What You Need To Know To Get Started
What is a 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:
What is required to obtain a Sport Pilots License?
- Maximum gross takeoff weight—1,320 lbs, or 1,430 lbs for seaplanes.
- Lighter-than-air maximum gross weight—660 lbs (300 kg.)
- Maximum stall speed—51 mph (45 knots)
- Maximum speed in level flight with maximum continuous power (Vh)—138 mph (120 knots)
- 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), 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.
If you are an aviation enthusiast seeking your first pilot certificate, the sport pilot certificate provides the easiest and least costly way to fly for fun and recreation.
The minimum required training time for the different light sport aircraft categories are:
To earn a sport pilot certificate, one must:
- Airplane: 20 hours
- Powered Parachute: 12 hours
- Weight-Shift-Control (Trikes): 20 hours
- Glider: 10 hours
- Rotorcraft (gyroplane only): 20 hours
- Lighter-Than-Air: 20 hours (airship) or 7 hours (balloon)
What if I currently have a Pilots license?
- Be at least 16 to become a student sport pilot (14 for glider).
- Be at least 17 to test for a sport pilot certificate (16 for gliders).
- Be able to read, write, and understand English.
- Hold a current and valid U.S. driver’s license as evidence of medical eligibility (provided the FAA didn’t deny, revoke, or suspend your last medical certificate application). Alternatively, you can also use a third class airman’s medical to establish medical fitness.
- Pass an FAA sport pilot knowledge test.
- Pass a FAA sport pilot practical (flight) test.
An individual holding a recreational pilot certificate or higher (e.g. private) may exercise the privileges of a sport pilot certificate, provided the holder complies with the privileges and limitations of a sport pilot certificate. The main benefit for existing pilots is that sport pilot requires only a valid state driver’s license to establish medical fitness. No more need for a third-class medical! Unfortunately, the rule includes one major exception: Existing pilots, including previous student pilots who have had their most recent FAA medical certificate application denied, suspended, or revoked by the FAA are not allowed to operate using their driver’s license.
Here’s all an existing pilot needs:
- A valid pilot certificate.
- Compliance with the medical requirements of a sport pilot.
- A current flight review (recorded in logbook).
- Fly a sport pilot-eligible aircraft.
- Operate within the privileges and limitations of the sport pilot certificate.
- Operate within the category/class ratings on the pilot certificate.
An individual with a private, commercial, or ATP certificate may perform the flight review in any aircraft authorized by the person’s pilot certificate, assuming the CFI is pilot in command.
A private pilot choosing to operate at the sport pilot level need not do anything more than comply with the rules. No change of certificates is necessary. If ramp checked, a private pilot may simply present the private pilot certificate and valid state driver’s license and inform the FAA inspector “I am operating as a sport pilot.”
How can I obtain Insurance for my owned or rented Light-Sport Aircraft?
Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) –Specialists for Sport Pilots and Light-Sport Aircraft Owners, one of the leading aviation insurance providers is your clear choice.
Insurance is now available from most of the markets we represent for both Special Light-Sport Aircraft (S-LSA) and Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) through Aviation Insurance Resources.
New student sport pilots and new sport pilots as well as private, commercial and airline transport pilots who wish to fly as a sport pilot can obtain insurance for an LSA from Aviation Insurance Resources.
Whether you need aircraft insurance for an airplane you own or are planning to buy, Aviation Insurance Resources can make sure you have the right insurance at the best price. If you need insurance as a student sport pilot or if you are renting or borrowing an S-LSA or E-LSA, Aviation Insurance Resources will provide the insurance you need.
To download a copy of our brochure click here
As fellow aircraft owners, AIR understands your needs and challenges in owning an aircraft. Seaplanes, Experimental/Kitbuilts, Light Sport Aircraft Insurance (LSA), and Warbirds, AIR can provide an economical solution for your needs.
From a single engine piston aircraft to large jet, managing a flight department can be a daunting affair. AIR can guide you through the details of insuring a corporate aircraft. All of the insurance companies we represent are A.M. Best rated "A" or better.
When you rent or borrow an aircraft you may not be protected by the owner's aircraft insurance policy (including your local FBO). If there is an accident you may be held legally liable for damages to the aircraft, or even worse, injuries to others out of your own pocket.