Light-Sport Category Aircraft Airworthiness Certifications

General Information.

An aircraft must meet the definition of light-sport aircraft (LSA) before the certification process can begin. If it meets the definition, it must then be manufactured to the applicable standard.

There are five categories of LSA's: airplanes, gliders, powered parachutes, weight-shift-control aircraft (commonly called trikes), and lighter-than-air aircraft (balloons and airships).

There are three types of aircraft that are excluded from the LSA category. They are gyroplane aircraft, transitioning ultralight-like vehicles, and light-sport kit aircraft. These aircraft receive an experimental LSA certification.

Definition. As defined in FAR 1.1, a light-sport aircraft is an aircraft other than a helicopter or powered-lift that since its original certification has continued to meet the following:

- A maximum takeoff weight of not more than 660 pounds (300 kilograms) for lighter-than-air aircraft; 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or 1,430 pounds (650 kilograms) for aircraft intended for operation on water.

- A maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (VH) of not more than 120 knots calibrated airspeed under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level.

- A maximum never-exceed speed (VNE) of not more than 120 knots calibrated airspeed for a glider.

- A maximum stalling speed or minimum steady flight speed without the use of lift-enhancing devices (VS1) of not more than 45 knots calibrated airspeed at the aircraft’s maximum certificated takeoff weight and most critical CG.

- A maximum seating capacity of no more than two persons, including the pilot.

- A single, reciprocating engine, if powered.

- A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller, if a powered aircraft other than a powered glider.

- A fixed or auto-feathering propeller system, if a powered glider.

- A fixed-pitch, semi-rigid, teetering, two-blade rotor system, if a gyroplane.

- A nonpressurized cabin, if equipped with a cabin.

- Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft intended for operation on water or a glider.

- Fixed or repositionable landing gear, or a hull, for an aircraft intended for operation on water.

- Fixed or retractable landing gear for a glider.

Note: Even though gyroplanes (or gyrocopters) are identified in this definition, they are not included in FAR 21.190 so they must be issued an experimental LSA certification.

Click on the links below to find out more about Light-Sport Aircraft Airworthiness Certification:

Light-Sport Category - Eligibility

Light-Sport Category - Certification Procedures

Light-Sport Category - Production Flight Testing

Light-Sport Category - Flight Test Areas

Light-Sport Category - Operating Limitations

Back to the Special Airworthiness Certification Page



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