Sport pilot / light sport aircraft in the USA

The sport pilot/light-sport aircraft rules create a new category of affordable aircraft--called light-sport aircraft-that will make the dream of owning an aircraft more accessible than ever before. It establishes two new airworthiness certification categories:

A special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA); that is, aircraft sold ready-to-fly that may be used for flight training, rental, or personal flight, including personal flight instruction.

An experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA); that is, aircraft sold in a kit form that may be used for personal recreational flight or personal flight training.

Many would-be aviation enthusiasts find the cost of current type-certificated, ready-to-fly aircraft too expensive for their budgets. The new special LSA (S-LSA) aircraft category offers an opportunity for such individuals to buy new, ready-to-fly aircraft at prices substantially less than what is available in the current ready-to-fly market.

Other enthusiasts, while attracted to some of the kit aircraft currently available in the experimental amateur-built class (which requires that the owner build 51-percent or more of the aircraft), simply don't have the time or perhaps the necessary skills to spend 500 to 1,000 hours over a period of years building an airplane. With the new experimental light-sport aircraft (E-LSA) certificate, they'll be able to purchase a more-completed kit that will require far less work than any currently available. Manufacturers may choose how complete a kit they wish to produce and sell.

Parameters of a Light-Sport Aircraft

To be defined as a light-sport aircraft, the aircraft must meet the following parameters:

Maximum gross takeoff weight-1,320 lbs (599 kg.), 1,430 lbs. for water operation.
Lighter-than-air light-sport aircraft maximum gross weight-660 lbs (300 kg.)
Maximum stall speed-51 mph (45 knots)
Maximum speed in level flight with maximum continuous power (Vh)-138 mph (120 knots)
Two-place maximum (pilot and one passenger)
Single, non-turbine engine only, including rotary and diesel engines
Fixed or ground adjustable propeller
Unpressurized cabin
Fixed landing gear
Repositionable landing gear for seaplanes allowing the wheels to be rotated for amphibious operation.
Can be manufactured and sold ready-to-fly under a new Special Light-Sport (S-LSA) aircraft certification without FAR Part 23 compliance. Aircraft must meet ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials, Int'l) consensus standards. Aircraft under this certification may be used for sport and recreation, flight training, and aircraft rental.
Can be licensed Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) if kit- or plans-built. Aircraft under this certification may be used only for sport and recreation and flight instruction for the owner of the aircraft.
Can be licensed Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) if it was kit- or plans-built and operated as an ultralight trainers.
Application must be submitted within 36 months after the effective date of the rule.
Will have FAA registration-N-number.
Aircraft category and class includes: Airplane (Land/Sea), Gyroplane, Airship, Balloon, Weight-Shift-Control (Trike Land/Sea), and Powered Parachute (land/sea).
U.S. or foreign manufacture of light-sport aircraft is authorized.
May be operated at night by a private pilot if the aircraft is equipped per FAR 91.209 and the pilot holds a minimum of a third-class medical).

Standard Category Aircraft

Sport pilots may fly aircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate that meet above specifications. However, the airworthiness certification of the aircraft, and its maintenance requirements, will not be change.

According to the Type Certificates (TC's) and published specifications, the following standard category aircraft meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft (LSA) according to 14 CFR Part 1.1. However, individual aircraft of a given type may not meet the criteria due to modification by STC or field approval. The pilot would need to check the records of a particular aircraft and verify that it has not been modified in such a way as to disqualify that aircraft.

This does not constitute an all-inclusive listing but does serve to cover the more common aircraft. There may be other standard category aircraft that meet the criteria for operation by sport pilots.



C C-2 C-3 PC-3 CF K KC KCA
KF KM KS 50-C 50-F 50-L 50-LA 50-M
50-S 50-TC 50-TL 60-TF 65-C 65-CA 65-LA 65-LB
65-TAC 65-TC 65-TF 65-TAF 65-TL 65-TAL YO-58 O-58A
O-58B 7AC 7BCM 7CCM 7DC 11AC 11BC L-3
L-3A L-3B L-3C L-3D L-3E L-3F L-3G L-3J
L-16A L-16B            


415-C 415-CD


S-1A S-1A-65F S-1A-85F S-1A-90F S-1 Cadet


8 8A 8B 8C 8D


E-2 F-2 J-2 J-3 J3C-40 J3C-50 J3C-65
J3F-50 J3F-60 J3F-65 J3L J3P J4 J4A
J4B PA-11 PA-15 PA-17 L-4 L-4A L-4B
L-4C L-4D L-4H L-4J NE-1 NE-2  


35 35-70 35V CP-40 CP-50 CP-55 LP-65


BC BC-65 BC12-65 BC12-D BC12-D1 BC12D-85
BF BF-60 BF-65 BF12-65 BL12-65 BC12D-4-85
BL BL-65 DC-65 DCO-65 DF-65 DL-65
A L-2 L-2A L-2B L-2C L-2E
L-2F L-2G L-2H L-2J L-2K  



S-50-C S-50-F S-65-C S-65-CA S11AC S11BC SO-58B


8A 8C 8D


J3C-50S J3C-65S J3F-50S J3F-60S J3F-65S J3L-S J3L-65S
PA-11S J4A-S          


BCS BCS-65 BCS12-65 BCS12-D BCS12-D1 BCS12D-85
BFS BFS-60 BFS-65 BFS12-65 BLS12-65 BCS12D-4-85
BLS BLS-65        

Aircraft which do not meet the definition of Light-Sport Aircraft

The following aircraft DO NOT qualify for operation by sport pilots because their gross weight, as originally certificated, is above the 1320 lb limit (1430 lb for seaplanes):

Make Model Gross Weight
Aeronca 7EC (Note 1)
  11CC 1350
  LA 1680
  LB 1680
  LC 1680
  LCS 1852


120 1450
  140 1450
  140A 1500
  150, 150A thru M 1500, 1600
  152 1670


415D 1400
  415E 1400
  415F1 1400
  415F1A 1450
  A2 1450
  M10 1450


Funk B, C 1350


S-1B1 (L-6) 1650
  S-1B2 1650
Luscombe 8E 1400
  8F 1400
  T-8F 1400
Piper J4E (L-4E) 1400
  J5 (All) (Note 2)
Porterfield 35W 1326
  75-C 1326
Taylorcraft 19 1500
  F19 1500
  F21 1500
  F21A 1500
  F21B 1750
  F22 (All) 1750
  L-2M 1325


1) Aeronca 7EC's are normally certificated at either 1450 or 1500 lbs gross weight, which disqualifies them for operation by sport pilots. However, there are some 7EC's certificated at 1300 lbs gross weight. These aircraft are eligible for operation by sport pilots.

2) Piper J5s, including military variants (L-4F, L-4G, HE-1, AE-1) are certificated as 3 place aircraft, which disqualifies them for operation by a sport pilot. The 1450 lb gross weight is also disqualifying.