Experimental LSA Test Flight Areas
Under FAR's 91.305 and 91.319(b), all initial experimental LSA test flight operations of aircraft must be limited to the assigned flight test area until the aircraft is shown to be controllable throughout its normal range of speeds and all maneuvers to be executed, and has not displayed any hazardous operating characteristics or design features.
In the case of the first flight of an aircraft from an airport surrounded by a densely populated area, with at least one acceptable approach/departure route of flight, the FAA/DAR will ensure that a route of flight is selected that subjects the fewest persons and least property to possible hazards.
In addition, upon leaving such an airport, the aircraft will be required to operate from an outlying airport (within the experimental LSA test flight area) until its controllability and safety are established, after which the aircraft may return to its base and use the established corridor for subsequent operations. The description of the area selected by the applicant and agreed to by the FAA will be made a part of the operating limitations.
In the case of an aircraft located at any airport surrounded by a densely populated area and lacking any acceptable approach/departure route of flight, the FAA will deny the airworthiness certificate. The applicant must then relocate the aircraft by other means to a suitable airport.
NOTE: An acceptable approach/departure route of flight may be considered to exist when the route of flight provides a reasonable opportunity to execute an off-airport emergency landing that will not jeopardize other persons or property.
ASSIGNMENT TO A TEST FLIGHT AREA
Although the period of assignment to an experimental LSA test flight area is not established by regulation, a minimum time of 5 hours is typically used by FAA/DAR's when issuing airworthiness certificates for experimental LSA. This time is used to determine the aircrafts controllability throughout its design limits.
Previously noncertificated ultralight-like vehicles or other aircraft that meet the definition of an LSA as defined in FAR 1.1 will not be limited to operation within an assigned flight test area, provided the following are met:
- Evidence is shown of routine inspections; and- It is shown through flight records that the aircraft is controllable throughout its normal range of speeds and throughout all maneuvers to be executed, and has no hazardous operating characteristics or design features; and- All aircraft records are presented.
Aircraft previously issued a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category under FAR 21.190, applying for an experimental certificate for the purpose of operating LSA under FAR 21.191(i)(3), may not be required to complete a flight test program under phase I. However, the applicant must provide evidence that no major modifications or unapproved changes were made after the issuance of the original airworthiness certificate.
Following any major change, an experimental LSA test flight area will be assigned for an appropriate time to conduct a test flight and evaluate that the aircraft is in a condition for safe operation. The FAA will require 5 hours of flight time within the flight test area in this case also.
OPERATION OUTSIDE OF THE TEST FLIGHT AREA
During operation outside the experimental LSA test flight area, the following placard must be displayed in the aircraft in full view of all occupants:
“PASSENGER WARNING—THIS AIRCRAFT IS AN EXPERIMENTAL LIGHT-SPORT AIRCRAFT AND DOES NOT COMPLY WITH FEDERAL SAFETY REGULATIONS FOR STANDARD AIRCRAFT.”
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