Light Sport IFR in VFR conditions- is it legal

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Rob Nelson, Dec 23, 2020.

  1. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Filing Flight Plan

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    I have been religated to fly Light Sport in Southern Alabama, not far from Pensacola.
    A "Part 93" area, which should help describe the level of flight activity. Prior to going to light sport, I held a private pilot license with an instrument rating.

    Here's the question?
    Can a current Private Pilot holding an IFR certificate flying as a Light sport pilot, flying a current, certified IFR light-sport aircraft file and fly legally in VFR conditions less than 10,000 feet without a medical certificate. IS IT LEGAL?

    Here's what I know
    1) To stay within LS requirements and fly without a medical, you must fly Day, VFR and not exceed 10,000 feet.
    2) To fly IFR, a pilot must be IFR current and hold at least a private pilot license ( no mention of having a medical).
    3) The aircraft being flown must be IFR certified and current.

    The purpose is simple: to be able to exercise my IFR privileges and be in the system in high-density air-traffic areas to help ensure separation, as well as Long "would be" VFR cross country.
    I have already spoken with a few LSA MFG that do have IFR certified aircraft. I would like some more "fact-checking "on my logic! Thanks
    .
     
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  2. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Is there anything that filing IFR would give you that flight following wouldn’t, if you are limited to day VFR? I don’t know the answer to your question, although my guess is that, since sport pilot privileges are limited to day VFR, you cannot operate under IFR while exercising sport pilot privileges. End of story.
     
  3. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Separation from other IFR traffic comes to mind.
     
  4. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Filing Flight Plan

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    Yes, unfortunately, out here when Pensacola or other ATC get to busy with military jet traffic they just drop you and have you squawk VFR. Usually at the most inopportune times.
    I use FF now as it is my only option. Looking to be in the system.
     
  5. rk911

    rk911 Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    but it sounds like he's exercising priv pilot privleges in a properly equipped and certifIED IFR airplane. if he has a current 3rd class medical or basic med and a valid PPL then the only limitation would be the airfcraft. maybe i'm misunderstanding the situation.
     
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  6. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    He said “prior to going light sport,” which I took to mean he is one of the many people who hold private pilot licenses but let their medical expire before BasicMed was a thing. I agree, if he can exercise private pilot privileges, he could file IFR in a properly-equipped light sport plane and remain in VMC. (Unless the LSA’s operating limitations allow IMC, which some probably do.)
     
  7. farmrjohn

    farmrjohn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Does the pilot also need to be IFR current to file IFR, even if in VMC conditions?
     
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  8. crash7

    crash7 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Correct.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  9. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Filing Flight Plan

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    looking at the regs, it seems to gray. The IFR privileges themselves do not seem to be tied to a medical. Hence, I can get current in any IFR aircraftw as non PIC with an instructor. Now I'm current IFR without medical. Flying as a sport pilot with a private pilot's license is legal without a Medical.
    If I have a plane that is Light Sport and it legal to fly IFR ( having IFR GPS, cert alt, etc..) as long as I don't operate outside light sport rules, I cant find where it would be illegal! VFR conditions filing IFR below 10,000 feet. I'm missing something?
     
  10. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    It's simple here in Canada — IMC or VMC is irrelevant. You have to be IFR certified in an IFR-legal aircraft and meet the IFR recency requirements to file IFR, period. (You also need to file a legal alternate, even in VMC.)

    I'll let the amateur air lawyers in the forum litigate the US regs. ;)
     
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  11. gacoon

    gacoon Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There is no FAR that prohibits a light sport pilot from filing and flying IFR. Pilot must be instrument rated and current. Aircraft must be equipped appropriately. Pilot must comply with all light sport restrictions, ie the 10K altitude limit the poster mentioned.
     
  12. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Filing Flight Plan

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    In order to get an IFR license you need a private pilot license or better and by default the reg states and FAA medical. Not sure if they are now allowing basic med to qualify for the IFR requirement since you now can get a private pilot license. In my case, it's a question of exercising the IFR privilege that I already have. Where is the FAR that says to operate under IFR rules you need to have a medical?
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2020
  13. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Filing Flight Plan

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    That's what I was hoping! Thanks. Look for others to agree or give reasons why it might not be.
     
  14. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    You can fly a light sport aircraft above 10k while exercising your private pilot privileges, which you would be doing if flying ifr. The light sport limitations are to the pilot, not the aircraft. They do not apply to a private pilot.
     
  15. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Filing Flight Plan

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    I agree, the tricky thing here is I am flying and exercising the privileges of a sport pilot (not a Private pilot) with a driver's license. So I am restricted to day time VFR and less then 10,000 feet.
     
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  16. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    You are using your private certificate for light sport privileges without a medical or basic med. To exercise your private pilot Certificate for IFR you must meet the medical requirements because there is not an IR rating for light sport.
    3) Must hold at least a third-class medical certificate—

    (i) When exercising the privileges of a private pilot certificate, recreational pilot certificate, or student pilot certificate, except when operating under the conditions and limitations set forth in §61.113(i);
     
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  17. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Filing Flight Plan

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    I am flying as a sport pilot, not a private pilot. My private pilot license allows me to operate as a sport pilot without a medical.
    From FAA : https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/medical_certification/sportpilots/response2/

    Sport Pilot Medical Certification Questions and Answers
    If I will only be exercising sport pilot privileges, do I need to renew an FAA medical certificate I now possess when it expires?

    Response by the Federal Air Surgeon
    You may use your current and valid U.S. driver's license to exercise sport pilot privileges; however, you must hold the required, valid FAA airman medical certificate if you wish to exercise private pilot (or higher) privileges.

    The IFR rating I believe is independent of pilot certification "Private/Commercial/ATP why not Sport" You are not required to take a separate check ride to get your IFR in each type of pilot certification? I can't find a regulation that says to exercise your existing IFR privileges you are required to be operating as a private pilot/commercial/ATP etc... To get an IFR rating initially it is true you need to be a private pilot or better. 61.65
    1) Hold at least a current private pilot certificate, or be concurrently applying for a private pilot certificate, with an airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift rating appropriate to the instrument rating sought;
     
  18. bluesky74656

    bluesky74656 Line Up and Wait

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    My thought is that VFR means VFR and IFR means IFR, regardless of whether it’s VMC or IMC.

    I think you’d have a lot of explaining to do if you filed IFR and got a vector that would put you in a cloud and had to respond “Unable, I’m not legal for IMC.”
     
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  19. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I asked AOPA about this once. They were basically clueless and said so. Their best guess was no IMC but said they had ho clear answer.

    Cheers
     
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  20. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    First off, there's no instrument rating on an ATP (it's implied in the base certificate). While you aren't required to take a separate checkride, the INSTRUMENT (AIRPLANE, ROTORCRAFT) RATING is still a rating on your PRIVATE or COMMERCIAL certificate. It isn't distinct from those certificates. An instrument rating doesn't exist on a sport pilot certificate (or recreational for that matter).

    Getting back to the original question, you do not generally get any relief from the IFR requirements when operating IFR just because you are in visual conditions. You MUST be rated, current, and the airplane must meet the requirements.

    The one EXCEPTION that exists is for training purposes only. That means you better have an instructor along. Your aircraft still must meet the IFR equipment rules and the pilot in command needs to be rated and current. The only thing it gets you out of is the aircraft certification limitation.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2020
  21. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    I believe this is simpler than we make it to be:

    is the aircraft IFR-legal?
    Correct equipment and inspection

    Is the pilot IFR-legal?
    Instrument rated, has BasicMed or better, and current

    if the answer to one or more of these questions is no, then you can’t.
     
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  22. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Sorry buddy. No medical or basic med, no IFR for you regardless if it is VMC. As you state, you are operating as a sport pilot. There is no sport pilot instrument rating. If you want to operate as a private pilot, go see a doc.
     
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  23. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I think the discussion I had with AOPA went along the lines of you have to fly under private pilot privileges to fly under IFR Rules which means you must have either Basic Med or Class III. But they were not sure. My vote is no IFR for sport pilot operations.

    Cheers
     
  24. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Even if it is determined that IFR in VMC is allowed under sport-pilot privileges, there are some issues that would make it impractical. 61.303 says that if you're operating a light-sport aircraft with only a driver's license, you must comply with the limitations in 61.315, which says that you have to maintain visual reference to the surface. So VMC over a solid cloud deck, for example, would not work.

    https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-i...2660892520c&mc=true&node=sp14.2.61.j&rgn=div6

    It also prohibits flight above 10,000 MSL or 2,000 AGL, whichever is higher, so the minimum instrument altitude where you're flying could be an issue. And it prohibits flight "Contrary to any operating limitation placed on the airworthiness certificate of the aircraft being flown," so it would have to be a light-sport aircraft that didn't prohibit IFR flight. There was a recent thread in which it was determined that only certain LSAs are legal for IFR:

    https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/community/threads/can-ifr-in-a-lsa-be-legal.129587/
     
  25. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Filing Flight Plan

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    If this was cut and dried I would not have brought it to the forum. We all know that a private pilot ( by definition needs a medical, basic med or third class or better). with an IFR-equipped plane and current IFR pilot, can fly IFR in VMC and IMC.
    So let's take out the plane issue and assume there is an IFR equipped LSA ready to go and ASTM approved or you use an ELSA that is IFR capable.
    The plane is go!
    That's brings the discussion to what's required to fly IFR from a pilot perspective? In prerequisite to getting an IFR license, it mentions that it is required to have a private pilot's license. 61.65 as a prerequesit to "getting your IFR rating"
    https://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgFar.nsf/FARSBySectLookup/61.65

    However, once you have an IFR rating, you now fall under 61.57 to use it.
    61.57 Recent flight experience: Pilot in command. https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/61.57
    Instruments requirement start at section c)

    I can't find where it refers to a specific license that you need to hold to act as pilot in command in IFR conditions.
    It does not say anywhere that you must be a private/commercial/sport or ATP in order to operate IFR. you do however need to meet currency requiements which also do not reference license type.
    If you have an IFR rating can you fly as any licensend pilot as long as you are IFR current operating IFR capable aircraft? 61.57 indicates yes you can.
     
  26. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    If you are flying as a sport pilot (which means you don’t have a medical or basic med, and that you are flying on your drivers license) you cannot fly IFR. You can only fly VFR, and in addition must remain in visual contact with ground.

    You cannot file an IFR flight plan.

    in addition, you can only fly in a plane that meets the definition of an LSA. It matters not if it is IFR certified or not.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2020
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  27. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    To exercise the privileges of a private pilot, including flying IFR, 61.23 requires either at least a class 3 medical or basicmed. Bottom line, IFR is an operation requiring a medical.

    the airplane is fine, as long as it is properly equipped. Theoretically you could fly in an ultralight as long as it was properly equipped.
     
  28. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

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    Well, no, ultralights fly under Part 103, not 91, and 103.21 says, "No person may operate an ultralight vehicle except by visual reference with the surface."
     
  29. Deelee

    Deelee Pattern Altitude

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    @bflynn @WDD and @Rgbeard summed it up pretty nicely. No medical on your private to which your rating is attached... no IFR (vmc or otherwise). No such thing as an IFR license or cert - it is a rating attached to a cert. if you don’t hold the cert (or the medical to make flying with the cert legal), transitively you don’t have the rating. And you can’t file or fly IFR.

    But op seems pretty intent on doing it anyway. Maybe reach out and ask the FSDO if you still think it is a gray area. Or file it don’t get caught with the pirate IFR.
     
  30. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Filing Flight Plan

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    @bflynn @WDD and @Rgbeard summed it up pretty nicely. No medical on your private to which your rating is attached... no IFR (vmc or otherwise). No such thing as an IFR license or cert - it is a rating attached to a cert. if you don’t hold the cert (or the medical to make flying with the cert legal), transitively you don’t have the rating. And you can’t file or fly IFR.

    Many are assuming that flying IFR is a private pilot privilege? what about IFR use as a commercial or ATP pilot certificate?. Deele summarised it well. IFR is a rating, not a license or cert! Please show me where in the FARS the requirements of flying IFR references "Private pilot" certificate type or any certificate needed. If I could find that, it would clearly be defined! It is clear to first get your IFR rating, you must have a Private pilot cert. However, once you have it, pilot requirements and the currency is governed by 61.57 Recent flight experience. No reference to certificate or Medical!

    As for violating Sport rules, There is no rule that says that you cant file IFR in VMC under 10,000 feet which would keep you legal as a sport pilot. Please don't confuse filing in an IFR system always being in IMC. This question is specific to flying in the IFR system in VMC primarily to guarantee handoffs unlike VFR flight following as well as minimizing calls for clearance into many airspaces and separation from other IFR traffic.
     
  31. Deelee

    Deelee Pattern Altitude

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    I don’t think anyone is assuming IFR is a private pilot privilege. Point is IR is attached to a cert. private. Commercial. ATP. Not sport. So if you don’t hold one of those certs (with the medical making it legal to exceed ice those privileges) you don’t have a legal IR. Again, call the fsdo and ask.

    Or let’s see how many pages of this thread we can fill up with people posting the same thing back to you. Or just roll the dice and fly pirate IFR. Just don’t get caught.
     
  32. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Cleared for Takeoff

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    Short answer: as a sport pilot, you cannot file an IFR flight or fly an aircraft on an IFR flight plan. This operation is unavailable to you as a sport pilot.

    Long answer: since you do possess a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating, this question comes down to whether you want to exercise private pilot privileges or sport pilot privileges. Sport pilot allows you to medically qualify simply by using a current and valid US driver's license. The minimum required medical certification required for exercising the privileges of ratings on a private pilot certificate (including an instrument rating) is either a 3rd class medical or BasicMed. This is the barrier that "prevents" sport pilots from any operation under IFR. 14 CFR 61.315 spells out additional stipulations such as the minimum required flight or surface visibility and the requirement to maintain visual reference to the surface, but despite being incompatible with instrument flying, they're essentially not relevant to the scenario since sport pilot are restricted from IFR operations.

    You could pursue a 3rd class medical (or BasicMed, if there's an avenue for you to do so), become current as a private pilot, regain instrument currency, and then conduct IFR operations as a private pilot.

    Additional notes: the LSA being capable and legal for IFR flight is irrelevant in this case because your lack of a 3rd class medical or BasicMed precludes you from IFR operations as a sport pilot.
     
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  33. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Some sensible-sounding plausibility arguments are being written in this thread that are not explicitly stated in the regulations. Earlier I pointed out the practical issues that 61.315 would create for an instrument-rated pilot attempting to operate IFR while operating under sport-pilot rules, but I haven't been able to find any regulation that unambiguously prohibits it below 10,000 MSL on a severe-clear day. The closest I've been able to find is the portion of 61.3(c)(2) that lists the exceptions to the medical-certificate requirement. The exception in subparagraphs (iv) and (v) say that you don't need a medical certificate if you're exercising sport-pilot privileges. If sport-pilot privileges exclude operating IFR, then the exception to the medical-certificate requirement doesn't apply.

    Sport-pilot privileges are defined in Subpart J of Part 61, which doesn't say that IFR is allowed, but it doesn't say that it isn't, either, other than the altitude and ground-reference requirements. So it's sort of implied, but usually the regulations specify what you can't do, not what you can do.

    I think the question simply didn't occur to the FAA when the sport-pilot regulations were being written. Otherwise they could have written "No person may act as pilot in command under IFR or in weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR flight while operating under Subpart J of this part."

    In the real world, I would just ask for radar advisories ("flight following").
     
  34. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Another angle on this
    • If you fly under an IFR Flight Plan, you are obligated to fly under IFR rules regardless if it is VMC or IMC. Even if you are cleared VFR on Top (which means you flew under IFR rules to get there) you have to follow both VFR AND still IFR rules.
    • You cannot fly under IFR rules if you are not IFR rated, let alone IFR current.
    • You are not / cannot be IFR rated nor IFR current if you fly under Sport Pilot
    • You cannot file nor fly under an IFR plan as a Sport Pilot.
    Think about it. A sport pilot (heck, any pilot) who is not current IFR (or maybe even trained IFR) can file a flight plan, and somehow magically know to and can proficiently fly a SID, which way to enter and how to fly a hold, knows when to and can fly a procedure turn, knows how to fly an approach, all the things you need to do when on an IFR flight plan?

    Edited: Tried to make it clearer
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2020
  35. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Cleared for Takeoff

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    Respectfully, it is explicit, after a fashion, the same way many other regulations are explicit -- by omission.

    You have to pull a thread to get there, but it's unambiguously clear.

    To act as PIC under IFR in the United States, a person must (at minimum, under Part 91):
    • possess a pilot certificate;
    • possess an instrument rating placed on that pilot certificate;
    • possess a valid 3rd class or better medical, or certify via BasicMed
    • Maintain applicable currency requirements to operate under IFR
    Certain pilot certificates do not allow for an instrument rating to be attached. These include student, recreational, and sport pilot certificates. The sport pilot certificate places additional restrictions on operations which include flight/surface visibility and flying without visual reference to the ground. It is not possible to operate under IFR if the pilot in command is doing so by exercising sport pilot privileges -- period, end of story.

    This particular scenario is a little more interesting simply because Mr. Nelson does posses a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating. So it is possible for him to operate under IFR, but only as a private pilot. That is where the medical certification issue becomes the primary focus because it is not possible to act as PIC under IFR as a private pilot without, at minimum, a 3rd class medical or BasicMed. Since he does not appear to have that level of medical certification for his flying activities he is, in his words, "relegated" to Sport Pilot, so now 14 CFR 61.315 applies. There is no need to exclude IFR operations in this regulation because there is no instrument rating which can be attached to a sport pilot certificate (or privileges). As a corollary example there is no "explicit regulation" prohibiting a private pilot from operating under IFR without an instrument rating -- we look elsewhere for those requirements because that operation requires an instrument rating.

    In my opinion it is beyond unlikely that the possibility of an instrument rated private pilot becoming a sport pilot wasn't considered in the rulemaking process. Sport pilot privileges are exactly what they indicate -- no more, no less.

    I'd call them "VFR Advisories" to be technically accurate but I'm sure ATC knows what you mean. :)
     
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  36. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    True.

    An instrument-rated private pilot whose medical has expired (like the OP) can fly under sport-pilot rules. I did this for the two years before BasicMed went into effect (although I did not and would not have filed and flown IFR).

    The pilot could maintain instrument currency by using an ATD.

    The OP is not a sport pilot, he is an instrument-rated private pilot exercising sport-pilot privileges.

    Since the OP is instrument rated, that would not be a problem if he maintained proficiency. The problem is whether it would be legal.
     
  37. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    "After a fashion" and "by omission" do not equal "explicit."

    Your opinion is plausible, is probably how the FAA sees it, and I think it would be unwise to try it, but I disagree that the regs are "unambiguously clear."

    I agree. What I doubt is that they considered the possibility that an instrument-rated private pilot might consider filing and flying IFR while exercising sport-pilot privileges, given the altitude and surface-reference requirements.

    That opinion is plausible, but in general there are many examples of things that are allowed because the regulations do not state that they are prohibited.

    Thanks. I couldn't remember which was the preferred term, and didn't bother to look it up. :)
     
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  38. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    Let's say, hypothetically, the regs aren't clear. What would you do when you're below low overcast and ATC says, "Climb and maintain 5,000 feet"?
     
  39. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If he still thinks it's a good idea, maybe he would only do it in severe clear weather. I don't know how common it would be to assign an altitude above 10,000 MSL to a light piston single in Alabama where's he's located. Whatever the altitude, if he couldn't comply he would have to say "unable," and ATC might want to know why. That could draw unwanted attention from the FAA, and my guess is that they would agree with Ryan.
     
  40. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    At this point, I think I'll just kick back and observe how many different ways someone thinks that a person not flying as a private pilot and thus without private pilot privileges can file and fly under IFR rules.

    And that somehow someone who once had a current private pilot license and was once instrument current is granted in perpetuity the privilege of flying under IFR rules, under an IFR flight plan, even though he can no longer fly as a private pilot.

    And that person is proficient in IFR flying even in VMC.

    And that somehow a person flying as a Sport Pilot can ever be instrument rated and instrument current.

    I sincerely wish you all the best. I am worried about someone doing this - regulations problems aside - because it is probably one of the more dangerous things I can think of.
     
    X3 Skier and NHWannabe like this.