other licences such as the NPPL (SSEA) which allows you to fly light aircraft.

 Rob Grimwood

BMAA Training Committee Chairman