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LSA / UL accident rates, and French microlight license

France is probably the country where microlights are the less regulated.
No medical required
No recency required
Valid for life
No examiner required.
You just take your test with your instructor. And with your license, if you satisfied your instructor with your knowledge of French, comes a certificate that allows you to speak French on the radio in any aircraft.
It might change, and not for the better, so during your next vacation in France, why not adding a French ML licence to your collection of airman certificates?

Airworthiness is as lightly regulated: no external inspection is required, you just have to self certify that your aircraft is airworthy, that’s all.

Isn’t there a theoretical test, too, in a series of multiple choice questions? Organised once in most months, in the centre cities like Lille, Metz, Lyon, Marseille, Rennes..?
And perhaps the idea is only useful for those who can fly a F-registered plane in their home country: here in BE we can, but AIUI the Germans can’t, legally. I have no idea about other countries.

Last Edited by at 24 Apr 18:10
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

It might change, and not for the better, so during your next vacation in France, why not adding a French ML licence to your collection of airman certificates?

I’m a microlight instructor, and when I talk to GA pilots about microlighting in France, they’re always amazed to discover how relatively unregulated it is. But please don’t be confused – that doesn’t mean unsafe, or unconcerned – just a refreshing absence of the heavy administrative framework encountered elsewhere.

As you say, though, @Piotr_Szut, it may well change sooner rather than later. A microlight licence is always a good addition to your flying skills. A GA pilot may be surprised to find that these small, light machines can take some skillful piloting Some I have flown with can do the conversion in 2 short flights, i.e. around an hour of flying. Others may take a little longer to get accustomed to the new sensations. It’s for your instructor to assess – when s/he feels you are ok, you will get the papers to take to the DGAC for issue of your microlight licence, which is then valid for life – no renewals, no recency requirements.

@Jan_Olieslagers If you hold the PPL theory, there’s no need for any other microlight exam. There’s a short oral test to pass, your instructor can take care of this.

Highly recommended, if only to see how the other half live….

Bordeaux

Jojo wrote:

But please don’t be confused – that doesn’t mean unsafe

This DGAC video about general aviation accidents in 2015 (unfortunately FR only) seems to suggest that there were disproportionately more accidents in ULM flying, but maybe I also interpreted their statements wrong:



But my impression when reading the accident reports and the annual reports of the BEA were always that I wouldn’t want to get into ultralight flying because of a perceived higher risk.

Certainly there is a counterpart to the liberties in French ultralight flying: a lot is left to pilot/owner’s own responsability, and that should be taken serious. I must say that the few French ultralighters that I met did make quite an impression on me – quite different to some of their counterparts in Southern Belgium – by their very rigid discipline.

@Jojo: it’s not only G/A pilots that are surprised at the French liberties – many German ultralighters are quite surprised – and jealous! – when they see the differences with their own environment.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Jojo wrote:

– that doesn’t mean unsafe, or unconcerned –

That is a truth that needs some modifications. LT (Norwegian CAA) have threatened to ground all microlights due to an un-proportionate number of fatal accidents in resent years. These accidents were all due to loss of control in flight, but also some disorientation (unintentional VFR into IMC I think it was). One of the things we had to do in Norway was that every microlight pilot had to attend a safety meeting to keep the license valid. We had that last week. The main impression (not just my impression, but what the meeting was all about really) was that microlight pilots are lousy pilots (compared with PPL), and the instructors, in general, are equally lousy. One of the things that could come out of all this, to keep LT satisfied, is that instructors need to have PPL. Time will show, but the day we had the meeting, one more accident occurred due to the same reasons, but this time with no fatalities (just luck I guess). I got a PPL also, so I guess I’m not that inflicted I did find it very interesting and important that the focus was on increasing piloting skills rather than some technical/regulation “improvement”.

LeSving wrote:

I did find it very interesting and important that the focus was on increasing piloting skills

That is also the main point of the video to which I linked. The majority of the accident causes are linked to the pilots, and the difference between accident numbers in different categories (planes vs. gliders vs. ULM) can probably be attributed to a large part to the environment in which they operate. So that would mean if I as a PPL climb into an ULM and only operate from the same aerodromes which I currently use in certified planes, I might bring my risk down to the level in certified GA, but I think there would still be other factors that are hard to control, like the constant overloading of many of these machines.

LeSving wrote:

the focus was on increasing piloting skills rather than some technical/regulation “improvement”

I think the two are related – i.e. that any skill deficit (if there is one) is a consequence of the regulators’ definition of a “microlight”.

I used to own a microlight (a Zenith CH701), and I’m building another (although if I were building it more slowly I’d be taking it apart…). It was an absolute gas to fly in decent weather, and apart from preferring to have air blowing over the tail until the nosewheel was firmly on the ground, it demanded no special technique or training. The UK LAA castrated the type for no good reason by limiting it to one stage of flap, but that’s what they do.

But it was a fair-weather toy; it felt somewhat fragile, it had a Jabiru engine, limited payload and it was not comfortable in turbulence, so I only flew it for a total of 43 hours and 210 landings in two and a half years – barely 10% of my total PIC time for that period. Even if I’d had no other aeroplane, I doubt if I’d have flown the CH701 for more than 40 hours a year. I think that would be about average for a UK microlight, but is it really enough to maintain an adequate level of skill?

If there is a skill deficit among microlight pilots, and if that’s partly due to low or infrequent use, that’s a direct consequence of the technical definition of the aircraft. By removing the arbitrary weight and stall speed restrictions one could have a more usable airplane, less fragile, with a better engine, and which can carry two people and luggage with fuel for four hours without infringing the laws of physics. In other words, an “LSA”. Then people might fly them more, and more often – and get better at it.

Glenswinton, SW Scotland, United Kingdom

Rwy20 wrote:

So that would mean if I as a PPL climb into an ULM and only operate from the same aerodromes which I currently use in certified planes, I might bring my risk down to the level in certified GA

I don’t think so. In Norway, microlight and certified aircraft are all operated from the same airfields. There is no such thing as microlight airfield in Norway. An airfield is an airfield whether it is 300 m on a desolate island, 5000 m in controlled airspace or a natural field (frozen lake or a patch of farming field for instance). All these accidents happened from/to/on airfields that are used by certified aircraft just as much as microlights. The causes were lack of airmanship, lack of piloting skills or both. Certified GA haven’t had fatal accidents in ages, and they operate from the same fields.

Rwy20 wrote:

like the constant overloading of many of these machines.

That was not a factor in any of the resent accident, can’t remember it was a factor in any whatsoever. Microlights are always “overweight” when there are two on board. It is one of those things that are always mentioned, but LT is likely to increase this to 540 or 600 kg or whatever the manufacturer say (but below 540 or 600).

Jacko wrote:

If there is a skill deficit among microlight pilots, and if that’s partly due to low or infrequent use, that’s a direct consequence of the technical definition of the aircraft. By removing the arbitrary weight and stall speed restrictions one could have a more usable airplane, less fragile, with a better engine, and which can carry two people and luggage with fuel for four hours without infringing the laws of physics. In other words, an “LSA”. Then people might fly them more, and more often – and get better at it.

I agree, but I don’t think flying too little is the case. I think it’s more that all flying tends to be A to B kind of flying with no practice in handling the aircraft. With 500h of flying from A to B on autopilot, you are good at flying straight and level on autopilot, but nothing more. That competence will not help you when you are 200 ft AGL and stalled out (or prevent you from getting at 200 feet and stalled out in the first place). One of the things we will arrange in our club, is for the microlight pilots to come with an instructor for spin training in an aerobatic plane.

As the lecturer/chief instructor at the safety meeting said. It is nothing wrong with the airplane, it is nothing wrong with the regulations. It’s all in the pilot’s head, and that needs to be fixed.

How does the microlight PPL syllabus compare with the EASA PPL syllabus?

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Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
69 Posts
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