EASA certifies first three light aircraft under new rules

June 7, 2012

European regulators have certified three aircraft under a newly created category that is similar to the light sport aircraft (LSA) category used in the United States.

The European Aviation Safety Agency announced June 4 that the Czech Sport Aircraft PS-28 Cruiser, the Flight Design CTLS-ELA, and the Evektor SportStar RTC are the first three models certified for European use under the new category. Other aircraft are expected to follow, and EASA is working to further refine the certification requirements imposed.

General Aviation Manufacturers Association Director of Engineering and Manufacturing Greg Bowles said the new regulation creates a European certification standard similar in many respects to the ASTM standard applied in the United States, with a 1,320-pound weight limit and two-seat limit. The key difference, Bowles said, is U.S. light sport manufacturers are able to conduct flight tests and other validation procedures without direct supervision by regulators or their designees at each phase of the process. In Europe, while the new standards for light aircraft certification are less cumbersome—and costly to comply with—than the standard for aircraft with a gross weight above 1,320 pounds, light sport certification remains in Europe similar to Part 23 certification in the United States, with active participation by regulators required as tests are conducted.

“This is kind of an interim step,” Bowles said. “It’s not the golden solution.”

Applying the ASTM standard to light aircraft worldwide remains the “golden solution” sought by GAMA and others in the industry.

“We think that would be a great benefit to Europe,” Bowles said, noting that such a change would require action by European lawmakers. “It’s a legal issue in Europe: They need to change their law to allow that to happen.”

Jim Moore

Jim Moore | Online Associate Editor, AOPA

AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.