The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc.
Towing/Aerotow Administration Page 1 of 5 SOP 12-10 Copyright © 1974 - 2015 United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc. All rights reserved. v.2015-10-16.4
Standard Operating Procedure 12-10 Last Amended October, 2015
This SOP outlines operating procedures for towing related sections of the Pilot Proficiency System (SOP 12-02). The Towing Committee responsibilities are outlined in SOP 03-14.
12-10.02 Towing Operations
A. The operation of towing equipment can only be done under the direct supervision of individuals who hold the appropriate towing appointment, certification or special skill as defined in the sections below and in SOP 12-05.
B. All pilots holding USHPA-issued towing appointments, certifications & special skills are required to submit reports within 30 days of any accident which results in injury or any incident which had the potential of resulting in injury. Failure to submit an accident report may result in loss of insurance coverage for the instructor and/or flying site. Failure to comply with reporting requirements may result in the revocation of the towing appointment or certification.
C. All towing appointments and certifications have a maximum term of three years. Request for re-appointment or re-certification can be made to the appropriate party as listed below or in SOP 12-05, and is an administrative function that does not require Board approval.
12-10.03 Aerotow Pilot Appointment (ATP)
A. USHPA Aerotow Vehicle Pilot Appointment (ATP)
A pilot must possess this appointment to operate a powered ultralight tow vehicle involved in aero towing. Pilots participating in aero towing with powered ultralight tow vehicles are required by the FAA to carry a copy of FAA Aerotow Exemption #4144. See Addendum 2 – Exemption #4144 (Towing). A USHPA issued ATP appointment is only required for pilots operating Part 103 legal ultralights. For tug pilots towing with E-LSA or S-SLA tugs or other FAA certified aircraft, only an FAA private pilot certificate with an appropriate medical and tow sign off is required; these individuals are not required to hold a USHPA-issued ATP appointment.
1. A minimum of ten hours logged air time in type for the aerotow vehicle used, and either:
a. An FAA private pilot license with single engine rating, or
b. A minimum of 100 hours of logged powered ultralight flight time. For the weight-shift Trike tow vehicle, pilots may satisfy 50 of the 100 hours with hang gliding experience.
2. Five flights, either single or dual, as pilot of a glider being aero towed, and five flights as aerotow vehicle pilot aero towing a glider which is piloted by a USHPA Advanced rated pilot (H-4/P-4) highly experienced in aero towing.
3. Must give a complete discussion of aerotow vehicle operations including all normal and emergency procedures, and signals between aerotow pilot and glider pilot, in accordance with the USHPA Aerotowing Guidelines.
4. Must either: a. Successfully complete the Intermediate and Advanced pilot (H-3-H-4, P-3-P-4) written exams, or
b. Possess a USHPA Advanced pilot rating (H-4, P-4).
B. USHPA Aerotow Equipment Guidelines
1. The tow vehicle must have a rated thrust of at least 250 lbs.
2. The tow line connection to the towing vehicle must be arranged so as to not hinder the control system of the towing vehicle.
3. A pilot operational release must connect the tow line to the towing vehicle. This release must be operational with zero tow line force up to twice the rated breaking strength of the weak link.
4. A weak link must be placed at both ends of the tow line. The weak link at the glider end must have a breaking strength that will break before the towline tension exceeds twice the weight of the glider pilot and glider combination. The weak link at the tow plane end of the towline should break with a towline tension approximately 100 lbs. greater than the glider end. Weak links must be used in accordance with 12 CFR 91.309(a)(3). The USHPA recommends that a nominal 1G (combined operating weight of the glider and pilot) weak link be used, when placed at one end of a glider pilot’s V-bridle; or about 1.5-2G if placed at the apex of the tow bridle or directly in-line with the tow rope. The actual strength of the weak link used by the glider pilot must be appropriate for the operation and have a breaking strength between 80% and 200% MCOW (max. cert. operating weight) of the glider, in terms of direct towline tension. The weak link used at the tow plane end of the towline must be stronger, but not more than 25% stronger, than the strength of the weak link used at the glider end of the towline.
5. A release must be placed at the glider end of the tow line within easy reach of the pilot. This release shall be operational with zero tow line force up to twice the rated breaking strength of the weak link.
6. The purpose of the weak link is to protect the tow equipment, and may not prevent lockouts or other abnormal flight conditions.
C. Pilot Tow Endorsement Requirements When Using FAA Certificated Aircraft
1. CFR, part 61, section 61.69, outlines the requirements for towing privileges with certificated aircraft.
2. No person may act as pilot in command for towing a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle unless that person: a. Holds at least a private pilot certificate with the appropriate category rating.
b. Has logged a minimum of 100 hours as pilot in command in the same category aircraft used for towing.
c. Has a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who certifies that the person has received ground and flight training in gliders or unpowered ultralight vehicles, and is proficient in:
i. The techniques and procedures essential to the safe towing of gliders or unpowered ultralight vehicles, including airspeed limitations.
ii. Emergency procedures.
iii. Signals used.
iv. Maximum angle of bank.
d. Has a logbook endorsement from a pilot who already meets the requirements of part 61.69 (c) and (d), and has accompanied the pilot on three flights in an aircraft while towing a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle, or while simulating towing flight procedures.
e. In the preceding 12 months has performed three actual or simulated tows accompanied by a qualified pilot or has been towed for three flights in a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle.
3. In accordance with part 61.52, pilots towing under an ultralight exemption may credit experience obtained in ultralight vehicles for their towing experience and endorsements. Pilots must:
a. Hold at least a private pilot certificate with the appropriate category rating.
b. Have logged a minimum of 100 hours as pilot in command in the same category aircraft used for towing.
c. Have a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who has reviewed their logged ultralight towing experience and who has verified their aero tug pilot endorsement card received from USHPA, verifying they have received the authorized training to become a tow pilot of gliders and/or unpowered ultralight vehicles.
d. In the preceding 12 months have performed three actual or simulated tows accompanied by a qualified pilot, or has been towed for three flights in a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle.
4. Required endorsements in accordance with CFR, part 61, section 61.69 for towing with certificated aircraft:
a. Tow training endorsement by an instructor
I certify that [first name, middle initial, last name] has received the towing training required in section 61.69(3). I have determined that he/she is proficient in techniques and procedures essential to the safe towing of gliders and/or unpowered ultralight vehicles.
[date] [signature] [printed name] [CFI certificate number] [CFI expiration date]
b. Tow proficiency endorsement by a qualified private pilot or higher
I certify that [first name, middle initial, last name] has accomplished at least three flights in an aircraft while towing a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle, or while simulating towing flight procedures per section 61.69(5).
[date] [signature] [printed name] [pilot certificate number]
5. If the tow pilot is a registered aerotow pilot with USHPA, the previous two endorsements can be replaced with a single endorsement as follows:
a. Tow proficiency endorsement by an authorized flight instructor based on ultralight experience, section 61.52
I certify that I have reviewed the records of [first name, middle initial, last name], as required by section 61.52(c). I have determined he/she has the aeronautical experience towing glider and/or unpowered ultralight vehicles and meets the requirements of section 61.69.
[date] [signature] [printed name] [CFI certificate number] [CFI expiration date]
D. Aerotow Instruction
1. All instructors of Air-to-Air towing must possess a USHPA instructor certification and be an AT Observer, or a Basic or Advanced Instructor with the AT Special Skill.
2. All instructors who utilize Air-to-Air Towing for instructional purposes shall keep a written log of all such flights, including the date of the flight, the student's name, and the location of the instruction.
3. The AT special skill may be issued by AT Observers, and Basic or Advanced Instructors who possess the AT Special Skill.
E. Air-to-Air Towing Operational Standards
1. The pilots of both the towed and towing vehicles must have an agreed upon general course of action including take off and release signals, airspeeds, and emergency procedures for each pilot.
2. No pilot may intentionally release a towline in a manner so as to endanger life or property.
3. All Air to Air towing operations shall be conducted in compliance with all applicable regulations.
4. Tandem pilots and instructors must verify that tug pilots and equipment meet USHPA and FAA requirements. Failure to comply with this requirement is cause for revocation of the tandem and/or instructor appointments.
12-10.04 Tow Equipment Operator (TECH) Certification
A Tow Equipment Operator (TECH) Certification is required in order to tow gliders aloft using a surface tow device. Surface tow involves any activity where the device providing the force for the towed aircraft to gain altitude remains on the ground, whether stationary or moving. The certification is specific to either Hang Gliding or Paragliding. Operators meeting qualifications for towing both types of aircraft may hold dual certifications.
A. TECH Administration
1. The TECH certification is issued by a Towing Observer.
2. TECH certification is valid for a maximum of three years.
3. A TECH may only operate using the ST launch method.
4. TECH certification is revocable per SOP 12-07.
B. General Information
1. The TECH, as the operator of the tow system, is responsible for operating the system in the interest of the safety of the pilot.
2. When providing instruction or tandem flights, the TECH is required to operate the system in a manner such that operator(s) can observe the entire flight, regulate tow tension, drop tow tension, and sever the line if necessary. Whenever these actions are not possible to execute by the TECH, another individual will assist with these duties.
1. TECH candidate must operate under supervision, and demonstrate safe and proper operation of tow equipment.
2. A TECH candidate must demonstrate a minimum of ten tows under supervision of a Tow Observer of the glider type for which the candidate seeks certification.
3. A TECH candidate must have a Novice Rating (H-2 or P-2) for the type of craft they are seeking certification to tow,
4. A TECH candidate must demonstrate a minimum of five flights as pilot under tow in the aircraft type and the towing system for which the certification is sought.
5. A TECH candidate must give a complete discussion of the tow equipment, normal and emergency procedures, maximum allowable deviations, maximum allowable line pressure, and signals between operator and pilot, in accordance with USHPA towing guidelines, and must pass the TECH written exam.
1. Surface tow operations must be conducted in observance of all FAA regulations, in airspace wherein such an activity is permitted. Operators must comply with all applicable local ordinances.
2. Instructors of Surface-to-Air towing must possess a USHPA Instructor Certification and a TECH appointment.
3. Instructors and Tandem pilots must verify that the tow equipment and its operators meet USHPA requirements and standards, and when applicable, FAA requirements. Failure to comply with this requirement is cause for revocation of the towing appointment and/or tandem and/or instructor certification.