Light Sport Aircraft - Aircraft Manufacturers and Aircraft Models

According to Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, a light-sport aircraft is defined as a simple-to-operate, easy-to-fly aircraft that meets the following performance definitions:

  • Maximum gross weight of 1,320 pounds for landplanes and 1,430 pounds for seaplanes.
  • Maximum stall speed of 45 knots calibrated airspeed (51 miles per hour).
  • Maximum speed in level flight with maximum continuous power of 120 knots calibrated airspeed (138 miles per hour).
  • Fixed or ground adjustable propeller.
  • Fixed landing gear for landplanes and retractable landing gear for seaplanes.
  • Single reciprocating (piston) engine.
  • One- or two-person occupancy (pilot and one passenger).
  • Unpressurized cabin.

In addition to the common fixed-wing models, the light-sport aircraft category also embraces other ultralight aircraft like powered parachutes (PPC), weight-shift control aircraft (e.g. hang gliders and trikes), balloons, airships, heavier-than-air gliders, and gyrocopters.

To pilot a light-sport aircraft, a pilot must receive an inspection rating by completing 16 hours of coursework for the specific class of light-sport aircraft they desire to fly. The pilot must also obtain a maintenance rating by completing 120 hours (airplane), 104 hours (weight-shift control or powered parachute), or 80 hours (glider or lighter-than-air) of coursework for the desired class of aircraft.

There are also various restrictions for flying light-sport aircraft. Sport pilots are not allowed to conduct flights to further business operations, and are not permitted to transport passengers for a fee. Also, sport pilots may only fly during daylight hours. A company is only considered a manufacturer of a light-sport aircraft if it controls all of the design, manufacturing, quality, and continued airworthiness of the aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration encourages manufacturers and operators of light-sport aircraft to outfit their planes with parachute recovery systems and inflatable restraints to enhance the safety of the aircraft during operations.

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