Aviation Safety Letter 1/2005
COPA Corner - Ultralights and Passengers
by Adam Hunt, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA)
The year 2003 was not the best for passengers in ultralight aircraft in Canada - several were injured or killed. The worse part was that many of these passengers were not permitted to be flying in the ultralight in the first place. In one case, a passenger was severely injured while flying with a pilot who held a Pilot Permit - Ultralight, which was restricted "no passengers." In another case, a pilot and passenger were killed when their advanced ultralight crashed due to a non-factory-authorised modification, which rendered the carrying of passengers illegal.
As ultralight fliers, if we want to be able to continue to have the privilege of carrying another person with us, we have to know when that is allowed, and stick to the rules. If we don't, then we may find the rules changed. So when can you carry another person in an ultralight? The answer depends on the class of ultralight in question. Basic ultralights can only have two people on board under two circumstances. The first is when one occupant is an instructor and the other one is a student and they are conducting a flying lesson. The second instance is when both are pilots who have privileges to fly an ultralight airplane. That means that both have to hold one of: Pilot Permit - Ultralight, Pilot Permit - Recreational, Private Pilot Licence - Aeroplanes, Commercial Pilot Licence - Aeroplanes or an Airline Transport Pilot Licence - Aeroplanes.
Holders of licences for helicopters, balloons, gyroplanes, etc., do not qualify! If the passenger you want to carry doesn't fit either one of those circumstances, then they can't fly in a basic ultralight.
For advanced ultralight aircraft, two requirements have to be met - the aircraft and the pilot have to be qualified to carry a passenger. If the aircraft is registered as an advanced ultralight, then it can be used to carry a passenger only if it is maintained in accordance with the manufacturer specified maintenance program; the owner of the advanced ultralight aeroplane has complied with any mandatory actions specified by the manufacturer; the advanced ultralight aeroplane has not been modified without written approval from the manufacturer; and a placard is installed in a location highly visible to the both occupants that says: "This aircraft is an advanced ultralight aeroplane and is operating without a certificate of airworthiness."
The pilot also has to have a licence that allows them to carry passengers. Currently, that means a Pilot Permit - Recreational or higher licence. At some point in the near future, it will be possible to fly a passenger in an advanced ultralight with a Pilot Permit - Ultralight; with the proposed passenger carrying endorsement, but that is not available yet.
As ultralighters, if we want to be able to continue to carry passengers, we have to make sure that we only carry passengers when it is legal to do so. Carrying illegal passengers has the potential to hurt everyone who values ultralight flying. More information about COPA can be found at http://www.copanational.org/.
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