Sport Pilots and Light Sport Aircraft

Sport Pilots and Light Sport Aircraft

Overview

AOPA's Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft Web page
This Web page is dedicated to recent AOPA articles and information regarding sport pilots and light sport aircraft. You will also find links for pertinent sport pilot documents; the sport pilot rule, sport pilot certification, practical test standards, aircraft registration, and others.

Sport Pilot for Student Pilots: Frequently Asked Questions

Sport Pilot for Certificated Pilots: Frequently Asked Questions

Ultralight Aircraft and Ultralight Pilots Transitioning to Sport Pilot
Certain ultralight vehicles will be required to be registered as a light sport aircraft by January 31, 2008. This guide provides historical information on ultralights and discusses their role in the future under the new sport pilot rule.

Special Light Sport Aircraft and Experimental Light Sport Aircraft: Frequently Asked Questions
This list of questions and answers clarifies the definition of Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA) and Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (ELSA), and provides guidance on certifying and registering a light sport aircraft, whether it's a homebuilt airplane, factory kit LSA, or factory-built LSA. You will also find guidance on who can perform maintenance on your LSA.

Light Sport Aircraft Manufacturers
From Aerostar to Zenith Aircraft, this ever-expanding list is a great place to locate the light sport aircraft of your dreams.

List of Eligible Aircraft
Many aircraft already meet the definition of light sport aircraft and can be used by sport pilots without needing any other category of aircraft certification. Find out if your Aeronca, Piper, Taylorcraft, Luscombe, or other aircraft meets the criteria for operating as a light sport aircraft.

AOPA Regulatory Brief
The Sport Pilot rule creates a new segment of the GA industry — sport pilots, light sport aircraft, and light sport aircraft repairmen. The rule has provisions for obtaining sport pilot student certificates, sport pilot certificates, flight instructor certificates with sport pilot rating, airworthiness criteria, and repairmen certificates with an inspector and/or maintenance rating. A significant benefit for AOPA members in the Sport Pilot rule is the ability to utilize a driver's license in lieu of a medical certificate. This allows pilots, who are otherwise healthy but who choose to not renew their medical certificate, to continue flying in light sport aircraft. This rule DOES NOT allow pilots to fly aircraft heavier than 1,320 pounds, such as Bonanzas and Cherokees, without medicals.

FAA Medical Q&A
When may I use my current and valid U.S. driver's license as medical qualification? What if I already hold a pilot certificate and a valid airman medical certificate? What if I have a lifelong, chronic medical condition and I have never applied for or held an FAA airman medical? What if I hold a Special Issuance? Find answers to these and other medically related sport pilot questions in this list of questions and answers.

Learning to Fly
AOPA's publication Learning to Fly discusses the necessary requirements for obtaining your FAA airman certificate. As part of this comprehensive guide, you'll find detailed information regarding aeronautical knowledge and flight training requirements to obtain your sport pilot certificate.

Related articles


Overview

The sport pilot certificate requires the fewest training hours of the three certificates and is a needed step forward to provide a lower cost alternative to the current private pilot certificate. Additionally, the sport pilot certificate could help many lapsed pilots return to flying and could have a positive effect on the cost of learning to fly, bringing new people into flying.

The sport pilot rule is designed to allow individuals to experience sport and recreational aviation in a manner that is safe for the intended operations but not overly burdensome.

A sport pilot applicant must have a total of 20 hours of flight time, including 15 hours of flight instruction, plus meet other training requirements such as a solo flight, practical test preparation, and aeronautical knowledge.

A sport pilot is limited to flying aircraft that meet certain criteria and also must comply with certain operating limitations.


Sport Pilot for Student Pilots: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first step I need to take to become a sport pilot?

You should first consider getting an FAA medical certificate or plan on using your current and valid U.S. driver's license. Additionally, you will need to get a student pilot certificate. Please see the information below for more details on the option you can choose:

FAA medical and the student pilot certificate:

  • Medical certificates, or "medicals" for short, are required for anyone other than a sport pilot who is acting as pilot in command. There are three kinds of medicals: first, second, and third class, each with its own requirements, duration, and privileges.
  • Usually the medical certificate and student pilot certificate are combined on one form, FAA Form 8420-2, and are issued by a doctor, called an aviation medical examiner (AME), who has been approved by the FAA to administer the medical exam.
  • The combination medical/student pilot certificate is easy to carry in your logbook, wallet, or purse and required to be in your possession when you fly solo. The difference between the regular medical certificate and the combination medical and student pilot certificate is that, on the back of the medical/student pilot certificate, there is space for the flight instructor's endorsements that are required for your solo flights.
  • A medical is not required for operations in a glider or balloon.
  • Overall, you should consider obtaining a medical prior to investing time and money into your flight training. It is best to find out sooner than later whether you're medically qualified to fly or not.
  • For more information, read AOPA's subject report, Pilot's Guide to Medical Certification.

Driver's license and the student pilot certificate:

  • The Sport Pilot rule allows a pilot to fly light sport aircraft without the need for an FAA medical certificate. However, a sport pilot must hold at least a current and valid U.S. driver's license in order to exercise this privilege. The only exceptions are for operations in a glider or balloon, which does not require a driver's license.
  • A person using a current and valid U.S. driver's license must comply with each restriction and limitation imposed by that person's U.S. driver's license and any judicial or administrative order applying to the operation of a motor vehicle. That person must also meet the requirements of 14 CFR 61.23(c)(2), which states the following:
    • Have been found eligible for the issuance of at least a third class airman medical certificate at the time of his or her most recent application (if the person has applied for a medical certificate);
    • Not have had his or her most recently issued medical certificate (if the person has held a medical certificate) suspended or revoked or most recent Authorization for a Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate withdrawn; and
    • Not know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make that person unable to operate a light sport aircraft in a safe manner.
  • A student pilot certificate, FAA Form 8710-2, can be obtained from your local flight standards district office (FSDO) or designated pilot examiner (DPE).

What are the sport pilot eligibility requirements?

  • For the sport pilot certificate, you must:
    • Be at least 17 years old (or 16 years old if you are applying to operate a glider or balloon).
    • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English.
    • Hold at least a third class medical, or hold a current and valid U.S. driver's license for operations in light sport aircraft other than a glider or balloon.

What are the training requirements for becoming a sport pilot?

  • Training requirements for a sport pilot certificate with airplane category —
    • A minimum of 20 hours flight time including:
      • 15 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor.
      • 5 hours solo flight.
    • Flight training must include at least:
      • 2 hours cross-country flight training.
      • 10 takeoffs and landings to a full stop.
      • One solo cross-country flight of at least 75 nautical miles total distance with a full-stop landing at a minimum of two points and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 25 nautical miles between takeoff and landing locations.
      • 3 hours flight training in preparation for the practical test.
      • Ground training from an instructor or home-study course.
    • FAA knowledge test on applicable aeronautical knowledge areas.
    • FAA practical test for the applicable light sport aircraft privilege.
    • Sport pilot certificates will be issued without category/class designation — logbook endorsement will be provided for category, class, make and model.
    • Two new category and class ratings for sport pilots —
      • Weight-shift-control, land and sea.
      • Powered parachute, land and sea.

What are the sport pilot privileges and limitations?

A sport pilot may:

  • Share the operating expenses of a flight with a passenger, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenses, or aircraft rental fees. A sport pilot must pay at least half the operating expenses of the flight.
  • A sport may not act as pilot in command of a light sport aircraft:
    • That is carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire.
    • For compensation or hire.
    • In furtherance of a business.
    • While carrying more than one passenger.
    • At night.
    • In Class A airspace.
    • In Class B, C, or D airspace, at an airport located in Class B, C, or D airspace, and to, from, through, or at an airport having an operational control tower unless you have received ground and flight training and a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor in accordance with 61.325 certifying you are authorized to exercise these privileges.
    • Outside the United States, unless you have prior authorization from the country in which you seek to operate. A sport pilot certificate carries the limitation "Holder does not meet ICAO requirements."
    • In a passenger-carrying airlift sponsored by a charitable organization.
    • At an altitude of more than 10,000 feet msl.
    • When the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles.
    • Without visual reference to the surface.
    • If the aircraft has a maximum forward speed in level flight that exceeds 87 knots CAS, unless having met the requirements of 61.327.
    • Contrary to any operating limitation placed on the airworthiness certificate of the aircraft being flown.
    • Contrary to any limitation or endorsement on your pilot certificate, airman medical certificate, U.S. driver's license, or any other limitation or logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor.
    • Contrary to any restriction or limitation on the sport pilot's U.S. driver's license or any restriction or limitation imposed by judicial or administrative order when using a driver's license to satisfy the requirements of Part 61.
    • While towing any object.
    • As a pilot flight crewmember on any aircraft for which more than one pilot is required by the type certificate of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted.

What types of airplanes can I fly?

There are currently more than 21,000 certified airplanes in the standard airworthiness category from seven manufacturers that qualify as light sport aircraft. Standard category airplanes you can fly include, but are not limited to:

  • Piper J-2 and J-3
  • Aeronca Champ
  • Luscombe 8, 8A, 8B, and 8C
  • Taylorcraft BC, BCS, and BC-65
  • Ercoupe 415C and 415 CD
  • Click here to see more standard category aircraft that qualify.

Additionally, you can find a list of light sport aircraft manufacturers by clicking here.

What is a light sport aircraft?

A light sport aircraft is defined as:

  • 1,320 pounds maximum takeoff weight for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or
  • 1,430 pounds maximum takeoff weight for aircraft intended for operation on water.
  • A maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (V H) of not more than 120 knots CAS under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level.
  • A maximum seating capacity of no more than two persons, including the pilot.
  • A single, reciprocating engine.
  • A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller if a powered aircraft other than a powered glider.
  • A nonpressurized cabin, if equipped with a cabin.
  • Maximum airspeed of 120 knots.
  • 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.
  • A maximum stalling speed or minimum steady flight speed without the use of lift-enhancing devices (V S1) of not more than 45 knots CAS at the aircraft's maximum certificated takeoff weight and most critical center of gravity.

Sport Pilot for Certificated Pilots: Frequently Asked Questions

I'm a certificated pilot without a medical. Can I fly as a sport pilot?

Yes. If you already hold at least a recreational pilot certificate and have allowed your medical to expire, you might be able to fly without an FAA medical certificate, even if your most recent medical was a special issuance. Here's what you need to qualify:

  • You must hold at least a recreational pilot certificate.
  • You must have a current, valid state-issued driver's license.
  • Your application for your last FAA medical certificate cannot have been denied.
  • Your most recent issued medical must not have been suspended or revoked.
  • If you held a Special Issuance Medical, it must not have been withdrawn.
  • You can't have a medical condition that makes you an unsafe pilot.
  • You must be able to self-certify that you are medically fit to fly.

For additional medical FAQs, click here.

What type of certification, recurrent training, and/or proficiency do I need?

As a certified pilot who qualifies to fly with a driver's license, you will need to have:

  • Category and class ratings for the aircraft being flown.
  • A current flight review in accordance with 14 CFR 61.56.
  • Recent flight experience if carrying a passenger.

Do I need to perform the flight review in a light sport aircraft?

No. According to 14 CFR 61.56, a flight review must be performed in an aircraft for which the pilot is rated. Rated is interpreted as category and class.

I've already started my flight training toward the private pilot requirements. Can I transfer that flight training time over to the sport pilot certificate requirements?

Yes, you may do this. The FAA has clearly expressed that a student pilot certificate is a student pilot certificate, regardless of which certificate you are pursuing. Keep in mind, however, that a student pilot seeking a sport pilot certificate may not solo in an aircraft or perform the checkride in an aircraft other than a light sport aircraft.

Do I need to perform a checkride to get an additional category and/or class rating?

No, a checkride is not required. Rather, you will need to follow the provisions of 14 CFR 61.321, which requires the following:

  • Receive a logbook endorsement for meeting aeronautical knowledge and flight proficiency requirements.
  • Complete a proficiency check from an authorized instructor other than the instructor who trained you on the aeronautical knowledge and areas of operation specified.
  • Complete an FAA Form 8710-11, Airmen Certificate and/or Rating Application, and present it to the instructor who conducted the proficiency check.
  • Receive a logbook endorsement from the instructor who conducted the proficiency check certifying that you are proficient in the applicable knowledge and areas of operation and that you are authorized for the additional category and class of light sport aircraft.

What kind of flying am I limited to as a certificated pilot flying under the sport pilot privilege?

A pilot who is exercising sport pilot privileges may share the operating expenses of a flight with a passenger, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenses, or aircraft rental fees. A sport pilot must pay at least half the operating expenses of the flight.

Recreational pilots:

In addition to complying with the recreational pilot privileges and limitations, a recreational pilot also may not operate a light sport aircraft:

  • That is carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire.
  • For compensation or hire.
  • In furtherance of a business.
  • While carrying more than one passenger.
  • At night.
  • In Class A airspace.
  • In Class B, C, or D airspace, at an airport located in Class B, C, or D airspace, and to, from, through, or at an airport having an operational control tower unless you have received ground and flight training and a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor in accordance with 61.325 certifying you are authorized to exercise these privileges.
  • Outside the United States, unless you have prior authorization from the country in which you seek to operate. A sport pilot certificate carries the limitation "Holder does not meet ICAO requirements."
  • In a passenger-carrying airlift sponsored by a charitable organization.
  • At an altitude of more than 10,000 feet msl.
  • When the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles.
  • Without visual reference to the surface.
  • If the aircraft has a maximum forward speed in level flight that exceeds 87 knots CAS, unless having met the requirements of 61.327.
  • Contrary to any operating limitation placed on the airworthiness certificate of the aircraft being flown.
  • Contrary to any limitation or endorsement on your pilot certificate, airman medical certificate, U.S. driver's license, or any other limitation or logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor.
  • Contrary to any restriction or limitation on the sport pilot's U.S. driver's license or any restriction or limitation imposed by judicial or administrative order when using a driver's license to satisfy the requirements of Part 61.
  • While towing any object.
  • As a pilot flight crewmember on any aircraft for which more than one pilot is required by the type certificate of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted.

Private, commercial, or airline transport pilots may not operate a light sport aircraft:

  • That is carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire.
  • For compensation or hire.
  • In furtherance of a business.
  • While carrying more than one passenger.
  • At night.
  • In Class A airspace.
  • Outside the United States, unless you have prior authorization from the country in which you seek to operate. A sport pilot certificate carries the limitation "Holder does not meet ICAO requirements."
  • In a passenger-carrying airlift sponsored by a charitable organization. (This requires the pilot in command to hold a valid and current medical)
  • At an altitude of more than 10,000 feet msl.
  • When the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles.
  • Without visual reference to the surface.
  • Contrary to any operating limitation placed on the airworthiness certificate of the aircraft being flown.
  • Contrary to any limitation or endorsement on your pilot certificate, airman medical certificate, U.S. driver's license, or any other limitation or logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor.
  • Contrary to any restriction or limitation on the sport pilot's U.S. driver's license or any restriction or limitation imposed by judicial or administrative order when using a driver's license to satisfy the requirements of Part 61.
  • While towing any object.
  • As a pilot flight crewmember on any aircraft for which more than one pilot is required by the type certificate of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted.

What types of airplanes can I fly?

There are currently more than 21,000 certified airplanes in the standard airworthiness category from seven manufacturers that qualify as light sport aircraft. Standard category airplanes you can fly include, but are not limited to:

  • Piper J-2 and J-3
  • Aeronca Champ
  • Luscombe 8, 8A, 8B, and 8C
  • Taylorcraft BC, BCS, and BC-65
  • Ercoupe 415C and 415 CD
  • Click here for the standard category aircraft that qualify.
  • Click here for a list of light sport aircraft manufacturers.

What is a light sport aircraft?

A light sport aircraft is defined as:

  • 1,320 pounds maximum takeoff weight for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or
  • 1,430 pounds maximum takeoff weight for aircraft intended for operation on water.
  • A maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (V H) of not more than 120 knots CAS under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level.
  • A maximum seating capacity of no more than two persons, including the pilot.
  • A single, reciprocating engine.
  • A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller if a powered aircraft other than a powered glider.
  • A nonpressurized cabin, if equipped with a cabin.
  • Maximum airspeed of 120 knots.
  • 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.
  • A maximum stalling speed or minimum steady flight speed without the use of lift-enhancing devices (V S1) of not more than 45 knots CAS at the aircraft's maximum certificated takeoff weight and most critical center of gravity.

What regulations cover the requirements for sport pilots?

14 CFR Part 61, Subpart J is entirely dedicated to sport pilot airman certification, privileges, and limitations.

What else can I do to prepare to fly as a sport pilot?

Take advantage of all the resources AOPA has to offer.

  • Visit AOPA Online. We've gathered all the information you need in one place.
  • If it has been a while since you've last flown, review AOPA's Guide to Getting Back Into Flying to find out what's changed.
  • Get insured. The AOPA Insurance Agency, the world's largest aviation insurance agency, is ready today to get you properly insured. Call 800/622-2672 or apply and purchase online.
  • Take an AOPA Air Safety Foundation online course. They provide refresher training on everything from runway signs to preflight briefings.
  • Read AOPA Pilot. You'll get technique, safety, and proficiency articles each month.
  • Protect yourself. The AOPA Legal Services Plan provides unlimited consultation on many aviation matters covered by the plan. For only $26 a year, you are protected when you need it. For more information, call 800/USA-AOPA.

If you still have questions, AOPA has the answers. Call AOPA's Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672) to talk for free with one of AOPA's technical experts on staff.

Ultralight Aircraft and Ultralight Pilots Transitioning to Sport Pilot

The advent of the new sport pilot rule introduced regulations for ultralights and ultralight pilots. The following information will explain the effects of the sport pilot rule on ultralight aircraft, both now and in the future.

First, however, let's look at some background information on ultralight aircraft and ultralight pilots.

Ultralight Aircraft

What is an ultralight?

A new regulation, 14 CFR Part 103, was introduced on October 4, 1982. This new regulation was introduced to ensure the safety of sport and recreational flying for "ultralight vehicles." While this rule introduces certain specifications and limitations for ultralight vehicles, it does not require aircraft or pilot certification. Whether an ultralight is kit-built or factory-built, Part 103 defines an ultralight as an aircraft that meets the following specifications:

  • Is used or intended to be used for flight by a single occupant.
  • Is used or intended to be used for recreational or sport purposes only.
  • Does not have an airworthiness certificate.
  • If unpowered, weighs less than 155 pounds.
  • If powered, weighs less than 254 pounds empty weight, excluding floats and safety devices that are intended for use in an emergency situation.
  • Has a fuel capacity not exceeding 5 U.S. gallons.
  • Is not capable of more than 55 knots at full power in level flight.
  • Has a power-off stall speed that does not exceed 24 knots.

What are the operating limitations of an ultralight?

  • Must be operated by visual reference with the surface.
  • No person may operate an ultralight between the hours of sunset and sunrise, except during the time period 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset only if the aircraft is equipped with an operating anticollision light visible for at least 3 statute miles and all operations are conducted in controlled airspace.
  • No person may operate an ultralight over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons.
  • No person may operate an ultralight within Class A, B, C or D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from the ATC facility having jurisdiction over that area. If that person has received authorization, that person must comply with the visibility and cloud clearance requirements specified in 103.23.
  • No person may operate an ultralight in prohibited or restricted areas unless that person has permission from the using or controlling agency, as appropriate.
  • No person may operate an ultralight in areas designated in a notice to airmen (notam) under 91.137, 91.141, 91.143 or 91.145 unless authorized by Air Traffic Control or a Flight Standards Certificate of Waiver or Authorization issued for the demonstration or event.
  • No person may operate an ultralight in a manner that creates a hazard to other persons or property.
  • No person may allow an object to be dropped from an ultralight if such action creates a hazard to other persons or property.

Why are ultralights limited to single-occupant operations only?

A person who decides to operate an ultralight vehicle is most likely aware of the risks involved, but the same might not hold true for the passenger. Therefore, a passenger is not allowed to be carried on board.

What about ultralights that provide for more than one occupant or have a bench seat?

Some ultralights were originally manufactured with bench seats with only one seatbelt but have been advertised as two-place ultralights. These ultralights are not eligible for operations under Part 103 and must be registered as a certificated aircraft, even when occupied by only one person. At least one occupant during two-occupant operations must hold at least a private pilot certificate. A two-seat ultralight may be used for training purposes only if an exemption has been granted by an FAA-recognized ultralight organization.

Am I required to register my single-occupant ultralight as a light sport aircraft?

No. Only two-seat ultralights, or "fat," ultralights (those that exceed the limitations of Part 103) are required to register as a light sport aircraft by January 31, 2008. Single-occupant ultralights that meet the definition of Part 103 are not affected by the sport pilot rule.

Why are two-seat, or "fat," ultralights required to be registered as a light sport aircraft?

Two-seat, or "fat," ultralights do not meet the definition of Part 103 ultralights. The sport pilot rule now provides the requirement to have these ultralights registered, inspected, and certificated as a light sport aircraft by January 31, 2008.

How do I register my light sport aircraft that has not been issued a U.S. airworthiness certificate and does not meet the definition of Part 103.1?

Submit the following to the FAA:

  • A letter requesting a registration number for first-time registration.
  • Form 8050-1, Aircraft Registration Application.
  • Form 8050-2, Aircraft Bill of Sale, OR Form 8050-88A, Affidavit of Ownership, signed in ink by the owner/applicant.
  • *Evidence of ownership for the parts or the manufacturer's kit, if available.
  • $5 registration fee.
  • If applying for a special N number, please visit the FAA's Web site.
  • *If the evidence of ownership cannot be supplied, you must submit an affidavit as to why it's not available. For the convenience of the applicant, this information may be provided on the AC Form 8050-88A.

Take advantage of AOPA's Express Document Submission Service or call 800/872-2672 for more details.

How do I certificate my light sport aircraft that does not meet the provisions of 14 CFR Part 103?

  • Prepare a weight and balance report for your aircraft.
  • Install an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) on all two-seat airplanes (powered parachutes and weight-shift not required); single-seat is optional.
  • Prepare your light sport aircraft for inspection.
  • Contact the FAA or a designated airworthiness representative.
  • Aircraft must be registered.
  • Submit a properly executed FAA Form 8130-6, Application for Airworthiness Certificate.
  • Aircraft must be marked in accordance with 14 CFR Part 45.
  • Mailing address: FAA Aircraft Registration Branch, AFS-750, P.O. Box 25504, Oklahoma City, OK 73125.

If the above conditions are met, the FAA will issue:

  • FAA Form 8130-7, Airworthiness Certificate, Experimental.
  • Aircraft Operating Limitations.
  • A flight test area.

Take advantage of AOPA's Express Document Submission Service or call 800/872-2672 for more details.

Will the light sport aircraft category replace Part 103 aircraft?

No, single-place ultralights will remain Part 103, but two-place ultralights will be affected. All two-place ultralights will be required to be registered as light sport aircraft by January 31, 2008.

I built the ultralight I'm currently flying. Can it be certificated as an experimental amateur-built or does it have to be an experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA)?

If you built 51 percent of your aircraft, the aircraft meets the requirements to apply for certification as an experimental amateur-built aircraft. Keep in mind, however, that once the aircraft is certificated as an experimental-amateur built, it cannot be certificated later as an experimental (ELSA) or special light sport aircraft (SLSA). The aircraft remains an experimental amateur-built aircraft.

What are the important dates to remember for aircraft?

  • January 31, 2008. Fat ultralights and two-seat ultralight trainers need to be registered as light sport aircraft.
  • January 31, 2008. The FAA issued ultralight training exemptions allowing BFIs to use two-seaters for training expires (EAA, ASC, USUA).
  • January 31, 2008. The FAA will not issue any experimental light sport airworthiness certificates, under 21.191(i)(1), after January 31, 2008.
  • January 31, 2010. End of transition period, where existing experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA) trainers can be used for compensation or hire.

Ultralight Pilots

Are there special provisions for obtaining a sport pilot certificate for persons who are registered ultralight pilots with an FAA-recognized organization?

If you are a registered ultralight pilot with an FAA-recognized ultralight organization, use the information provided in 14 CFR 61.329 to determine how to get a sport pilot certificate.

Are there any special provisions for obtaining a flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating for persons who are registered ultralight instructors with an FAA-recognized ultralight organization?

If you are an ultralight instructor and were registered with an FAA-recognized ultralight organization on or before September 1, 2004, and you want to apply for a flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating, not later than January 31, 2008 —

  • You must hold either a current and valid sport pilot certificate, a current recreational pilot certificate and meet the requirements § 61.101(c), or at least a current and valid private pilot certificate issued under this Part.
  • You must meet the eligibility requirements in §§ 61.403 and 61.23. You do not have to meet the aeronautical knowledge requirements specified in § 61.407, the flight proficiency requirements specified in § 61.409 and the aeronautical experience requirements specified in § 61.411, except you must meet the minimum total flight time requirements in the category and class of light sport aircraft specified in §61.411.
  • You do not have to meet the aeronautical knowledge requirement specified in §61.407(a) if you have passed an FAA-recognized ultralight organization's fundamentals of instruction knowledge test.
  • You must submit a certified copy of your ultralight pilot records from the FAA-recognized ultralight organization. Those records must —
  • Document that you are a registered ultralight flight instructor with that FAA-recognized ultralight organization; and
  • Indicate that you are recognized to operate and provide training in the category and class of aircraft for which you seek privileges.
  • You must pass the knowledge test and practical test for a flight instructor certificate with a sport pilot rating applicable to the aircraft category and class for which you seek flight instructor privileges.

How long do I have to get my sport pilot certificate using only my ultralight experience?

For ultralight pilots, the first really important date is January 31, 2007. That is the deadline date for those who are members of an FAA-recognized ultralight organization to take advantage of using whatever ultralight flying time they have to qualify to become a sport pilot. The pilot has until this date to take the sport pilot practical test if the pilot wants previous ultralight flight time to count toward the required sport pilot flight experience.

I am an ultralight pilot who does not hold any FAA pilot certificate, and I am not registered with an FAA-recognized ultralight organization. How will the sport pilot rule affect me?

You will need to become a sport pilot by meeting all the requirements of 14 CFR Part 61. Here is a summary of the requirements:

The FAA has made substantive revisions to the sport pilot medical provisions, which disallow the use of a driver's license as a medical standard for medically disqualified pilots.

  • 14 CFR 61.23 only permits using a current and valid U.S. driver's license as evidence of medical qualification based on the following conditions:
    • If a person has applied for an airman medical certificate, that person must have been found eligible for the issuance of at least a third class airman medical certificate.
    • If a person has held an airman medical certificate, that person's most recently issued airman medical certificate must not have been revoked or suspended.
    • If a person has been granted an authorization (special issuance), that authorization must not have been withdrawn.
  • In addition, the rule explicitly states that a pilot may not use a current and valid U.S. driver's license in lieu of a valid airman medical certificate if the pilot knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make that person unable to operate a light sport aircraft in a safe manner. This reiterates the requirement of § 61.53. The determination as to whether a pilot has a medical condition that would make him or her unable to operate the aircraft in a safe manner is the sole responsibility of the pilot. The ability to certify no known medical conditions that would prohibit the safe operation of an aircraft is a matter about which a pilot should consult his or her personal physician.
  • Training requirements for a sport pilot certificate with airplane category —
    • A minimum of 20 hours flight time including:
      • 15 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor.
      • 5 hours solo flight.
      • Flight training must include at least:
      • 2 hours cross-country flight training.
      • 10 takeoffs and landings to a full stop.
      • One solo cross-country flight of at least 75 nautical miles total distance with a full-stop landing at a minimum of two points and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 25 nautical miles between takeoff and landing locations.
      • 3 hours flight training in preparation for the practical test.
      • Ground training from an instructor or home-study course.
      • FAA knowledge test on applicable aeronautical knowledge areas.
      • FAA practical test for the applicable light sport aircraft privilege.

What are important dates to remember for ultralight pilots?

  • January 31, 2007. The ultralight pilot has until this date to take the sport pilot practical test if the pilot wants previous ultralight flight time to count toward the required sport pilot flight experience.
  • January 31, 2008. Deadline for an ultralight instructor to take the practical test for sport pilot instructor and still receive credit for previous ultralight instructing experience.
  • January 31, 2008. The FAA issued ultralight training exemptions for FAA-recognized ultralight organizations allowing basic flight instructors (BFIs) to use two-seaters for training expires.

Light Sport Aircraft: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I fly a special light sport aircraft (SLSA) in IFR conditions or at night?

Only day/VFR conditions are specifically addressed in the ASTM consensus standards that govern the production of SLSA. Being that sport pilots and those exercising sport pilot privileges are limited to flying only in day/VFR conditions, this seems appropriate.

On the other hand, if an appropriately rated pilot (example: private pilot with an instrument rating) wants to fly SLSA under IFR or at night, the aircraft's operating limitations must allow it, and the aircraft must be equipped per 91.205 for VFR flight at night and/or IFR flight. Additionally, 91.327(d) requires all SLSA to be operated in accordance with the aircraft's operating instructions. Operating instructions differ from operating limitations in that the engine, airframe, and accessory manufacturers issue them; the FAA issues operating limitations.

An example of operating instructions is a SLSA equipped with a Rotax engine. Rotax's operating instructions prohibit the use of a Rotax engine at night or in IFR conditions unless it is the FAA type certificated engine (14 CFR part 33). Other engine, airframe, and accessory manufacturers might impose similar restrictions.

If you are appropriately rated and would like to operate a special light sport aircraft at night or under IFR, contact the manufacturer to determine if any provisions can be made.

Do I need to obtain an STC (supplemental type certificate) if I want to install a different prop or add a new radio to my SLSA?

No. An STC is not required because SLSA do not have type certificate data sheets (TSDS). Any maintenance that leads to a modification of the original airplane equipment or avionics requires approval by the airplane manufacturer.

Where can I go to obtain a light-sport aircraft repairman certificate with a maintenance rating (LS-M)?

At the time of this writing, the FAA has not accepted or approved any courses from providers that would lead to this certificate. The FAA is meeting with industry representatives to revise their policy on the acceptance of repairman/maintenance rating courses to remove any obstacles that have prevented providers from submitting courses for FAA approval.

AOPA will update this Web page as soon as we receive knowledge of an FAA-approved repairman/maintenance rating course.

What is the difference between an experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA) and a special light sport aircraft (SLSA)?

  • ELSA — An aircraft that does not meet the definition of Part 103; has been assembled from an aircraft kit produced by a light sport aircraft manufacturer. Kits assembled under this category are not required to meet the 51 percent homebuilt regulation.
  • SLSA — These are aircraft manufactured in accordance with industry consensus standards (ASTM) as a light sport aircraft in the United States or in a foreign country in accordance with 14 CFR 21.190 and sold as ready-to-fly aircraft.

Does a light sport aircraft have a type certificate?

No. SLSA and ELSA are not type certificated. Rather, they are issued a statement of compliance with industry standards.

Why did the FAA choose to use ASTM standards instead of type certification?

ASTM standards are much easier to augment or amend as opposed to the FAA's rulemaking process and provide a high level of quality control and safety into light sport aircraft manufacturing. A light sport aircraft committee, namely F37, was set up to address issues related to design, performance, quality acceptance tests, and safety monitoring for light sport aircraft (LSA). For more information on the F37 Light Sport Aircraft Committee, please visit the ASTM Web site.

Will airworthiness directives (ADs) be issued for light sport aircraft?

ADs will not be issued for LSA. However, mandatory service bulletins (SBs) will be issued for light sport aircraft. For SLSA, compliance with these bulletins is required. For ELSA, compliance is only recommended.

Can I use an experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA) for flight training and rental?

According to 14 CFR 91.319(e), the instructor is allowed to conduct flight training in an ELSA, which he or she provides, until January 31, 2010. Rental of the aircraft is not allowed.

Can I use a special light sport aircraft (SLSA) for flight training and rental?

According to 14 CFR 91.327, you may, for compensation or hire, operate an SLSA to conduct flight training. You may also rent an SLSA.

Who may perform maintenance on special light sport aircraft?

  • The holder of a repairman certificate (light sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating within the class of light sport aircraft for which he or she is rated.
  • An appropriately rated mechanic.
  • An appropriately rated repair station.
  • Sport pilots may perform preventive maintenance and return to service a Special Light Sport Aircraft that he or she owns.

Who may perform inspections on special light sport aircraft?

  • The holder of a repairman certificate (light sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating within the class of light sport aircraft for which he or she is rated.
  • An appropriately rated mechanic.
  • An certificated repair station (light sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating.

Who may perform maintenance on experimental light sport aircraft?

According to 14 CFR 65.107, the holder of a repairman certificate (light sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating may perform maintenance, preventive maintenance, and an alteration on a light sport aircraft that is in the same class of light sport aircraft for which the holder has completed the training required by 61.107(a)(3)(ii).

Who may perform the annual condition inspection on experimental light sport aircraft?

  • The holder of a repairman certificate (light sport aircraft) with an inspection rating may perform this inspection only on the aircraft he or she owns.
  • The holder of a repairman certificate (light sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating within the class of light sport aircraft for which he or she is rated.

Who may perform the 100-hour inspection on ELSA if the aircraft is being used to conduct flight training for compensation or hire or for towing a glider that is an LSA or unpowered ultralight vehicle?

  • The holder of a repairman certificate (light sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating within the class of light sport aircraft for which he or she is rated.
  • An appropriately rated mechanic.
  • An appropriately rated repair station.

What regulations cover the privileges and limitations for repairman certificate holders for light sport aircraft?

You may find this information in 14 CFR Part 65.

Experimental Amateur-Builts

Can I fly an experimental amateur-built (homebuilt) aircraft as a sport pilot?

Yes, as long as the aircraft meets the performance definition of a light sport aircraft as defined in 14 CFR 1.1.

I have built or plan on building an experimental amateur-built aircraft that meets the definition of light sport aircraft (LSA). How does the sport pilot rule affect me?

  • The aircraft remains an experimental amateur-built aircraft. You cannot change the aircraft airworthiness certificate to SLSA or ELSA.
  • You can modify your aircraft (if you're the manufacturer) to meet the definition of LSA.
  • You may operate as pilot in command of the aircraft as a light sport aircraft if you hold a sport pilot certificate or are exercising sport pilot privileges.

I built the aircraft that I'm currently flying. Can I certificate it as experimental amateur-built or does it have to be an experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA)?

If you built 51 percent of your aircraft, the aircraft meets the requirements to apply for certification as an experimental amateur-built aircraft. Keep in mind, however, that once the aircraft is certificated as an experimental amateur built it cannot be certificated later as an experimental (ELSA) or special light sport aircraft (SLSA). The aircraft remains an experimental amateur-built aircraft. Additionally, in order for an aircraft to be registered as a light sport aircraft, it must meet the LSA criteria (i.e., two seats, one engine, 1,320 pounds maximum gross weight, etc.). An experimental amateur-built is not subject to these limitations.

Does the 51-percent homebuilt rule apply to me if I buy an ELSA kit?

There are two situations to discuss here:

  1. If you plan on registering your aircraft as an experimental amateur built aircraft, then the 51-percent homebuilt rule still applies.
  2. If you bought an ELSA kit and plan on registering your aircraft as an experimental light sport aircraft, then the 51-percent homebuilt rule does not apply. Manufacturers of ELSA kits may build as little as 1 percent and as much as 99 percent of the kit before you purchase it. However, in order for you to perform the annual condition inspection, you must have a light sport aircraft repairman certificate with an inspection or maintenance rating.

I'm building an aircraft (experimental amateur-built) that is just outside the definition of an LSA. Can I, as the builder, modify the aircraft so that it meets the performance definition of an LSA and fly it as a sport pilot?

Yes. For a homebuilt aircraft, you may modify the aircraft so that it meets the definition of an LSA from initial certification on and fly it as a sport pilot. Exercise caution against making any modifications to the structure of the aircraft without the approval of the designer.

Can I change the weight of an experimental amateur-built that I have built so it meets the 1,320-pound limit for light sport aircraft?

As the builder of a home-built airplane that has yet to receive its experimental airworthiness certificate, you may decrease or increase the weight as necessary to have the airplane meet the definition of light sport aircraft, which is defined as having a maximum gross weight of 1,320 pounds. However, once a weight limit has been set as part of the airplane's experimental amateur-built certification process, the original builder, future owners, and repairmen are prohibited from making any modifications to the weight for the purpose of meeting the definition of light sport aircraft.

Light Sport Aircraft Manufacturers

Manufacturer Name of Aircraft
Aerostar of Romania Festival
Atec Atec Faeta
Aveo USA SportRider
B Bar D Aviation Fantasy Air Allegro 2000

Comco Ikarus

Breezer
C42
CubCrafters Sport Cub

Czech Aircraft Works

Parrot
Mermaid
Sport Cruiser
Fk Lightplanes FK-9 Mark IV
Flight Design USA CT
Indus Aviation T211 Thorpedo
Inziative Industriali Italiane Sky Arrow Sport

JabiruUSA Sport Aircraft, LLC

J250
J170
Calypso
Just Aircraft Highlander
Kappa Aircraft KP5
Legend Aircraft Corporation AL3C-100 Cub
Luscombe-Silvaire Aircraft Company Silvaire LSA-8
North American Sport Aviation Savage
Prestige Aircraft Company Rally
Rans Aircraft S-7LS
Rollison Light Sport Aircraft, Inc. Aeropro CZ Eurofox
Skykits Savannah
Sport Aircraft International Evektor Sport Star
SportairUSA, LC Sting Sport
Taylorcraft Taylorsport

Tecnam

Bravo
Sierra
Echo Super
Zenith Aircraft Company CH601 Zodiac XL

Updated Thursday, November 16, 2006