Frequently Asked Questions
Is there an association for microlighters in this country? The British Microlight Aircraft Association is a member's organisation which looks after the interests of microlighters in the UK. This school supports the British Microlight Aircraft Association. Click the link to find out more.
What is a Microlight? A microlight is a powered aircraft built within the following definition. Maximum all up weight allowable 450 kilograms for two seat aircraft, 300 kilograms for single seat aircraft, and able to sustain flight at a minimum speed of 35 knots or less. There must be a fuel capacity to allow at least one hour duration at maximum fuel consumption rate.
What is the difference between Flexwing and Fixed Wing microlights? The difference between these types of aircraft is the method that is used to control them in flight. Flexwing aircraft use a system called weightshift which involves the pilot moving the weight of the trike unit, the body of the aircraft, under the wing to control its speed and direction. Fixed wing aircraft have control surfaces like those on a conventional aircraft, which are operated by a control stick and rudder pedals.
What engines do microlights use?
Because microlights are restricted to a maximum weight some aircraft use lightweight two stroke petrol engines. Most aircraft are now fitted with four stroke engines as engines of lower weights have been developed. Dual seat aircraft usually have engines producing between 50 and 100 horse power.
What fuel do microlights use?
Most microlights have petrol engines which can run on unleaded petrol purchased from a garage. Some of the engines are two strokes and require oil to be added to the petrol. If you are based at, or visiting, an airfield with aviation fuel, Avgas, you can use that in most of the engines.
How much does a microlight cost? New dual seat microlights range in price from £30,000 to £80,000 depending upon the type and equipment fitted. Second hand microlights cost from about £5,000 upwards.
How fast do microlights fly? Most microlights fly at speeds between 50 and 80 mph. Some of the newer designs of fixed wing microlights however can fly much faster, up to 150 mph.
How far can a microlight fly? The range of a microlight varies from model to model. A normal range for a Thruster is 250 miles in still air with no wind. Some of the newer designs of fixed wing microlight have a greater range, some quote up to 1000 miles.
Do microlights have radio to talk to air traffic services? Radio is not mandatory on any aircraft flying outside controlled airspace. Many microlights do carry a radio for communication with ground stations. The radio must have a licence, currently £15 for 3 years, and the pilot must have a licence to use the radio.
Can I hire a microlight? Yes although currently only for instructional use or under club arrangements by licensed pilots.
Who maintains the aircraft? Microlighters can maintain their own aircraft or pay for it to be serviced by specialist personnel. Maintaining your own aircraft keeps the cost of operating the aircraft to a minimum.
What are the airworthiness requirements for microlights? Microlights have developed over the years from very basic flying machines into extremely sophisticated, yet simple aircraft, which must comply to recognised airworthiness standards allowing them to hold a Permit to Fly airworthiness document. The Permit remains valid for twelve months after which the aircraft must be inspected and then check flown, by a qualified person, to ensure both build standard and flight characteristics are maintained before the owner can apply for a renewal for the Certificate of Validity which is attached to the permit.
Do I have to fly from an airfield? No, you can fly a microlight from any suitable land area with the permission of the owner provided that there is no planning restraint to prevent this use and if there is any controlled airspace above the land you have permission of the controllers of that airspace.
What are the weather limitations for microlight flying? Microlights are best flown in light winds, up to 15 knots, good visibility and not in rain. Microlights cannot be flown at night or in cloud.
Do you need a licence to fly a microlight? In the UK you require a licence to fly microlights. The Licence is called the National Private Pilot's Licence with a Microlight rating, the NPPL (M). The Licence is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority, CAA, to a candidate who has completed a course of training and has passed the required flight and ground examinations. The Licence is kept current by flying for at least 12 hours every 2 years together with 1 hour of flying training and having your license rating endorsed by an examiner. If you cannot fly this time in a year you can fly a flight test with an examiner to revalidate your Licence.
Who can teach me to fly a microlight? Your tuition for the grant of a licence must be conducted by the holder of an instructor rating valid for microlight aircraft. Your examinations must be conducted by an authorised examiner.
How many lessons do I need to get a licence? The microlight licence requires at least 25 hours of flight training to include at least 10 hours flown solo. The normal time to reach the standard required to pass the General Flying Test is nearer to 50 hours than 25, although a few people do manage in the minimum time.
How much does it cost to learn to fly a microlight? The cost of learning varies from school to school and on the ability of the student. You should budget for between £3,000 and £6,000 for tuition fees.
Is there a minimum age to learn to fly microlights? Tuition can be logged towards a licence from 14 years of age. Pilots may fly solo from 16 years of age and may hold a Licence from 17 years of age. There is no maximum age for a pilot.
Do I need a medical? The Civil Aviation Authority requires pilots to certify their fitness to fly. The NPPL medical certification is a declaration made by the pilot to confirm that they meet the published requirements. The declaration of fitness is made on a form through the CAA web site.
Are there microlight competitions? Yes there are club competitions, national competitions and international competitions. The BMAA members magazine "Microlight Flying" has a calendar of events published in it each issue.
Do I need insurance to fly a microlight? Yes you do. As of 2005 it is mandatory to carry third party and passenger liability cover. Insurance will cost around £400 per year.
Can I fly my microlight abroad? Your British licence does not automatically entitle you to fly in other countries however most countries will allow you to fly because you do have a British licence. You should check before planning to fly overseas with the local Aviation Authority. The Permit to Fly is only valid for flight in the UK but again most countries allow you to fly a British microlight in their airspace. Again it is always wise to check before making firm plans. The BMAA will be able to help you with up to date information.