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Certified, Homebuilt or Ultralight? (merged)

Fact is: Many (most?) ULs/Microlights are designed by aeronautical engineers. And many are weight restricted versions of certified planes

References please.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Alexis it is not that they are all incompetent, but that people make mistakes and especially if you have a small team it is easy to make mistakes. That is what certification is for and why it matters. Nevil Shutes biography “Slide Rule” is a good read on that topic.

Accidents as recorded by BFU are almost three times as high as on certified planes when normalized by number of certified aircraft in each category. But many of them are not problems of the design. Anyway I can give you some high-profile cases of completely unneccesary accidents if certification would have been done properly and the manufacturer would have built what they had “certified”.

That most or even many microlights were designed for higher loads is a myth like saying running LOP would ruin your engine…

@Silvaire exactly. You can certify stuff, you can test it (not always cheaper häthan certification and often part of it) and you can let things evolve :-)

Last Edited by mh at 22 Aug 14:09
Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

Flyer59 wrote:

And many are weight restricted versions of certified planes

actually, it´s other way around. There are only few LSA/VLA build from scratch (Katana (ok, there is TMG Dimona), Aquila to name most of them), most of LSAs are based on proved UL designs. And as far as I know UL and LSA were designed by aeronautical engineers, I know bunch of them ;-)



the only statistic i have found (done by an expert in PuF forum) are (for Germany)
- 2.4 fatalities per 100.000 flights for certified aircraft
- 3 fatalities per 100.000 flights for UL
The statistic was made by Dr. Ulrich Werner, who does that stuff for a living, but you were in that discussion aswell, if i remember correctly. These numbers correspond well with everything i have ever read about it.

Now, is the reason for the +0.6 fatalities in ULs of technical nature? Without having the time to make a statistic but having reads hundreds of accident reports, i would say the reason lies in the training that is not up to PPL standards.

Jan_Olieslagers wrote:

We seem to have a consensus that the LAPL is not a good option for T/S, because unripe. He still has to decide – or to find out, rather – what flying he really likes, if indeed he likes flying at all instead of merely liking the idea of flying. And perhaps he will like it but his partner won’t so he’ll still not go on. Pending that decision he can either start easy and cheap (ultralight) and scale up (to the PPL) eventually; or he can start “right from the beginning” then eventually scale down. Depending on budget I would recommend the first approach, others obviously prefer the second.


By own experience only – LAPL can be a sensible entry to flying. Since you save the radio navigation and focus on VFR flying as such, you will safe approx. (5 to)10hrs of instruction.
Depends on your general ability to relate to the idea of navigation on top of the physical flying.
With the LAPL, though, you can fly all usual SEPs in Europe (i.e. up to 2 ton, up to 4 persons).
It allowed me (with doubts as you describe) to find out what I actually like. After 50hrs flying with the LAPL, I was sure I want to go ahead.
At that time, flying the thing also required somewhat less constant attention, so that I could much better spend some of that on navigation.
Helped me, as much as the additional follow-up training, which the PPL hours were, 7 months post LAPL exam.

And yes, with the LAPL, you can usually get an SPL (UL) licence in a day, I you then find that this is sufficient.

Just my path, an informed decision, which I would follow again (and in a way repeat in analogy, if/when starting with an E-IR, not CB-IR)

EDM_, Germany

Thanks, ch.ess, that is a valuable contribution which might have been even more useful in the original thread.
Could you easily find an appropriate plane and instructor or did luck play its part?

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

At that time (2014), I had to search quite intensively to find a school that offered the LAPL training AND seemed friendly and open.
Several mentioned that they were in the process of getting ATO approval.

I found a good one that wasn’t enthusiastic about my plan, but supported it nonetheless.
And let me rent (school) planes after, C152 and C172.

Still working with that school near Munich.
They are equally reluctant now to offer E-IR, we shall see

PS: Sorry, did not pay too much attention to the original thread… as it followed the usual “religion” way (UL vs real plane) – just wanted to clarify what I saw as a potential misunderstanding, here

Last Edited by ch.ess at 22 Aug 16:38
EDM_, Germany

I think if ch.ess’s “school near Munich” is Jesenwang as per his EDMJ location, he learned a lot about flying just from learning from zero at such a short field.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 22 Aug 15:48

Now, is the reason for the +0.6 fatalities in ULs of technical nature? Without having the time to make a statistic but having reads hundreds of accident reports, i would say the reason lies in the training that is not up to PPL standards.

This indeed seems to be the situation in Spain where the relatively high number of UL accidents/incidents are caused by lack of airmanship.

I’m just getting into UL’s as a nice complement to my other flying and so still don’t know a lot about it, but my feeling is that safety of the machines should not be a concern:

1. Many (the majority?) come from the Czech republic, Poland, Slovakia and these countries have an aviation heritage. Not only very good software programmers there, but no doubt lots of aeronautical/mechanical talent too. Plus, everyone has access to advanced design and manufacture tools nowadays. To me, the fact that both Piper and Cirrus were about to launch into LSA’s using a Czech and Polish design respectively is a great testimonial.

2. I understand that Rotax engines are very reliable, if maintained and operated properly.

Just out of curiosity, does someone know where to find data on how many UL’s were built by which manufacturer?

Private field, Mallorca, Spain

I always see this kind of debate also on Spanish forums. It seems that we’re obliged to take one band and fight against the other. So then, everybody feels attacked by the other band. But I think that all of us should be more open-minded and try to look for the positive aspects of the ‘other band’ instead of looking for the weak point, or even worse, trying to make up some supposedly weak points.

For knowing about the other scene you really need to have been airplane owner in both sides, in my opinion. And it’s my case. From my own experience, I believe that it is not enough to read magazines or to know somebody that flies an ULM or an EASA airplane to know the other ‘world’. You need to be completely involved in both ‘worlds’ to really know about them, their differences, and their advantages.

And in my experience, those are the only hard facts:
- Any microlight is way cheaper to operate/maintain. Full stop. If you have owned a certified plane AND a micro/ultralight, there is nothing to debate, you just know it. For sure anybody can elaborate a specific theoretical case when this is not true, but probably it won’t be relevant generally speaking.
- Only certified planes give you the possibility to fly IFR. Full stop
- Only certified planes give you the possibility to fly with 2 or 3 people more (or even more). Full stop.
- Due to the VFR-only rule, you cannot travel in an ULM with a minimum of reliability if you really need to be in a specific place on a determinate date. Nevertheless, this is also true for certified airplanes if you the pilot are not IFR capable.
- Microlights give you access to many small airfields not accessible otherwise, with their advantages and their shortcomings. In the other hand, especially in some countries, you cannot land in some of the biggest airports (also with their advantages and their shortcomings).

Then everything else are just suppositions or personal views not based on own experience.

For example, I’ve read a lot of times here that with a ULM you cannot do any touring.
Three weeks ago, a group of 15 airplanes, 13 of them were ULM, departed from Spain. The group visited airports/aerodromes in Spain (obvious…), continental France, Italy, Corsica, Croatia and Slovenia in a trip of more than 6000 km. Furthermore, one of the ULM was coming from Canary Islands, totaling more than 10.000 km. I went with a Tecnam Sierra by myself, but in almost all the other planes there were two people on board.

LECU - Madrid, Spain
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