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FAA Sport Pilot Rule

This is a synopsis of the definition of a light sport aircraft category, the requirements to obtain a sport pilot certificate, and requirements to obtain a repairman certificate with a maintenance or inspection rating. View the complete FAA regulation

The Light Sport Aircraft Rule:
The FAA defines a light sport aircraft as an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:

Max. Gross Takeoff Weight

1,320 lbs (1,430 lbs for seaplanes)

Max. Stall Speed

51 mph / 45 knots CAS

Max. Speed in Level Flight (VH)

138 mph / 120 knots CAS

Seats

Two (max.)

Engines / Motors

One (max. if powered.)

Propeller

Fixed-pitch or ground adjustable

Cabin

Unpressurized

Landing Gear

Fixed (except for seaplanes and gliders)

In addition, light sport aircraft:

  • 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.

The Sport Pilot Rule:

A sport pilot may exercise flight privileges in one or more of the following aircraft categories:

  • Airplane (single-engine only)
  • Glider
  • Lighter-than-air (airship or balloon)
  • Rotorcraft (gyroplane only)
  • Powered Parachute
  • Weight-Shift control aircraft(e.g. Trikes)

The sport pilot rule:

  • Creates a new student sport pilot certificate.
  • Creates a new sport pilot flight instructor certificate.
  • Requires FAA knowledge (written) and practical (flight) tests.
  • Credits sport pilot flight time toward more advanced pilot ratings.
  • Requires either a 3rd class FAA medical certificate or a current and valid U.S. driver’s license as evidence of medical eligibility (provided the individual's most recent application for an FAA medical certificate was not denied, revoked, suspended or withdrawn).
  • Does not allow carrying passengers for compensation or hire.
  • Does not allow flights in furtherance of business.
  • Allows sharing (“pro-rata”) operating expenses with another pilot or passenger.
  • Allows daytime flight only.
  • Allow sport pilots to fly vintage and production aircraft (standard airworthiness certificate) that meet the definition of a light sport aircraft.

Sport Pilot Flight Instructors

The sport pilot/light sport aircraft rule:

  • Created a new sport pilot flight instructor certificate.
  • Allows current CFIs to train sport pilots.

Repairmen Certificates

The sport pilot/light sport aircraft rule created a new Light Sport Repairmen certificate - with either a maintenance or inspection rating. To earn an FAA repairman certificate of any type, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Speak, read, and understand English.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
  • Demonstrate the requisite skill to determine whether an E-LSA or S-LSA is in a condition for safe operation.
    • For an Inspection rating: complete a 16 hour course on the inspection requirements of the particular class of light sport aircraft.
    • For a Maintenance rating: complete a course - 120 hours (airplane category); 104 hours (weight shift or powered parachute); 80 hours (glider or lighter-than-air) - on the maintenance and inspection requirements of the particular class of light sport aircraft.

Other LSA Maintenance Options

The annual condition inspection on special light sport airworthiness certificated aircraft can be completed by:

  • An appropriately rated mechanic - that is, A&P.
  • An appropriately rated repair station.
  • A light sport repairman with a maintenance rating.

Regular maintenance can be performed by a certificated pilot (Sport Pilot rating or higher).

The annual condition inspection on experimental light sport airworthiness certificated aircraft can be completed by:

  • An appropriately rated mechanic - that is, an A&P.
  • An appropriately rated repair station.
  • A light sport repairman with a maintenance rating.
  • A light sport repairman with an inspection rating (only on aircraft you own).

No rating is required to perform maintenance on experimental light sport airworthiness certificated aircraft.

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