Ultralight aviation | Wikipedia audio article
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Ultralight aviation | Wikipedia audio article

August 15, 2019

Ultralight aviation (called microlight aviation
in some countries) is the flying of lightweight, 1- or 2-seat fixed-wing aircraft. Some countries differentiate between weight-shift
control and conventional 3-axis control aircraft with ailerons, elevator and rudder, calling
the former “microlight” and the latter “ultralight”. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, mostly
stimulated by the hang gliding movement, many people sought affordable powered flight. As a result, many aviation authorities set
up definitions of lightweight, slow-flying aeroplanes that could be subject to minimum
regulations. The resulting aeroplanes are commonly called
“ultralight aircraft” or “microlights”, although the weight and speed limits differ from country
to country. In Europe, the sporting (FAI) definition limits
the maximum take-off weight to 450 kg (992 lb) (472.5 kg (1,042 lb) if a ballistic parachute
is installed) and a maximum stalling speed of 65 km/h (40 mph). The definition means that the aircraft has
a slow landing speed and short landing roll in the event of an engine failure.In most
affluent countries, microlights or ultralight aircraft now account for a significant percentage
of the global civilian-owned aircraft. For instance in Canada in February 2018, the
ultralight aircraft fleet made up to 20.4% of the total civilian aircraft registered. In other countries that do not register ultralight
aircraft, like the United States, it is unknown what proportion of the total fleet they make
up. In countries where there is no specific extra
regulation, ultralights are considered regular aircraft and subject to certification requirements
for both aircraft and pilot.==Definitions=====Australia===
In Australia, ultralight aircraft and their pilots can either be registered with the Hang
Gliding Federation of Australia (HGFA) or Recreational Aviation Australia (RA Aus). In all cases, except for privately built single
seat ultralight aeroplanes, microlight aircraft or trikes are regulated by the Civil Aviation
United Kingdom===Paramotor and powered hang-glider pilots (including
those flying aircraft with wheels) do not need a licence, provided the weight of the
aircraft is not more than 75 kg (165 lb), but they must obey the rules of the air.For
heavier microlights the current UK regulations match the European ones, except that helicopters
and gyroplanes are not included.Earlier UK microlight definitions described an aeroplane
with a maximum weight of (finally) 390 kg (860 lb), and a maximum wing loading of 25
kg (55 lb) per square metre. Other than the very earliest aircraft, all
two-seat UK microlights (and until 2007 all single-seaters) have been required to meet
an airworthiness standard; BCAR Section S. In 2007, Single Seat DeRegulated (SSDR), a
sub-category of single seat aircraft was introduced, allowing owners more freedom for modification
and experiments. By 2017 the airworthiness of all single seat
microlights became solely the responsibility of the user, but pilots must hold a microlight
licence; currently NPPL(M) (National Private Pilots Licence).===New Zealand===
Ultralights in New Zealand are subject to NZCAA General Aviation regulations with microlight
specific variations as described in Part 103 and AC103.===United States of America===The United States FAA’s definition of an ultralight
is significantly different from that in most other countries and can lead to some confusion
when discussing the topic. The governing regulation in the United States
is FAR 103 Ultralight Vehicles. In 2004, the FAA introduced the “Light-sport
aircraft” category, which resembles some other countries’ microlight categories. Ultralight aviation is represented by the
United States Ultralight Association (USUA), which acts as the US aeroclub representative
to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.==Types of aircraft==
There are several categories of aircraft which qualify as ultralights in some countries: Fixed-wing aircraft: traditional airplane-style
designs. Weight-shift control trike: use a hang glider-style
wing, below which is suspended a three-wheeled carriage which carries the engine and aviators. These aircraft are controlled by pushing against
a horizontal control bar in roughly the same way as a hang glider pilot flies. Powered parachute: fuselage-mounted engines
with parafoil wings, which are wheeled aircraft. Powered paraglider: backpack engines with
parafoil wings, which are foot-launched. Powered hang glider: motorized foot-launched
hang glider harness. Autogyro: rotary wing with fuselage-mounted
engine, a gyrocopter is different from a helicopter in that the rotating wing is not powered,
the engine provides forward thrust and the airflow through the rotary blades causes them
to autorotate or “spin up” thereby creating lift. Helicopter: there are a number of single-seat
and two-place helicopters which fall under the microlight categories in countries such
as New Zealand. However, few helicopter designs fall within
the more restrictive ultralight category defined in the United States of America. Hot air balloon: there are numerous ultralight
hot air balloons in the US, and several more have been built and flown in France and Australia
in recent years. Some ultralight hot air balloons are hopper
balloons, while others are regular hot air balloons that carry passengers in a basket.===Electric powered ultralights===
Advancements in batteries, motors, and motor controllers has led to some practical production
electric propulsion systems for some ultralight applications. In many ways, ultralights are a good application
for electric power as some models are capable of flying with low power, which allows longer
duration flights on battery power.In 2007, the first pioneering company in this field,
the Electric Aircraft Corporation, began offering engine kits to convert ultralight weight shift
trikes to electric power. The 18 hp motor weighs 26 lb (12 kg) and an
efficiency of 90% is claimed by designer Randall Fishman. The battery consists of a lithium-polymer
battery pack of 5.6kWh which provides 1.5 hours of flying in the trike application. The company claimed a flight recharge cost
of 60 cents in 2007.A significant obstacle to the adoption of electric propulsion for
ultralights in the U.S. is the weight of the battery, which is considered part of the empty
weight of the aircraft despite efforts to have it considered as fuel. As battery energy density improves lighter
batteries can be used.==See also==
Aerosport (airshow) Backpack helicopter
Jetpack Nanolight
Experimental Aircraft Association Recreational Aviation Australia
United States Ultralight Association United States Powered Paragliding Association

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