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Sport Pilot Rule Synopsis

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    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. More complete details can be found in the appropriate sections of the Sport Pilot web site.

Light-Sport Aircraft:

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:

  • Maximum gross takeoff weight—1,320 lbs, or 1,430 lbs for seaplanes.
  • Maximum stall speed—51 mph (45 knots) CAS
  • Maximum speed in level flight with maximum continuous power (Vh)—138 mph (120 knots) CAS
  • Single or two-seat aircraft only
  • Single, reciprocating engine (if powered), including rotary or diesel engines
  • Fixed or ground-adjustable propeller
  • Unpressurized cabin
  • Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft intended for operation on water or a glider
  • 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 be transitioned to E-LSA category no later than January 31, 2008.
  • Will have FAA registration—N-number.
  • Aircraft 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. Holders of a sport pilot certificate may fly an aircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate if it meets the definition of a light-sport aircraft.
  • 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) test.
  • 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.
  • 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 new sport pilot/light-sport aircraft rule:

  • Creates new sport pilot flight instructor certificate.
  • Allows current CFI’s to train sport pilots.

Repairmen Certificates

The sport pilot/light-sport aircraft rule creates 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; or
  • A light-sport repairman with a maintenance rating.
  • 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; or
  • A light-sport repairman with a maintenance rating; or
  • 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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