Light Aircraft Association

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Light Aircraft Association
Light Aircraft Association Logo.jpg
Type Not for profit
Founded 1946, as the Ultralight Aircraft Association
Headquarters Turweston Aerodrome, Brackley, Northants, United Kingdom
Membership Individuals and companies
Field Aviation advocacy
Number of Members 8,000 (2011)
Key Personnel Patron: Prince Michael of Kent
President: Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Sir John Allison KCB, CBE, FRAeS, RAF[1]

The Light Aircraft Association is the representative body in the United Kingdom for amateur aircraft construction, and recreational and sport flying. It oversees the construction and maintenance of homebuilt aircraft, under an approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).[2]

The LAA was formerly known as the Popular Flying Association and before that the Ultralight Aircraft Association,

LAA Permit regime[edit]

The regime for approving amateur-built aircraft in the United Kingdom differs from that in many other countries, of which the United States is the prime example. Instead of the FAA's Experimental airworthiness category, under which an amateur may design, build and operate (and is ultimately responsible for) an aircraft 'for experimental purposes', the UK CAA is required to investigate any such aircraft's 'fitness to fly' and to issue a 'Permit to Fly' when satisfied. The LAA is approved by the CAA to make recommendations for and to revalidate such Permits. Aircraft on a LAA Permit may not be operated commercially and are at present limited to Day / VFR operation. There are also nominal limits on the number of seats (four) and on maximum take-off weight (2500 lbs), power (260HP) and stalling speed (70 mph). The Permit is valid only in UK airspace unless by agreement with another State, which is normally obtainable for countries in the European Union and many outside it. The Permit has to be renewed annually after the aircraft has been inspected by an inspector appointed by the LAA.[3]

The LAA's remit extends to homebuilt autogyros but not to helicopters. Factory-built classic and vintage aircraft that are no longer supported by their manufacturer have difficulty obtaining a Certificate of Airworthiness, and in such cases the CAA may transfer the type to LAA Permit.[4]

The LAA's remit does not extend to microlights, which are covered by the BMAA. The BMAA's remit substantially overlaps with that of the LAA; but occasional proposals for the merger of the two associations have met with considerable resistance, mainly from the BMAA's majority membership of 2-axis microlight pilots.[citation needed]


The association was formed in 1946 as the Ultralight Aircraft Association and took on the name Popular Flying Association in 1949. Initially, and still primarily, an engineering organisation for approving designs for homebuilding and regulating their construction and maintenance, it is now also active in encouraging sport and recreational flying and campaigning for a regulatory regime that will provide as little restriction as possible, consistent with safety, for the construction and operation of homebuilt aircraft and Classic and Vintage factory built aircraft that can no longer hold a full Certificate of Airworthiness. Membership in 2011 was around 8,000.[2]

It publishes a monthly full-colour member magazine, "Light Aviation" (formerly "Popular Flying") and holds its annual Rally at Sywell Aerodrome on the first weekend in September, probably the largest gathering of light aircraft outside the USA.[2]

It has a network of Member Clubs (known as "Struts") throughout the UK, each providing a geographically centred social focus for LAA members, to which members of the public are warmly welcomed. There are also a number of Type Clubs, catering to members who are constructing or operating certain aircraft types.[2]

The Association changed its name to the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) on 1 January 2008, along with the name change to the association's monthly journal.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Light Aircraft Association (n.d.). "Who's Who At the LAA". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d Light Aircraft Association (2011). "About Us". Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Welcome to the Light Aircraft Association". Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  4. ^ An example being the ARV Super2.

External links[edit]