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
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
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20591
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In the matter of the petition of *
UNITED STATES ULTRALIGHT ASSOCIATION * Regulatory Docket No. 24427
for an exemption from 103.1(a) *
and (e)(l) through (e)(4) of the *
Federal Aviation Regulations *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
GRANT OF EXEMPTION
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
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
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
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
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
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:
- Each operation must comply with all sections of Part 103 of
the FAR except 103.1(a) and (e)(l) through (e)(4).
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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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