Your information is not accurate with regards to Sport pilot privileges and aircraft weight limits. The only “official” defining weight limit is “Maximum Takeoff Weight”.
As you know, the definition of “light sport aircraft” is found in FAR 1.1
Light-sport aircraft means an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:
(1) A maximum takeoff weight of not more than—
(i) 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or
(ii) 1,430 pounds (650 kilograms) for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
The FAA realized it needed to, and did, include the definition of “maximum takeoff weight” as it applies to the LSA definition in 1.1 and it is found on page 44793 of the Federal Register;
Certification of Aircraft and Airman for the Operation of Light-Sport aircraft; Final Rule. Dated July 27, 2004
It says, verbatim,
"Some commentators stated that lacking a definition of maximum take off weight, aircraft with fairly high performance characteristics could meet the definition of light-sport aircraft by limiting the approved weight and payload of the airplane. The FAA considers this a valid concern and has provided some additional constraints on the weight as detailed below. The maximum weight of a light-sport aircraft is the sum of :
(1) Aircraft empty weight;
(2) Weight of the passenger for each seat installed;
(3) Baggage allowance for each passenger; and
(4) Full fuel, including a minimum of the half hour fuel reserve required for day visual flight rules in FAR 91.151(a)(1)"
This definitively states the definition of ”maximum takeoff weight” of a light-sport aircraft as is used to determine what may be considered a light sport eligible aircraft and no other definition, or use of the term “maximum weight” as found in the F.A.R’s or elsewhere may be substituted at will. Not Gross weight, Maximum Gross weight, Maximum gross takeoff weight, or any of the other terms that are tossed around. This weight, “maximum takeoff weight”, as defined specifically by the FAA for LSA issues, as the sum of (1), (2), (3), and (4),
A Kitfox Series 5, with an empty weight of 710 lbs (1) with both seats filled (2), and, full fuel tanks (3), still leaves 63 pounds of for baggage allowance as required by (4)
Seats filled 2 x 180 = 360 lbs
Full tanks (inc header) 27 gal. x 6 lbs = 162 lbs
Empty weight as on current W&B = 710 lbs.
Baggage allowance 25 lbs
1257 lbs as weighed and loaded
Weight at time of takeoff is 63 lbs LESS THAN 1320 lbs.
Note: In this loading configuration the aircraft is well within it’s demonstrated and published flight envelope
AND, the aircraft has not been altered or modified since it was issued it’s airworthiness certificate, in order to meet the definition.
Example: The fuel capacity has not been modified to lower the weight of (4) “full fuel.” as a result of installing smaller tanks.
Therefore, it has met the condition “since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:
1) A maximum takeoff weight of not more than… (add (1), (2), (3), and (4) (1320lbs max. land use) has been met
One pilot may, under Sport pilot privileges, operate the aircraft at “maximum takeoff weight” up to 1320 lbs, another pilot flying under private pilot privileges, up to the design weight, in this case 1400 lbs. Same aircraft.
One must read and understand the Final Rule and apply it correctly to the regulation it governs. I would look forward to any comments or corrections.
We appreciate the effort you put forth in sending this question in, and it's a good one. However, the fact is we HAVE read the rule and applied it correctly, and we've checked again with the FAA legal department for clarification.
As you suggest, one must read the rule carefully and apply it correctly. The fact is, the devil is in the details of the wording of the definition of a light-sport aircraft (LSA) as called out in the regulations (Ref. 14 CFR 1.1).
The very first line of the definition is the key. It states:
"Light-sport aircraft means an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:"
This verbiage clearly says that an aircraft must meet all the criteria called out in the definition of an LSA at the time of its original certification AND CONTINUOUSLY thereafter. One of the items it must meet is a maximum takeoff weight of 1320 lbs (1430 lbs for seaplanes). Since it must meet this requirement continuously since it's original certification, it can NEVER have been operated at a maximum takeoff weight of anything greater than the weight called out in the LSA definition. If it operates at a maximum takeoff weight greater than that called out in the definition EVEN ONE TIME, it no longer meets the definition and is not eligible for operation by sport pilots forever thereafter.
So the scenario you suggest, where a Kitfox has a maximum gross of 1400 lbs but can be operated at 1320 lbs by a sport pilot, won't work. If the aircraft has EVER been operated at a maximum takeoff weight of greater than 1320 lbs, even if it was only one time, it no longer meets the definition of a light sport aircraft and is not eligible for operation by sport pilots.
|| Was this answer useful to you?