A light-sport aircraft (LSA), or light sport aircraft, is a fairly new category of small, lightweight aircraft that are simple to fly. LSAs tend to be heavier and more sophisticated than ultralight (aka "microlight") aircraft, but LSA restrictions on weight and performance separates the category from established GA aircraft. There is no standard worldwide description of an LSA .
LSAs in different countries
The civil aviation authorities in different countries have their own particular specifications and regulations which define the LSA category.
For example, in Australia the Civil Aviation Safety Authority defines a light-sport aircraft as a heavier-than-air or lighter-than-air craft, other than a helicopter, with a maximum gross takeoff weight of not more than 560 kg (1,235 lb) for lighter-than-air craft; 600 kg (1,323 lb) for heavier-than-air craft not intended for operation on water; or 650 kg (1,433 lb) for aircraft intended for operation on water. It must have a maximum stall speed of 45 knots (83 km/h; 52 mph) in landing configuration; a maximum of two seats; there is no limit on maximum speed unless it is a glider, which is limited to Vne 135 kn CAS; fixed undercarriage (except for amphibious aircraft, which may have repositionable gear, and gliders, which may have retractable gear); an unpressurized cabin; and a single non-turbine engine driving a propeller if it is a powered aircraft.
In the United States, several distinct groups of aircraft may be flown as light-sport. Existing certificated aircraft and experimental, amateur-built aircraft that fall within the definition listed in 14CFR1.1 are acceptable, as are aircraft built to an industry consensus standard rather than FAA airworthiness requirements. The accepted consensus standard is defined by ASTM International Technical Committee F37. Aircraft built to the consensus standard may be factory-built and sold with a special airworthiness certification (S-LSA) or may be assembled from a kit under the experimental rules (E-LSA) under experimental airworthiness. A company must have produced and certified at least one S-LSA in order to be permitted to sell E-LSA kits of the same model. E-LSA kits are not subject to the normal experimental amateur built (E-AB) requirement 14 CFR 21.191 which identifies an aircraft, the "major portion of which has been fabricated and assembled by persons who undertook the construction project solely for their own education or recreation."
- Max. gross takeoff weight: 1,320 lbs (600 kg) or 1,430 lbs for seaplanes (650 kg)
- Max. stall speed: 45 knots (83 km/h; 52 mph) CAS
- Max. speed in level flight (at sea level In the U.S. Standard Atmosphere): 120 knots (220 km/h; 140 mph) CAS
- Max. seats: two
- Max. engines / motors: one (if powered)
- Propeller: fixed-pitch or ground adjustable
- Cabin: unpressurized
- Fixed-pitch, semi-rigid, teetering, two-blade rotor system, if a gyroplane.
- Landing gear: fixed (except for seaplanes and gliders)
- Aircraft licensing
- Can be manufactured and sold ready-to-fly under a new special light sport aircraft certification category. Aircraft must meet industry 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 the aircraft has previously been operated as an ultralight but does not meet the FAR Part 103 definition of an ultralight vehicle. These aircraft must have been transitioned to E-LSA category no later than January 31, 2008.
- Will have a standard FAA registration - N-number.
- Category and class includes: airplane (land/sea), gyroplane, airship, balloon, weight-shift-control ("trike", land/sea), glider, and powered parachute.
- U.S. or foreign manufacture of light sport aircraft is authorized.
- Aircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate that meet above specifications may be flown by sport pilots. However, the aircraft must remain in standard category and cannot be changed to light sport aircraft category.
- May be operated at night if the aircraft is equipped per FAR 91.205, if such operations are allowed by the aircraft's operating limitations and the pilot holds at least a private pilot certificate and a minimum of a third-class medical.
Several different kinds of aircraft may be certificated as LSA. Airplanes (both powered and gliders), rotorcraft (gyroplanes only, not helicopters), powered parachutes, weight-shift control aeroplanes (commonly known as trikes), and lighter-than-air craft (free balloons and airships) may all be certificated as LSA if they fall within the weight and other guidelines established by the local governing authority.
The US definition of an LSA is similar to some other countries' definition of "microlight" or "ultralight" aircraft. Except for the LSA's relatively generous MTOW of 1320 pounds, the other countries' microlight definitions are typically less restrictive, not limiting airspeed or the use of variable-pitch propellers.
By contrast, the US FAA has a separate definition of ultralight aircraft defined in Federal Aviation Regulations. Aircraft falling within the US ultralight specifications are extremely lightweight (less than 254 pounds if powered, or 155 pounds if unpowered), are intended for operation by a single occupant, have a fuel capacity of five US gallons (about 19 litres) or less, a maximum calibrated airspeed of not more than 55 knots (102 km/h; 63 mph), and a maximum stall speed of not more than 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph). Ultralight aircraft in the US do not require pilot licensing, medical certification, or aircraft registration.
Aircraft certified as light-sport aircraft exceed the limitations defined for ultralight aircraft and require that the pilot possess, at a minimum, a sport pilot certificate. Among these aircraft were found those that were specifically designed to meet the LSA requirements, as well as overweight ultralights (commonly known as "fat ultralights") that previously were operated in technical violation of 14 CFR 103.
In addition to aircraft specifically designed to meet the LSA requirements, certain certificated aircraft, such as the original Piper Cub, happen to fall within the definition of a light-sport aircraft and can be operated by individuals holding FAA sport pilot certificates. The aircraft can not be re-certificated as LSA, however: although sport pilots may operate conventionally certificated aircraft that fall within the definition of an LSA, the aircraft themselves continue to be certificated in their original categories.
Several designers and manufacturers of experimental aircraft kits have developed models that are compliant with the light-sport aircraft rules.
In June 2012 the FAA indicated that they would re-visit the LSA program after their own studies indicated that "the majority" of LSA manufacturers they had inspected failed to show that they were in compliance with the standards. The FAA announcement said that as a result the "original policy of reliance on manufacturers' Statements of Compliance" ... "should be reconsidered." AOPA points out that this is a normal development of a maturing standard and does not expect any significant changes in the rules, only more scrutiny by FAA to assure compliance.
FAA certified models
Aircraft that met light-sport requirements when the rules were announced appear in FAA's list Some additional models of S-LSA, E-LSA and E-AB aircraft that meet light-sport requirements are listed here.
|Manufacturer||Design||Engine||Max. cruise||Max. range||Orders||Availability||Type|
|3Xtrim||3Xtrim Navigator 600||100 HP Rotax 912 S||104 kn (193 km/h)||747 NM||2008||Certified|
|Advanced Composites Solutions||ACS-100 Sora||120 kn (222 km/h)||Kit|
|Aeropro / fly-Aerotrek.com||Aerotrek A240 (tricycle gear) or A220 (taildragger) (EuroFox)||Rotax 912 A/ 912 S||115 kn (213 km/h)||570 NM (1056 km)||300+ sold||since 1990||Certified|
|Aeroprakt Manufacturing||A-22LS (tricycle gear)||Rotax 912UL, Rotax 912ULS or Rotax 912 iS||110 kn (210 km/h)||594 NM (950 km)||since 2016||Certified|
|AMD||Zodiac 650B (S-LSA)||Continental O-200 + Others||120 kn (222 km/h)||Certified|
|Aviasud Engineering||Aviasud Mistral||Rotax 582 DCDI||65 kn (120 km/h)||270 NM, 500 km||Certified|
|BOT Aircraft||SC07 Speed Cruiser||Rotax 912ULS or D-Motor LF26||116kn (215 km/h)||648NM (1,200 km)||2016||E-LSA, pending S-LSA certification|
|Breezer||Breezer||Rotax 912 UL2||96 kn (178 km/h)||497 NM (920 km)|
|CGS Aviation||Hawk Arrow II SLSA||Rotax 582, Rotax 912 F, HKS 700e, HKS 700T, Jabiru 2200||70 kn (130 km/h)||130 NM||170+ (since 1992)||2008||Certified|
|Cessna||Cessna 162||Continental O-200D||112 kn (207 km/h)||470 NM (870 km)||195 (Feb 2014). 80 in stock for spares||Since 2009 - discontinued Feb 2014||Certified|
|Cirrus Design||Cirrus SRS||Rotax 912 S||120 kn (222 km/h)||Unknown, project suspended||Certified|
|Comco Ikarus||Ikarus C42 (80 hp)||Rotax 912 F||105 kn 194 km/h||Certified|
|Cub Crafters||CubCrafters CC11-160 Carbon Cub SS||Titan 340CC, 180 HP||88 kn (163 km/h)||391 NM (724 km)||300+||2009||ELSA Kit/Certified|
|Czech Sport Aircraft||SportCruiser/PiperSport||Rotax 912 S||118 kn (218 km/h)||600 NM (1,111 km)||170+ delivered||Available since 2006||Certified|
|Czech Sport Aircraft/Wet Aero USA||CZAW Mermaid||Jabiru 3300 or Rotax 912S||110 kn (204 km/h)||450 NM (833 km)||2006||Certified|
|DOVA Aircraft||DV-1 SKYLARK||Rotax 912S||124,19kn (230 km/h)||539 NM (1000 km)||2004||Certified|
|Ekolot||Ekolot KR-030 Topaz||Rotax 912UL||119 kn (137 mph)||2010 (Poland)||LSA Certified|
|Europa Aircraft||Europa XS||Rotax 912 / 912 ULS / 914 or Jabiru Aircraft||120 kn (222 km/h)||750 NM||2009||Kit|
|FANTASY AIR||Allegro 2007||Rotax 912 F or 912 S||119 kn (220 km/h)||750 NM (1400 km)||2008||Certified|
|FK-Lightplanes||FK12 Comet||Rotax 912UL/ULS,||97 kn
|Flight Design||Flight Design CTsw: CTLS: CTLSi||Rotax 912S; Rotax 912iS||120 kn (222 km/h)||850 NM (1580 km)||350+||2005||Certified|
|Higher Class Aviation||Sport Hornet LRS||Rotax 912 F or Rotax 582||100 kn (185 km/h)||450 NM (833 km)||040+||2009||Certified|
|JIHLAVAN airplanes, s.r.o.||Skyleader 600||Rotax 912 100 hp & 115 hp||120 kn (222 km/h)||860 NM (1600 km)||Available||Certified|
|ICON Aircraft||ICON A5||Rotax 912 iS||105 kn (121 mph; 194 km/h)||300 nmi (345 mi; 556 km)||1500+||2015||FAA Approved|
|Kitfox Aircraft||Denney Kitfox||Rotax 912 S||109 kn (201 km/h)||530 NM (980 km)||4000+ (since 1984)||2008||ELSA Kit/Certified|
|Paradise Aircraft||Paradise P-1||100 HP, Rotax 912 S||120 kn (184 km/h)||747 NM (1385 km)||2008||Certified|
|Pipistrel||Pipistrel Sinus LSA||Rotax 912 80 hp||120 kn (222 km/h)||790 NM (1463 km)||1000+ (Sinus and Virus combined)||since 1995||Certified LSA Airplane & Glider RTF & Kit|
|Pipistrel||Pipistrel Virus LSA||Rotax 912 80 hp||120 kn (222 km/h)||790 NM (1463 km)||1000+ (Sinus and Virus combined)||since 1999||Certified LSA Airplane & Glider RTF & Kit|
|Pipistrel||Pipistrel Virus SW LSA||Rotax 912 80 hp & 100 hp||120 kn (222 km/h)||790 NM (1000 km)||1000+ (Sinus and Virus combined)||since 2008||Certified LSA Airplane & Glider RTF & Kit|
|Pipistrel||Pipistrel Taurus LSA||Rotax 503, 55 hp||120 kn (222 km/h)||150 NM (300 km)||since 2004||Certified LSA Glider RTF|
|Pipistrel||Pipistrel Alpha Trainer||Rotax 912 80 hp||120 kn (222 km/h)||790 NM (1000 km)||since 2012||Certified LSA Airplane RTF|
|Progressive Aerodyne||SeaRey Elite LSA||Rotax 914||91 kn (105 mph)||379 NM (436 mi; 609 km)||LSA Kit/Certified|
|Progressive Aerodyne||SeaRey Sport LSA||Rotax 912UL||80 kn (92 mph)||363 NM (418 mi; 584 km)||LSA Certified|
|Rainbow Aircraft (pty) ltd.||Cheetah XLS||Rotax 912 or Rotax 582 or Jabiru 2200A||83 kn (153 km/h)||450 NM (833 km)||100+||2001||ELSA Kit/Certified|
|Remos Aircraft||Remos G-3||Rotax 912 S, 100HP||120 kn (222 km/h)||550 NM / 1018 km||2007||Certified|
|Remos Aircraft||Remos GX||Rotax 912 S 100HP||115 kn (212 km/h)||450 NM (833 km)||Certified|
|Renegade Light Sport
originally T&T Aviation
|Falcon LS||Lycoming IO-233-LSA||112 kn
|Skyeton||Skyeton K-10 Swift||Rotax 912 S, 100HP||120 kn (222 km/h)||486 NM (900 km)||2006||Certified|
|SkyRunner, LLC.||SkyRunner MK 3.2||914 UL||35 kn (40 mph; 64 km/h)||120 nm||2016||FAA Approved / S-LSA|
|Sling Aircraft||Sling 2||Rotax 912 iS or 912 ULS||120 kn (222 km/h)||750 NM (1400 km)||320+||2010||Certified RTF & Kit|
|TL Ultralight||TL Ultralight TL-96 Star||Rotax 912 F||120 kn (222 km/h)||790 NM (1463 km)||70+||Available||Certified|
|Storm Aircraft||Storm Rally||Rotax 912 S||120 kn (222 km/h)||450 NM (830 km)||2004||Certified|
|Storm Aircraft||Storm Century||Rotax 912 S||120 kn (222 km/h)||450 NM (830 km)||2004||Certified|
|Tecnam Aircraft||Tecnam P2004||Rotax 912 S||116 kn (222 km/h)||100+||2005||Certified|
|Terrafugia||Terrafugia Transition||Rotax 912 S (when certified)||93 kn (107 mph)||450 nmi (520 mi)||100||2012||Experimental/Certification planned (As of April 2012[update])|
|Van's Aircraft||RV-12iS||Rotax 912 iS||117 kn (217 km/h)||564 NM (1046 km)||1000+||2008||ELSA Kit/Certified|
In June 2011, the European Aviation Safety Agency published CS-LSA "Certification Specifications for Light Sport Aeroplanes". This introduced a new category of manufactured sport aeroplanes similar to the light-sport category found in the USA and elsewhere.
A new certification category for 'Light Sport Aircraft' came into effect on 7 January 2006. This category does not replace the previous categories, but created a new category with the following characteristics:
- A maximum take-off weight of 600 kg (1,323 lb) or 650 kg (1,433 lb) for an aircraft intended and configured for operation on water or 560 kg (1,235 lb) for a lighter-than-air aircraft.
- A maximum stalling speed in the landing configuration (Vso) of 45 kn (83 km/h) CAS.
- Maximum of two occupants, including the pilot.
- A fixed landing gear. A glider may have retractable landing gear. (For an aircraft intended for operation on water, a fixed or repositionable landing gear)
- A single, non-turbine engine fitted with a propeller.
- A non-pressurised cabin.
- If the aircraft is a glider, a maximum never exceed speed (Vne) of 135 kn (250 km/h) CAS
Light-sport aircraft can be factory-manufactured aircraft or kits for amateur-building.
On 26 December 2022, Japan Civil Aviation Bureau amended the Circular of Aircraft Safety No.1-006 and clarified its own stance on LSA. The significant difference between Japan and other countries described above is that LSA in Japan is defined as a type of Experimental aircraft, i.e., non-certified aircraft, similar to amateur-built aircraft but rather than practical aircraft, i.e., certified aircraft. Permission for Test Flights etc. by Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is necessary to operate LSA in Japan as well as other non-certified aircraft. In order to operate the LSA in Japan, the aircraft, like other non-certified aircraft, requires permission for test flights, etc. from the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Because the LSA flight is nominally a test flight of an unknown experimental aircraft, the pilot may not have a license and the flight range is basically restricted to within 3 km of the takeoff/landing point avoiding residential areas. If the pilot of the LSA intends to fly outside of the above range or to land outside of the takeoff point, the pilot must have a Private Pilot license or a higher license and an effective aviation medical certificate. The required characteristics of LSA in Japan are modeled after those of S-LSAs in the United States. On the other hand, the E-LSA classification has not been introduced, so kit-built and plan-built LSAs are regarded as amateur-built aircraft. Imported LSA certified as CS-LSA is considered LSA on an exceptional basis, even if it does not meet the characteristics of LSA in Japan.
- Maximum gross takeoff weight: 1,320 lbs or 1,430 lbs for seaplanes
- Maximum speed in level flight: 120 kn CAS
- Maximum stall speed: 45 kn CAS
- Maximum seats: two
- Maximum engines: one (reciprocating engine only)
- Propeller: fixed-pitch or ground adjustable
- Cabin: unpressurized
- Landing gear: fixed (except for seaplanes)
- Other requirements： Designed, manufactured, and quality assured by manufacturer and complied to ASTM standards of LSA.
- CASA Advisory Circular AC 21-41(0): Light Sport Aircraft Certificate of Airworthiness retrieved 3 August 2011
- 14CFR1.1 Archived 11 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Pew, Glenn (29 June 2012). "FAA: SLSA Certification Should Be Reconsidered". AVweb. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- AOPA 2012 Archived 10 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Light Sport Aircraft: Existing Type Certificated Models
- "Skyleader 600 - metal two-seat".
- Synopsis: the Light Sport Aircraft category Archived 8 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- The Australian definition of a "light sport aircraft" is found in the Dictionary to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations.
- JCAB Circular of Aircraft Safety No.1-006 retrieved 29 December 2022
- "Light-Sport Aircraft". General Aviation & Recreational Aircraft. US Federal Aviation Administration.
- "Light-Sport Aircraft". Aviation Interests. Experimental Aircraft Association.
- "Frequently Asked Questions About Sport Pilot". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. 6 July 2007.
- "Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association".
- "Light sport aircraft". Searchable Light Aviation Database. LightPlanes.