UK Microlights

With effect from 1st April 2002, Article 129 of the Air Navigation Order 2000 defines a microlight aeroplane as follows:

“Microlight aeroplane means an aeroplane designed to carry not more than two persons which has:

(a) a maximum total weight authorised not exceeding:

(i)    300 kg for a single seat landplane, (or 390 kg for a single seat landplane for which an individual United Kingdom permit to fly or certificate of airworthiness was first in force prior to 1st January 2003),
(ii)   450 kg for a two seat landplane,
(iii)  330 kg for a single seat amphibian or floatplane, or
(iv)  495 kg for a two seat amphibian or floatplane, and

(b) either a wing loading at the maximum weight authorised not exceeding 25 kg per square metre or a stalling speed at the maximum weight authorised not exceeding 35 knots calibrated airspeed”

This means that, with effect from 1st April 2002, all UK-registered aeroplanes falling within this definition are microlight aeroplanes; (this includes all aircraft previously classified in the UK as microlight aeroplanes or Small Light Aeroplanes, (SLAs)). It should be noted that the definition excludes all rotorcraft.

EU Regulation 1592/2002 Annex II excludes microlight aircraft from the scope of the European Safety Agency (EASA) and these aircraft continue to be regulated by CAA. However, the description of a microlight aircraft under the EU Regulation does not include single seat aircraft with a MTWA above 300kg or aircraft which meet the wing loading limit included in the UK definition above.

As a result:

1) Single seat microlight aircraft with a MTWA above 300kg may not now be approved for the issue of a permit to fly. CAA is currently considering what action is required for single seat aircraft with a MTWA of between 300kg and 390kg approved before 1 January 2003.

2) Microlight aircraft approved since the start of EASA are required to meet the stall speed requirement of paragraph b) of the UK microlight definition above. Aircraft accepted prior to EASA on the basis of wing loading alone are considered to meet the stall speed requirement.

To fly a microlight aeroplane solo and unsupervised with or without a passenger you must be in possession of a

NPPL with a microlight rating

Obtaining the rating requires the following:

  • That you are at least 17 years of age.

  • That you are in possession of a valid medical 'Declaration of Fitness' which must be countersigned by your own doctor.

Going Solo

This is naturally the first question a prospective pilot asks because not only is it the fulfilment of an aim but the cost plays a large part in the sense that the more hours needed to satisfy the Examiner then the more will a pupil have to pay out.

Your mind should be very clear on this issue as although the law lays down minimums for achieving these aims, they are simply minimums and the actual time taken will vary very much according to each individual.

For example, microlight flying being less expensive than conventional flying, has brought back many people who flew years ago, perhaps during the war. Although any previous licence may now be invalid, the basic skills will still be there (like riding a bike).

Another group of persons who very quickly progress is the skilled radio control modeller who has developed the sensitivity and know-how commensurate with flying an aeroplane.

These two groups are more likely to reach solo and licence stage before the newcomer so do not necessarily make a judgement of your own ability or a budget of your costings on the laid down minima, it could lead to disappointment.

The important point is to understand that you will go solo or achieve your licence when you are safe and competent to do so. Your life and the lives of your future passengers depend on this philosophy and cannot be measured in hours flown.

Becoming an Instructor

Instructing can be a very rewarding job provided that you have the right mental attitude. In the light aviation world an instructor must hold a Basic Commercial Pilots Licence and many instructors do the job as an 'hours- building' operation towards obtaining their Commercial Pilots Licence and thence on to obtaining an Air Transport Pilots Licence in order to fly air liners.

At present there is no form of Commercial Microlight Pilots Licence basic or otherwise so microlight instructors do the job because it is their chosen way of life, in spite of the vagaries of the UK weather precluding their chances of ever making a fortune !.

There are two main instructor ratings. They are Assistant Flying Instructor (AFI) and Flying Instructor (FI). The latter category is often referred to as QFI (Qualified Flying Instructor) although this is not an official term.

To be considered for these two ratings you must satisfy the following conditions.

AFI

  • Have held a PPL Group A or Microlight for a minimum period of 8 months, but must hold a PPL Microlights without operational limitations before starting the AFI course.
  • Have a minimum of 100 hours as Pilot in Command (PIC) including at least 5 hours PIC on the type of aeroplane to be used on your AFI Course.
  • Pass a pre-entry written examination and Flight Test conducted by a Microlight Flying Instructor Examiner (FIE) or a Flying Instructor Course Instructor (FIC) within the 6 months immediately preceding the date of commencement of the course.
  • Attend an approved course comprising no less than 40 hours ground and 15 hours flight training under an FIC n Instructor at a recognised FIC School A pass is also required in a theory and flying teaching aptitude test with a Microlight Examiner of Instructors.

FI

  • Have gained not less than 250 hours experience as PIC of aeroplanes, gliders or hang gliders of which at least 200 hours must be on microlights.
  • Have held an AFI Rating valid for microlights for at least 12 months and have 100 hours experience instructing on microlight aeroplanes.
  • Have passed a Ground and Flight Test conducted by an FIE (Microlight) In both cases there are concessions for those who have experience and/or current qualifications in other forms of flying.

These are obtainable on application as they can vary considerably according to the individual concerned.

Normally a club or school giving tuition will have a Chief Flying Instructor. This is not a rating but an appointment by the centre concerned and does not signify any special qualification to the appointee over and above the instructor rating issued by the CAA.