MICROLIGHT FACTS

HOW MANY MICROLIGHTS ARE THERE IN THE UK?

On 1ST JANUARY 2014     CAA   G-INFO DATABASE  records

Microlight Aircraft of 1-750 kg (Genuine Microlights are only up to 450kg)   4,029

All aircraft in the same period registered 19,851

Gyroplanes (which count at Microlights)  327

Contrast this with fixed-wing landplanes 1-750kg   3,269

Unfortunately the Civil Aviation Authority CAA does not provide information in such a way that accurate statistics can be obtained. Their recording methods are not transparent. In the 21st Century this is lack of transparency is not acceptable practice for a professional regulatory organization. Why are accurate figures not available?  Furthermore, the information recorded from renewals of C of A certificates once every three years ensures that the information obtained is never fully up to date.

There is no detailed recording of business and private ownership  available from the CAA .

The G-INFO online database search facility is so poor that searching for “microlights” brings up only 74 registrations.  A search for “ultralights” provides records for another 31 aeroplanes.

Unless one is prepared to check all of the 4, 029 entries individually is is not possible to obtain an accurate figure for microlight aircraft under 450kg registered in the UK.

A  Microlight with 2 seats cannot weigh more than 450 kg.

That microlight and light aircraft ownership is slowly growing is clear. In 1985 there were 1,580  aircraft under 750kg and in 1991 this had risen to 3,050. In 1991 there were in total 9,836 aircraft of all types registered.  Aircraft ownership has doubled in twenty years. There has been a gradual rise in the number of aircraft since 1984.  Microlights and gyrocopters for the second largest category of aircraft after fixed-wing planes. By 2001 all classes of aircraft saw growth rising at 4.5% p.a.

One microlight website says that there are more than 3,000 microlights in the UK and it’s obvious that a large number of them are based in Wiltshire or nearby!

Microlights are a relatively new  phenomenon. In the 1950s a product designed for NASA by Francis Rogallo, the  Rogallo wing, a folding delta wing, enabled the development of hang-gliding in the 1960s and 1970s.  The motorised hang-gliders of the 1960s developed into the microlights of the 1970s.

So Microlights have only been around for  a few decades.

Modern Microlights have 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines (very much like old motorbikes).

In the beginning microlight flying was totally unregulated and pilots did not need any official training. It took some time for safety and licensing restrictions to be instituted with some regulation.

The main area of aviation growth in the last twenty years has been in microlights, home-built planes and small helicopters.

There are 28,000 Private Pilot Licence holders in the UK.

There are 19,000 Professional Pilot Licences in the UK.

How many  Microlight Pilot Licences, NPPL, are there?  http://www.nationalprivatepilotslicence.co.uk/

The National Private Pilots Licence NPPL syllabus is approved by the BMAA and CAA.

http://www.nationalprivatepilotslicence.co.uk/

Aircraft flying  is a grown area. 1.25-1.35 million hours are flown p.a. by General Aviation.

An estimate of flying hours flown from 2001 reveals that twin seat private aircraft flew 77,088 hours and single seat private aircraft flew 3,248 hours. Business flights accounted for 5,902 hours in a twin seat and 154  hours in single seat craft.  http://www.gaac.org.uk/gasar/GASAR_Conclusions.pdf

For this aviation study PDFs – 2001 on the GAAC website see

http://www.gaac.org.uk/gasar/gasar.htm

It now takes 25 hours of flying to get a Microlight Pilots Licence (PPL).

Basically, it’s a cheap way to fly, the planes are cheaper to buy than regular light aircraft, and they are cheaper to run.  They might require warm or waterproof clothing,  but hey, what’s discomfort when you can  rile the people  below?

HOW FAST DO MICROLIGHTS FLY?

Microlight speed varies, but generally it’s 60-100 mph. A flex wing with an 80hp 4 stroke engine can cruise at 57 mph and can achieve 65 mph. However the weight including passengers is limited to 409 kg.

HOW HIGH CAN A MICROLIGHT  FLY?

Microlights can legally fly at any height on take-off or landing.   It might not be advisable for them to fly low over people or buildings on safety grounds  but some pilot’s just can’t seem to help themselves.

The legal minimum is 500′ when not taking-off or landing (it used to be 1,000 feet but the EU in it’s blind wisdom altered this) .  The maximum normal height is about 3,000′ but Microlights can fly above 10,000′ up to 30,000′ although oxygen will be required.

HOW FAR CAN A MICROLIGHT FLY?

A Microlight is limited to carrying 50 litres of fuel which allows about 4 hours of flying, or about 240 miles.

 CAN A MICROLIGHT BE USED FOR ACROBATICS?

A Microlight cannot be used for acrobatic flying, although a couple of Microlights have been spotted hedge hopping near Redlands Airfield in the distant past!   I guess a video of their behaviour might have elicited a rap on the knuckles from the BMAA……

WHO CAN FLY A MICROLIGHT? 

It is alarming to discover that a 14 year-old can fly a microlight but  a minor can’t fly solo until they are 16.  Anyone who can get a medical certificate can fly.

WHERE & WHEN CAN A MICROLIGHT FLY?

A Microlight can fly just about anywhere.  It used to be illegal to fly over settlements but the CAA altered this rule to comply with  EU regulations and so Microlights can now  fly where they choose, even if it isn’t safe, and even if there isn’t anywhere to glide to safely in the event of engine failure.

It is thankfully illegal for a Microlight to be flown at night.