Take to the Skies in an Ultralight

August 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Miscellaneous

Ultralight or microlight aviation generally refers to an aircraft that seats either one or two people and became very popular during the 1970s through to the 1980s, as it was more affordable than other aircraft. Due to the development in popularity of this type of aircraft, each country set up their own rules and regulations in regard to ultralight aviation, taking into account speed and weight, with allowances being made for amphibian and seaplanes. Some countries also make allowances for the installation of ballistic parachutes, meaning that there are no internationally recognized regulations, as each country has their own guidelines.

In affluent countries such as the United States and Canada, a large number of their civil aircraft consist of ultralight planes. The strictest regulations in regard to ultralight or microlight aircraft are in Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Italy. In the United Kingdom, New Zealand and India, the usual term is ultralight, while other countries will refer to these aircraft as microlights if they are three axis aircraft and depending on their weight. Varying from country to country, ultralights are viewed under the general aircraft specifications, requiring that pilots and aircraft have the necessary certifications.

Generally microlight and ultralight aircraft are used for sport and leisure, but pilots need to ensure that they are aware of the rules and regulation of their country before they lift off. For instance, under the Federal Avaition Regulation, an ultralight aircraft has a maximum speed of fifty-five knots, has a five gallon fuel capacity, is a one-seater aircraft, and has a maximum powered weight of two hundred and fifty-four pounds. In Australia, ultralights fall under their Recreational Aviation regulations and allows for two seats with a maximum of five hundred and forty-four kilograms as take-off weight. It is therefore vital for pilots to ensure they know the regulations of their local aviation authority.

Ultralights are also divided into various categories, such as weight-shift control trike, powered parachutes, powered paragliding, powered hangglider, autogyro, and electric powered ultralights. Due to the high number of ultralight accidents that were recorded, it is standard regulation in most countries that pilots must have a certification or license to pilot an ultralight. There are also numerous academies that offer ultralight pilot training and certification to ensure the safety of pilots and their passengers.

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