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Who wants an LAPL?

I can’t help wondering why the LAPL was ever introduced. Before it came, pilots had a clear choice between microlight (nationally governed, VFR only, restricted to airspace E-F-G in most countries) and PPL (international standard, IFR possible as an extension, all airspace accessible if suitably equipped and licensed).

Associated with each type of license was a category of aeroplanes, the microlight category having a clear advantage by not limiting maintenance to licensed engineers/workshops.

Then suddenly up pops this LAPL license and the associated LSA aeroplane category. Without having studied the last comma of the rulegiving, it seems like a minor duplicate of the EASA PPL, and the LSA requiring licensed maintenance just like the “real” aircraft. But it is not a real alternative for a microlight, at best it is a slightly cheaper alternative for a PPL.

Who ever asked for this? Not the pilot community, I think. It seems to me the LAPL/LSA categories were introduced by EASA, in the bad old days, as an alternative to the national ultralight licenses that they possibly wished to exterminate. National authorities would perhaps see it as relief for those whiners among ultralighters who keep on clamouring for higer MTOW.

Will the LSA category and associated LAPL have a future? I have my doubts.

The one application I see is aeroclubs using LSA-category planes for PPL training, there’s a handful such around here in Belgium.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Jan_Olieslagers wrote:

Will the LSA category and associated LAPL have a future? I have my doubts.

LAPL will definitely have a future, but the LSA? Heavier microlights are coming too, but electric only. It also seems like the microlight boom we have seen in the last 10-20 years have come to a halt. People are increasingly going for the more advanced and expensive planes, and the step up from microlight to a much more usable VLA/LSA with LAPL is small.

I don’t know of anybody who did the LAPL, but the much earlier UK version – the NPPL – was promoted with great hopes of revitalising the GA scene, but in reality some 2/3 of NPPL issues have been to existing PPL holders who failed their CAA Class 2 medicals.

I do know some pilots who have found the NPPL very useful, after getting e.g. unexplained chest pains which would totally ground a PPL holder until he spends 4 figures on (not available free on the NHS) diagnostic tests, whereas the same pilot can move to the NPPL as soon as his GP signs him off as OK to drive.

So my guess is that the #1 seling point of the LAPL is the medical angle.

Let’s face it, even the full PPL barely prepares the holder for flying anywhere useful. To me, it is blindingly obvious that PPL holders who hang in there long-term are

  • ones who are happy to fly 50nm for a burger and do that for ever, or
  • ones who learnt the necessary extras from other pilots or (mostly I suspect) from the internet
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I agree that medical is the no 1 reason for the LAPL. No 2 would be the reduced training cost. But when most PPL students train 60+ hrs instead of the minimum 45 hrs to get a PPL, it is difficult to see how they should be ready for a LAPL in the minimum 30 hrs as long as they still need to show they can fly. I am looking forward to see how that will work out in real life.

LSA (or VLA, for that matter) is not really associated with LAPL. LAPL is for up to 2.000 kg MTOM and 4 people, so you can fly all the usual SEP’s on that license. (A common misconception is you can only fly aircraft with 4 seats, but no, the restriction is people on board, not seats on board. So a 7-seat Piper Lance or a 5-seat TB-20 is fine on an LAPL.)

I believe the UK and Norway will let pilots go to their family doctors to renew their LAPL medical. Any other countries with bold CAAs out there? I think it is a sensible and user friendly move.

Last Edited by huv at 14 Jun 14:05
huv
EKRK, Denmark

My youngest son will start microlight instructions at 16. He will receive the license at 17 and can take the step up to LAPL very easily at 18 and fly Cessnas and most all private aircraft. He can do this paying 2-3k € for microlight and fly as much as he want. Then (if he chooses) 1-2k ekstra for LAPL. With a LAPL he can easily extend it to LAPL-H and LAPL-S (Helicopters and gliders) or PPL, or whatever else he chooses, go commercial for instance. A PPL cost 10-15k and is way out of his budget for several years.

With microlight – LAPL a new set of possibility is opened up.

I see it differently why would any recreational pilot do a PPL. The LAPL gives them everything they need its cheaper and easier to keep current as no examiner input is required.

The 30 hours is relevant for people with air cadet time as they do get to the required standard after 30 hours.

The NPPL (LAPL) is keeping some PPL’s who have lost their class 2 medicals, in the pool of GA pilots. This must be welcome rather than losing pilots over a bureaucratic tick mark.
BTW I saw a posting somewhere putting forward as a strong possibility that the UK CAA is considering abolishing class 2 medical requirements in favour of a GP endorsement that you are fit to drive a car (therefore a light aircraft). Has anybody else seen this?

Propman
Nuthampstead , United Kingdom

The 30 hours is relevant for people with air cadet time as they do get to the required standard after 30 hours.

How many of those out there, however?

Otherwise, one could argue that a 30hr license is a rather cynical concept because even the 45hr PPL package is achieved only by

  • those with very good aptitude (very few in the UK – a few %), or
  • those with a lot of unlogged time (i.e. pre-PPL mentoring)

The LAPL is also a dead end for any instrument qualification, but while very few will ever do one, I suspect a lot of people don’t want to cut themselves off.

BTW I saw a posting somewhere putting forward as a strong possibility that the UK CAA is considering abolishing class 2 medical requirements in favour of a GP endorsement that you are fit to drive a car (therefore a light aircraft). Has anybody else seen this?

It is in the last FTN (Flight Training News). 2 pages. Check your email…

It looks like they decided that a lot of people withold stuff from their AME so getting the GP to do the medical is actually better. Obviously that is true, because if you want stuff done which you don’t want even your GP to find out about, you will probably need to go abroad, which for most is too great a hassle.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Otherwise, one could argue that a 30hr license is a rather cynical concept because even the 45hr PPL package is achieved only by

Not it you have hundreds of hours of microlight flying. Well, you could argue it’s cynical then also, but turned around. With 15 h and some theory you will get LAPL. LAPL seen alone is a nice license, and I don’t see any use for PPL anymore unless you are going for IFR.

Btw, I didn’t use more than the minimum 45h for my PPL

There are thousands of LAPL holders in Germany.
The conversion for an old (pre JAR) ICAO PPl is primarily a LAPL.
If you an IR, a CVFR or do a flight test in radio navigation you convert to an EASA PPL.

Probably half of the PPL population there has converted to a LAPL.

EGBE - Coventry
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