Foot Launched Tandems For Wheels, Too?
2010-Nov-3 Can we legally do wheel launched tandems using the USPPA
Exemptions & Sport Pilot
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Powered Sport Flying Radio show on this topic.
Powered paragliding operates under the ultralight rule, or
FAR part 103,
which makes it clear ultralight vehicles are for solo flying only
For many years, tandem (two place) training was allowed under "exemptions"
to FAR 103 until
abuses essentially forced the FAA to create the Sport Pilot rule which
ended all tandem exemptions, including those for powered paragliders. That
left no way to conduct even foot launched two-place training so I went
to work on behalf of USPPA.org to get a new exemption.
We tried mightily to get wheels incorporated in a new exemption but
they would have none of it. In fact, we weren't successful until all
reference to wheels was removed and applicability language allowed only
foot launched operations. The only concession they gave was to allow the
motor to support it's own weight during launch and landing, an allowance
that I fear is now at risk. A couple months after USPPA got its
exemption, ASC got theirs with almost identical wording except that it
also applied to unpowered paragliders and hang gliders which we weren't
interested in because USHPA already has a very good training program for.
USPPA's exemption was renewed in March of 2010 to continue through
October 2012 with no change in wording. ASC's was also extended, apparently
last month, and with no change in wording. And that's
where things go amiss.
For whatever reason, ASC chose to put out a "press release"
suggesting that "Foot Launched" could now be interpreted as "Foot Launchable."
Nothing changed besides Jim Stephenson's (ASC) interpretation of the
exemption. He even went so far as to say that it applied to tandems that launched on carts.
Mind you, we would all *LOVE* for this to be the case, to be able to
do tandems on wheels, but think it's remarkably reckless to unilaterally
define it so. I mean I'm not fond of having to get my helicopter inspected
every year but don't think it would be wise to unilaterally reinterpret
the word "annual."
Judge for yourself—here is the applicability verbiage for both exemptions (emphasis added):
USPPA #9751A: "This exemption applies only to flights for the purpose of
giving instruction in foot-launched, two-place powered
ASC #9785A: "This exemption applies only to flights for the purpose of
instruction in foot-launched, two-place powered and unpowered
Look similar? Notice the use of "foot-launched"? Does that sound like
"foot-launchable?" Mind you, we completely agree that it would be
better for the sport to allow wheeled tandems but obviously fear
that "reinterpreting" the rule to our favor may is not a good long term
I'm not AT ALL a fan of what happened with Sport Pilot but this is
the reality that we live in. Abuse what you've got and risk losing it.
Preserving this tool as a valid training method is important to me
and is why I worked hard at getting it through in the first place. I can
envision a scenario where, after a year or so the FAA gets complaints
from Sport Pilot Manufacturers saying "what's up with these guys flying
these wheeled two-placers while we need to go through certification?"
The FAA looks around and sees this unilateral reinterpretation of
"Foot-Launched" to "Foot-Launchable." It wouldn't surprise me one bit
that they'd just withdraw the exemptions and conclude we weren't
responsible enough to administer it.
I've sent a letter to the FAA requesting clarification on the matter
and will see what they say but, in the mean time, I hope we can
collectively do the right thing and, regardless of our opinions of
government bureaucracy and/or competency, not take liberties that are
obviously beyond their intended scope.
Is "foot-launched" the same as "foot-launchable?" I hope so but will
await official word.
Please note that ASC charges $100 per person who signs up for their
program. USPPA doesn't, and never has, charged anything for its program.
In fact, USPPA pays out to those pilots who earn ratings in an
effort to encourage thoroughness.