Light-sport aircraft (LSA) is a growing sector of the general aviation community, specific to the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) promulgated sport pilot (SP)/LSA regulations in 2004. This significant change in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) allowed easier and lower-cost access to general aviation.
LSA as defined in 14 CFR part 1, section 1.1, “means an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:
- A maximum takeoff weight of not more than—
- 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or
- 1,430 pounds (650 kilograms) for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
- A maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (VH) of not more than 120 knots CAS under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level.
- A maximum never-exceed speed (VNE) of not more than 120 knots CAS for a glider.
- A maximum stalling speed or minimum steady flight speed without the use of liftenhancing devices (VS1) of not more than 45 knots CAS at the aircraft’s maximum certificated takeoff weight and most critical center of gravity.
- A maximum seating capacity of no more than two persons, including the pilot.
- A single, reciprocating engine, if powered.
- A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller if a powered aircraft other than a powered glider.
- A fixed or autofeathering propeller system if a powered glider.
- A fixed-pitch, semi-rigid, teetering, two-blade rotor system, if a gyroplane.
- A nonpressurized cabin, if equipped with a cabin.
- Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft intended for operation on water or a glider.
- Fixed or retractable landing gear, or a hull, for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
- Fixed or retractable landing gear for a glider.”
Several different kinds of aircraft may be certificated as LSA. Airplanes (both powered and gliders), rotorcraft (gyroplanes only, not true for helicopters), powered parachutes, weight-shift control aircraft, and lighter-than-air craft (free balloons and airships) may all be certificated as LSA if they fall within weight and other guidelines established by the FAA.
If you purchased a newly manufactured LSA that is to be certificated as an experimental LSA under 14 CFR part 21, section 21.191(i)(2), or a special LSA under 14 CFR part 21, section 21.190, then you must provide the following documentation to the FAA Civil Aviation Registry Aircraft Registration Branch (AFS-750):
- Aeronautical Center (AC) Form 8050-88 (as revised), Light-Sport Aircraft Manufacturer’s Affidavit, or its equivalent, completed by the LSA manufacturer, unless previously submitted to AFS-750 by the manufacturer,
- Evidence of ownership from the aircraft manufacturer,
- AC Form 8050-1, Aircraft Registration Application, and
- Registration fee.
The FAA Light Sport Aviation Branch (AFS-610) or your local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) can assist you with questions about LSA registration.
There are a number of resources available to assist LSA owners and operators.
Light Sport Aviation Branch, AFS-610
AFS-610 manages and provides oversight of the SP examiner and the LSA repairman-training programs, and also provides subject matter experts for FAA and the aviation industry concerning the SP/LSA aircraft safety initiatives. AFS-610 performs the following functions:
- Acceptance of LSA Repairman courses
- Light Sport Standardization Board
- Oversight of designated SP Examiners
- SP Examiner Initial Training Seminar
- SP Examiner Recurrent Training Program
Experimental Aircraft Association
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) was founded in 1953 by a group of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were interested in building their own airplanes. Through the decades, the organization expanded its mission to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters, light sport, and contemporary manufactured aircraft.
EAA is an excellent resource for light sport aircraft owners and operators. You can contact the EAA at:
EAA Aviation Center
3000 Poberezny Rd
Oshkosh, WI 54902
(800) JOIN-EAA phone
Regulatory guidance for LSA owners and operators includes:
- FAA Order 8130.2 (as revised), Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products
- FAA Order 8130.33 (as revised), Designated Airworthiness Representatives: Amateur-Built and Light-Sport Aircraft Certification Functions