The FAA has released a new document on its website entitled “Light-Sport Aircraft Airworthiness Certification – Special Considerations for Special Airworthiness Certificates.”
The document covers issues and topics potential buyers should know about when purchasing a special light sport aircraft (SLSA) or experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA).
“It is important for members to understand the differences between light sport aircraft and type certificated aircraft,” said David Oord, AOPA’s manager of regulatory affairs. “They can sometimes appear to look similar but their design and certification basis is different.”
AOPA is an active participant in light sport certification, serving on the executive committee of ASTM F37 on light sport aircraft and chairing its terminology subcommittee. AOPA is committed to the success of the light sport category, the use of industry consensus standards, and their effect on increasing safety while reducing costs and complexity of certification.
The FAA document covers several areas of light-sport certification through a Q&A format, asking questions like, “What do I need to consider before purchase of an SLSA?” “What are my specific responsibilities as an owner of an SLSA?” and “Who can perform maintenance and inspections on SLSA?” These are all questions a potential buyer must fully understand before purchasing any aircraft, regardless of certification.
“It’s important for members to understand the role a light-sport manufacturer has regarding the continued operational safety (COS) of its aircraft,” Oord said. “Unlike type certificated aircraft, the FAA does not review, test, or approve a light sport aircraft design, does not provide continued operational safety oversight, and does not issue airworthiness directives. Although this increases the responsibilities of the manufacturer, the certification process for light-sport aircraft affords them the needed latitude to innovate with new designs and equip them with safety enhancing technology more easily while significantly reducing the costs and complexities of certification.”