Light-Sport Aircraft

Light-Sport Aircraft

The airworthiness of light-sport aircraft falls under a new set of rules called consensus standards, established by the industry group American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) rather than by the FAA. It will be up to the aircraft manufacturers to follow the standards. They also will be responsible for letting aircraft owners know how to keep their planes compliant. An annual inspection of the aircraft for airworthiness is required. The new rules simply remove some of the bureaucracy from the manufacturing process and put more of the burden on the manufacturer.

What are the requirements for the new light-sport aircraft? Light-sport aircraft must meet the performance and weight limitations set forth for a sport-pilot certificate, mentioned earlier.

Light-sport aircraft -- Challenger II
Some light-sport aircraft are those that were first developed for the ultralight market, such as this Challenger II.

There are actually three categories of LSAs: fixed wing, powered parachute, and weight-shift-control aircraft. The majority of new sport pilots fly fixed-wing planes, and the principles are approximately the same for all three categories, so they are covered in this website. However, if one of the other two categories interests you, contact the FAA or the EAA for additional information. In addition, light-sport aircraft that land on floats can weigh 1,430 lbs., allowing an extra 110 lbs. for the extra equipment.

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Several manufacturers currently are producing aircraft that qualify under the new LSA rule, but some older aircraft and most ultralights already fall within these limits so there are many planes from which to choose. Just to keep it simple, I am going to use the term “sport plane” (SP) when I am referring to any sport pilot-eligible airplane. I will use the term “light-sport aircraft” when I am referring to the new aircraft covered under the new SP/LSA regulation.

Knowledge Test

Want to read the rules for yourself? The FAA publishes and updates the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) that cover aircraft, airmen (pilots), airspace, air carriers, airports, navigational facilities, administrative regulations, and other heavy reading. You can (and should) buy a copy from the FAA or through aftermarket publishers and pilot shops. All FAA regulations can also be obtained from the FAA at www.faa.gov.
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