Jump to content

Modifying your Microlight

Recommended Posts

The following is an article that I have prepared (but not yet submitted), for the HGFA magazine, Soaring, and felt that it may be of interest to RAA members.


I don’t think I have ever seen a Microlight, other than in the factory, which has not been modified at all. Let’s face it, even if you buy a top of the range model, with all the bells and whistles, you will generally still need to fit a comms system and then a VHF radio and so on.


A Major Modification is any mod to a structural component or integral part of an aircraft i.e. any part which would affect the safe operation of the aircraft, and as such must be approved by the manufacturer. Any other modification would be classed as a Minor Mod and may be made by the owner. Details of ANY modification made should always be entered in the aircraft logbook.


So, let us assume that you wish to install a VHF handheld radio into your trike. How hard can it be? All you need to do is find a space to put it, stick it there with Velcro or tyraps and plug it in, right? Not quite. There are one or two other factors that you should be considering. After all, you are fitting an electrical device to an aircraft, not a car, and therefore, other factors apply. For example, if fitting the radio to the instrument panel with Velcro, some sort of secondary restraint, in the form of a lanyard or strap, should be fitted, in case the Velcro should fail during turbulence or a hard landing. I know of two separate instances, where an expensive GPS has been lost ‘over the side’ of a trike, due to insecure attachment. Fortunately, on neither occasion did it go through the prop!


If the installation involves the fitting of any electrical switches, then those switches should be mounted in the correct sense i.e. DOWN for OFF (This is a general aircraft standard, hence the term ‘Shut Down’). They should also be labelled appropriately. There are also considerations regarding the antenna, comms box and power supply.


Okay, this is all well and good, but this sort of information is not that easily available to the average trike flyer. Well, in Britain, it is. They have a severely regulated system and when they do any mod to their Microlight, that aircraft is then grounded until it has been checked and signed off by an inspector. In order to facilitate this process, they maintain a list of Technical Information Leaflets which include Standard Minor Modifications.


These include the installation of radio/intercom, transponder, strobe lights, camera, GPS and auxiliary power socket – just about everything you could wish to fit to a trike, and yes, panniers as well.


I would urge everybody who is contemplating modifying their Microlight (in the UK, Ultralights are known as 3-axis Microlights), to visit the BMAA (British Microlight Aircraft Association) website and check out these Technical Information Leaflets. Whether or not you choose to comply with them, and to what extent, is up to you, but at least you will be making an informed choice.


Go to: http://www.bmaa.org Select Tech Talk, then Technical Information Leaflets (TILs) or Standard Minor Modifications from the list of documents.


Safe Flying.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...