Exemption 4274


NOTE from Robert Comperini:

This document was scanned from hardcopy. The document has not been thoroughly checked for conversion errors.

This text is also been revised (exemption 4274E), with updated termination dates.

Exemption 4274 is the exemption granted to the United States Ultralight Association (USUA). Current USUA instructors are also given permission to operate under this exemption. The privileges of this exemption are extended to USUA instructors only by written authorization of the USUA. Each USUA instructor has a personal copy of the exemption, with a letter from the USUA granting this authorization. New students should insist on seeing this document from their prospective instructors. USUA instructors are proud of their accomplishments as instructors, and should be happy to show you these documents.

Robert Comperini, USUA AFI #A16560

Exemption No. 4274D


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
In the matter of the petition of      *
for an exemption from  103.1(a)       *
and (e)(l) through (e)(4) of the      *
Federal Aviation Regulations          *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


By letters dated May 21, June 21, and August 10, 1990, and March 7, 1991, Mr. John Ballantyne, President, United States Ultralight Association, Inc. (USUA), P.O. Box 557, Mount Airy, MD 21771, petitioned for an amendment to Exemption No. 4274, as amended. This amendment, if granted, would allow members of the USUA to operate powered ultralight vehicles at an empty weight of 496 pounds. USUA also requests that the maximum fuel capacity be increased to 10 gallons, the maximum power off stall speed be increased to 35 knots, and the maximum air speed be increased to 75 knots.

Petitioner requires relief from the following sections of the Federal Aviation Regulations, (FAR):

Section 103.1(a) and (e)(l) through (e)(4) define, in pertinent part, the term "ultralight vehicle." For the purposes of this part, an ultralight vehicle is a vehicle that: "Is used or intended to be used for manned operation in the air by a single occupant; . . . If powered, weighs less than 254 pounds empty weight; . . . has a fuel capacity not exceeding 5 U.S. gallons; . . . is not capable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight; and . . . has a power-off stall speed which does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed."

The petitioner supports its request with the following information:

The petitioner states that its current exemption provides for the operation of a two-place ultralight vehicle to be used for the purpose of flight instruction. For the past five years, two-place vehicles have been operating under the terms of its exemption with relatively high success. USUA states that it has issued 200 current two-place ultralight training exemptions. However, USUA states that it has learned that these vehicles could be made substantially more reliable and thereby provide greater public safety if the changes it requests were made to the terms of the exemption.

USUA contends that the limitation of 350 pounds empty weight in its current exemption for two-place ultralight vehicles has been the major deterrent in developing a more useful and reliable vehicle. The petitioner states that the use of improved and proven aircraft quality materials in the construction of the airframe and wing covering could enhance the overall structure airworthiness if this weight limitation were raised. Additionally, the use of spring type landing gears and brakes could be incorporated into the design thereby reducing pilot fatigue, and the number of landing and taxiing incidents. Engines of improved design incorporating such safety features as dual ignition, increased horsepower, and improved engine/propeller combinations could be utilized, thereby improving the operational characteristics of the vehicle. USUA states that rates of climb could be improved and operation at reduced power and at reduced noise levels could be obtained. The petitioner contends that this would greatly improve the safety reliability of the powerplants and provide the vehicle with performance that equates to added safety both for the occupants as well as those on the ground. USUA states that under the current limitations there is a potential for engine failure due to the necessity of operating the engines at maximum power for extended periods of time. The petitioner adds that engine failure is one of the major enemies of all phases of aircraft operations.

The petitioner states that it seeks to bring about an improved training vehicle that will enhance overall flight safety with resultant benefits to society in the prevention of injury or death in the event of an accident. Therefore, USUA requests that the empty weight limitation be raised from 350 pounds to 496 pounds. The petitioner states that with this increase in weight comes a need for increased fuel capacity because higher horsepower engines will consume more fuel. USUA states that it would be short sighted to neglect increasing this fuel capacity. USUA recommends the maximum fuel to be ten gallons. The petitioner states that this will prevent the imminent increase in forced landings due to fuel exhaustion especially in adverse regimes of flight.

In its amended petition dated August 10, 1990, USUA states that two other increased limitations are associated with the higher weight requested. They are an increase of maximum power-off stall speed by eleven knots, from 24 to 35 knots, and an increase in the maximum air speed at full power in level flight by 20 knots, raising it from 55 to 75 knots. USUA states that these are modest increases that are directly related to weight/horsepower and will result in the vehicle performing more realistically in a training environment.

In its supplemental petition, USUA states that over the past decade many two-place ultralights have been prohibited from use in instruction because they have outgrown the exemption requirements even though their operating characteristics have remained similar to those of exempt ultralights. Ultralight trainers have gained weight as they have improved over the years. The petitioner contends that stronger landing gear, more reliable power plants, wheel brakes, and instruments have proven valuable in the training role. USUA states that each item adds weight, however, and the cumulative effect has driven many of them outside the parameters of the exemption.

The petitioner states that both registered ultralight instructors and FAA certificated flight instructors (CFI) rarely confuse the "fat" ultralight trainers with traditional light aircraft trainers like the Cessna 152 regulated by Part 91 of the FAR. USUA adds that ultralight students expect to receive flight training in a two-place trainer rather than a general aviation aircraft and CFIs largely agree. Therefore, USUA requests that these ultralight craft be allowed to operate within the exemption as ultralights of the same category rather than in Part 91 of the FAR where they are otherwise required to operate.

USUA states that the use of two-place ultralights for training has increased in many parts of the world, especially in France, West Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada. USUA states that it has conferred with microlight aviation leaders, and it has found strong similarities internationally in the identification of two-place craft which are being used for sport and recreation and which require pilot skills similar to single place ultralight vehicles.

With its letter dated March 7, 1991, the petitioner enclosed a USUA chart which lists the definitions of ultralights around the world. USUA places emphasis on the number of countries which allow two-place ultralights and what weights and speeds are permitted. USUA contends that the indicated countries permit ultralight trainers that are a little heavier and faster than allowed in the U.S. without needing the more complex restrictions of traditional aircraft. The petitioner adds that this information implies to U.S. citizens that the rules in Part 103 of the FAR are more appropriate for these craft than is Part 91 of the FAR.

USUA recognizes that there is some point at which an aircraft's weight and speed (wing loading) increase to the point of losing ultralight characteristics. But, USUA does not believe that it has reached that limit in the United States. According to USUA, a survey of the Ultraliqht Flying magazine Buyer's Guide for 1990 shows two-place ultralights exhibiting average empty weight of 411 pounds. The petitioner states that almost all of those ultralights are over the present maximum speeds as defined in its exemption. USUA adds that the average two-place ultralight trainer of today has only 1/2 of the wing loading of a Cessna 150, but that it often cannot meet the tight restrictions of USUA's exemption and cannot, therefore, be used for flight instruction.

The petitioner states that based on its experience with the ultralight program, it believes the quality of education for ultralight pilots, and thereby safety, is enhanced by permitting in-flight instruction in two-place vehicles that operate similar to the one place vehicles. USUA states that it has found wide agreement that the two-place ultralight is the preferred trainer for students who are in training for single and two-place ultralight flight.

However, USUA contends that the weight, speed, and fuel restrictions contained in the exemption are prohibiting the use of these ultralights for training. The petitioner asserts that this dilemma has developed over the years as a result of many incremental improvements to the ultralights. USUA states that it has never before asked FAA for such an increase to the exemption, but during the past years the ultralight community has better defined ultralight trainers. USUA states that it feels confident that the proposed increases serve to itemize those limits and that it means very much to those who fly ultralights.

Finally, the petitioner states that as a non-safety issue, but one that is very important to the economy of the U.S., these changes will make the resultant ultralight vehicle more competitive in its international marketplace. USUA states that this will improve the balance of payments and will make the U.S. manufacturing industry more viable.

A summary of the petition was published in the Federal Reqister on July 2, 1990, (55 FR 27325). A total of 22 comments were received. All comments were favorable.

The FAA's analysis/summary is as follows:

As stated in Exemption No. 4274, as amended, the FAA has not yet chosen to promulgate regulations regarding pilot certification for powered ultralight vehicles. The intent was to provide for safety with a minimum amount of regulation. The ultralight community was expected to take positive action for developing and administering, under FAA guidelines, a national pilot certification program.

The FAA has determined that the powered ultralight community in conjunction with organizations such as the USUA has 6uccessfully developed and administered such a program. This is specifically true with USUA's flight instruction program under the provisions of Exemption No. 4274, as amended. The FAA recognizes that through these efforts, safety has been enhanced in the powered ultralight industry. The FAA agrees that the amendments requested by USUA will not adversely effect safety for the powered ultralight industry.

Finally, the FAA anticipates a rule project to amend Part 103 of the FAR. Therefore, this exemption is further amended to gather data for the rule project.

In consideration of the foregoing, I find that a grant of exemption is in the public interest. Therefore, pursuant to the authority contained in Sections 313(a) and 601(c) of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, delegated to me by the Administrator (14 CFR 11.53), Exemption No. 4274, as amended, is hereby further amended to permit individuals authorized by the United States Ultralight Association to give instruction in powered ultralights that have a maximum empty weight of not more than 496 pounds, have a maximum fuel capacity of not more than 10 U.S. gallons, are not capable of more than 75 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight, and has a power-off stall speed which does not exceed 35 knots calibrated airspeed. The exemption is subject to the following conditions and limitations:

  1. Each operation must comply with all sections of Part 103 of the FAR except 103.1(a) and (e)(l) through (e)(4).

  2. Each ultralight operated under this exemption shall permanently display the following placard: "To be used for instruction only." This placard must have letters at least 1/2 inch in height and be displayed in a location easily visible and legible to all persons entering the ultralight vehicle.

  3. All flights carrying two occupants shall be for the purpose of instruction only, and one occupant must be either an FAA certificated flight instructor or a person recognized by the United States Ultralight Association as qualified to give instruction in an ultralight.

  4. All single-occupant flights are restricted to those associated with instruction, such as ferrying the vehicles between locations where instruction will be conducted, and must be operated by a person authorized in Condition No. 3 to give flight instruction.

  5. Prior to all two-occupant flights, the instructor must inform the student that the flight is conducted under an exemption granted by the FAA and that the FAA does not establish certification standards for powered ultralight vehicles, pilots or instructors.

  6. For identification purposes, the United States Ultralight Association shall issue an individual authorization to each person allowed to conduct operation under this exemption. Each authorization shall include an identification number and a copy of this exemption. The United States Ultralight Association shall also have a procedure to rescind this authority when needed.

  7. Each individual authorized to operate under this exemption shall provide USUA with a list (including the manufacturer, model, type, specifications and registration/identification number, if any) of the ultralight(s) he or she owns and expects to use for instruction under this exemption. The individual shall update this list every six months. An individual authorized to operate under this exemption may operate an ultralight covered by this exemption that is owned by another, provided that the ultralight displays the placard required by Condition No. 2.

  8. Each individual who operates an ultralight under the authority of this exemption must be familiar with its provisions and must have in his or her personal possession, for each operation, a copy of the authorization issued by the United States Ultralight Association and a copy of this exemption. These documents shall be presented for inspection upon request by the FAA.

  9. Each individual who operates an ultralight under this exemption and is involved in any incident, accident or mechanical malfunction as defined in Condition No. 10b shall promptly provide to USUA the information identified in Condition No. 10b.

  10. Six months from the date of this exemption and every six months thereafter, USUA will provide the Director of Flight Standards Service, AFS-l, with:

    a. The name, address, telephone number, qualifications, and flight experience of each flight instructor who is currently authorized to conduct training under this exemption. This information shall also include the manufacturer, model, type, specifications and registration/identification number (if any) of the ultralight(s) which the individual owns and expects to use for instruction under this exemption.

    b. A listing of any incident, accident, or mechanical malfunction of the airframe, drive train, or engine involving training under the terms and conditions of this exemption. That listing will include the ultralight's manufacturer, model, type, specifications and registration/identification number, if any; ultralight owner, address, and phone number; date of the incident/accident/malfunction; number and description of injuries, if any; number of fatalities, if any; and any information on the possible cause factors.

Unless sooner superseded or rescinded, this exemption terminates on July 31, 1993.

Thomas C. Accardi, Director, Flight Standards Service Issued in Washington, D. C., on July 26, 1991.

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