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Regulations and relevant NAA advisories

Light Sport Aircraft regulations

Rev. 6 — document was last reviewed 19 February 2013

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In 2006 CASA introduced the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) category; the amendments to the regulations were developed by a project team consisting of CASA specialists, representatives from each of the sporting organisations, Australian manufacturers and CASA authorised persons.

LSA is the result of other National Airworthiness Authorities (NAA) adopting similar rules to address advances in sport and recreational aviation technology. LSA aims to allow the manufacture of safe and economical very light aircraft, to be operated for the purpose of sport and recreation, to carry a passenger, to conduct flight training and perhaps, also glider towing.


  • CASA synopsis: the Light Sport Aircraft category
    • What is a Light Sport Aircraft?
    • What is not an LSA?
    • The FAA LSA rule
    • Manufacturer responsibilities
    • What happens if the manufacturer no longer exists?
    • CASA responsibilities
    • LSA standards
    • Certificate of Airworthiness for LSA
    • CASA authorised persons and issue of certificates of airworthiness for LSA
    • Operating limitations and requirements for LSA with a Special Certificate of Airworthiness
    • Operating Limitations for Experimental LSA

  • A few pointers from the RA-Aus Technical Manager concerning LSA registration
    • Factory built LSA
    • Home-built: experimental LSA
    • Existing factory built aircraft
    • Relevant ACs, CARs and CASRs

CASA synopsis: the Light Sport Aircraft category

What is a Light Sport Aircraft?
LSA is a category of aircraft that does not replace any existing category. It is not intended for existing aircraft already operating under a different airworthiness category. It is a small, simple to operate aircraft. It can be a ready-to-fly production aircraft or it can be a kit-built aircraft of the same make and model as the production aircraft.

[LSA is a certification category within CAO 95.55 and CAO95.32 ... JB.]

With regard to the requirements of the regulations, a light sport aircraft is an aircraft, other than a helicopter, that has:
  • A maximum take-off weight of 600 kg or 650 kg for an aircraft intended and configured for operation on water or 560 kg for a lighter-than-air aircraft.
  • A maximum stall speed in the landing configuration (Vso) of 45 knots CAS.
  • Maximum two person, including the pilot.
  • A fixed landing gear. A glider may have retractable landing gear. (For an aircraft intended for operation on water, a fixed or repositionable landing gear)
  • A single, non-turbine engine fitted with a propeller.
  • A non-pressurised cabin.
  • If the aircraft is a glider a maximum never exceed speed (Vne) of 135 knots CAS

The types of aircraft that may satisfy these criteria are 3-axis aeroplanes, powered parachutes, weight-shift control aeroplanes (trikes), gliders, balloons, airships and gyroplanes.

Administration – an LSA may operate under either a sport and recreational aviation organisation such as RA-Aus, or under CASA.
What is not an LSA?
The types of aircraft that do not fit in this category are:
  • Hang gliders
  • Paragliders
  • Multi-engine aircraft
  • Helicopters
  • Complex aeroplanes with retractable undercarriages or turbine engines
The FAA LSA rule
The United States FAA introduced an LSA rule on 1 September 2004. CASA intended to harmonise with this rule as much as possible. However, because of the extensive experience with operating similar types of aircraft in Australia, it was decided that minor differences in defining LSA were warranted.
    These differences are:
  • CASA allows a stall speed of 45 knots in the landing configuration (Vso) whereas the FAA allows a stall speed 45 knots in clean configuration (Vs1)
  • CASA has no requirements for a propeller whereas the FAA requires the propeller to be fixed pitch or ground adjustable.
  • CASA allows a never exceed speed (Vne) for glider of 135 knots whereas the FAA allows 120 knots.
  • CASA allows a gross maximum weight of 560 kg for a lighter-than-air whereas the FAA allows only 300 kg.
  • CASA has no maximum airspeed requirement for a powered aircraft whereas the FAA stipulates maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (Vh) of not more than 120 knots CAS [in standard sea level atmospheric conditions].
Manufacturer responsibilities
The manufacturer is responsible to certify the aircraft and the continuing airworthiness. This means that the manufacturer certifies that each aircraft complies with the LSA standards by signing a statement of compliance. The statement of compliance must indicate that the aircraft was manufactured by a qualified manufacturer, complies with the design and performance, quality assurance, production testing (not required for a kit aircraft) and continued operational safety monitoring standards*.

(*Note: thus the manufacturers of light sport aircraft don't need to hold a type certificate issued by any NAA, instead the manufacturer of the LSA issues the Statement of Compliance document — with each aircraft delivered. Not having to go through the costly type certification and production certification processes is one of the benefits to manufacturing of the LSA concept ... JB)

If the aircraft is manufactured overseas, the manufacturer will also need to provide evidence that the aircraft is manufactured in [an ICAO] Contracting State, and the aircraft is eligible for a certificate of airworthiness, or another document of similar effect, in the country of manufacture.

The manufacturer will be required to continually monitor the airworthiness of these aircraft in accordance with the LSA Continued Operational Safety Monitoring standard. This will require the manufacturer to manage a database of all owners of aircraft in Australia and overseas, investigate service defects and address safety critical defects with corrective action in the form of safety directives issued to all affected owners. The manufacturer is also responsible for approving all modifications to production aircraft (not kit-built aircraft) even if the modification has been approved by a CAR 35 [now CASR 21.M] engineer. The reason for this is that the manufacturer is now responsible for the continuing airworthiness of these aircraft which includes modifications.

The manufacturer will also need to provide product information in accordance with the LSA standards. This will include data plate, conformity details of the aircraft, warning decals, operating instructions, aircraft flight training supplement and the maintenance and inspection procedures.
What happens if the manufacturer no longer exists?
In the event that a manufacturer no longer exists or can no longer provide continuing airworthiness support to owners of their aircraft, CASA can appoint a competent person to carry out the manufacturer's continuing airworthiness requirements. If no-one satisfies CASA approval criteria or no person applies to CASA for appointment, the existing production LSA can no longer operate under a Special Certificate of Airworthiness. In such situations, these aircraft can be operated under an Experimental Certificate for LSA.
CASA responsibilities
The LSA regulations do not require CASA to issue Type Certificates or Production Certificates nor issue safety of flight Airworthiness Directives, except in cases of significant public interest. However, if the manufacturer decides to include a type certificated product such as an engine or propeller in its aircraft, then these components can be subject to applicable ADs.

CASA will participate with industry in periodically reviewing the LSA standards and approving these standards. CASA will also be responsible for overseeing the authorised persons performing initial airworthiness entry control. It is expected that this should significantly reduce CASA's role with sport and recreational aircraft.
LSA standards
The LSA standards are a series of standards with which the LSA manufacturer must comply. The US standards were issued after the FAA requested the American Society for Testing and Materials [ASTM International] to develop consensus standards for each LSA category such as fixed-wing, weight-shift, lighter-than-air, powered parachutes, gliders and gyroplanes.

A committee of manufacturers, aviation sports bodies and regulators was formed to develop Design and Performance, Quality Assurance, Production Testing and Continued Operational Safety Monitoring standards for each aircraft category. Other design standards for propellers, reciprocating and diesel engines and ballistic emergency parachutes were also included by the ASTM as cross cutting standards.

Unlike the FAA, CASA has also included other existing design standards as acceptable for this type of aircraft. However, 'cherry picking' of selected paragraphs out of these standards will not be acceptable. If the manufacturer selects a design standard for an aircraft then compliance with the entire standard must be shown. A list of the CASA approved LSA standards are included in the Advisory Circular 21-42, Light Sport Aircraft Manufacturer's Requirements. This list will be updated as more ASTM standards are developed and become available.
    CASA alternative standards for design and performance (ASTM Standard F2245) are:
  • BCAR Section S (Britain)
  • CAO 101.55 (Australia)
  • DaeC (BFU) 10/95 (Germany)
  • UL/2 PT2 (Czech Republic)
  • PICA 26 (Australia) [PICA 26 primary and intermediate categories is no longer valid ... JB] and
  • DS 10141E (Canada).
[The list may not be up-to-date.]

Certificate of Airworthiness for LSA
There are two types of Certificates of Airworthiness for LSA. These are Special Certificates of Airworthiness and Experimental Certificates.

The Special Certificate of Airworthiness for LSA is for production ready-to-fly aircraft. These aircraft may be used for private operations, flying training and towing gliders. The Special CoA remains valid provided the aircraft is maintained in accordance with the requirements of the manufacturer and the aircraft has not been modified unless approved by the manufacturer.

However, if the aircraft is not maintained in accordance with the manufacturer, or the manufacturer can no longer provide the continuing airworthiness, or the aircraft is modified without the manufacturer's approval, the Special CoA will no longer be in force and, to operate the aircraft, the owner will need to apply for and receive an Experimental Certificate.

An Experimental Certificate for LSA is available for kit built LSA and for aircraft that no longer satisfy the requirements of the Special CoA. Before an Experimental Certificate can be issued to a kit built aircraft, the manufacturer should have produced a production aircraft of the same model issued with a Special CoA. Unlike the amateur built aircraft, there is no requirement that the owner must build 51% of the aircraft.

The Experimental Certificate also provides an avenue for operating aircraft that no longer comply with the requirements of the Special CoA for LSA. There are a number of circumstances where this could arise such as the aircraft has been modified without the manufacturer's approval or has not been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's requirements. Another circumstance may be that the manufacturer has gone out of business and no suitable persons or organisations have taken over the continuing airworthiness functions for the aircraft.

For more information see Advisory Circular 21-41, Light Sport Aircraft Certificate of Airworthiness.
CASA authorised persons and issue of Certificates of Airworthiness for LSA
CASA authorised persons* may issue a Special Certificate of Airworthiness for LSA (production ready-to-fly aircraft) or an Experimental Certificate for LSA (kit-built aircraft or production aircraft that no longer satisfy the LSA standards).

Before the Special CoA or Experimental Certificate is issued, the authorised person must verify the manufacturer's statement of compliance satisfies the LSA requirements, and the owner has available the operating instructions, flight training supplement, and maintenance and inspection manuals. The authorised person must inspect the aircraft is in a condition for safe operation. If the aircraft was manufactured overseas, the authorised person must also ensure that the aircraft was manufactured and eligible for a Certificate of Airworthiness in an ICAO Contracting State.

*Note: authorised person; an 'authorisation' is a legal mechanism that allows an individual to do something for the purposes of the legislation that he/she would not otherwise be able to legally do. The Director of Aviation Safety can appoint people as an authorised person for the purposes of the Regulations. Specific regulations make provision for persons to be authorised to perform a specific task or function ...JB.
Operating limitations and requirements for LSA with a Special Certificate of Airworthiness
The Special CoA issued to Production LSA will state one or more of the following three operational purposes: 'private operations', 'flight training' and 'aerotowing of gliders'*. [See CAR 262APA ... JB]

*Note: the RAAO registered aircraft currently (October 2012) acceptable to CASA for the aerotowing of other aircraft are listed in CAAP 149-1(0) ... JB.

The maintenance and inspection of these aircraft are required to be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer's maintenance and inspection procedures. If the aircraft is used for flying training, glider towing or hire, the aircraft must be inspected every 100 hours Time in Service (TIS) or every year, whichever occurs first. If the aircraft is used for private purposes only, the aircraft is required to be inspected every 12 months. If an aircraft has been idle for an extended period of two years or more, the inspection and maintenance is required only once during the period but within 12 months of the next flight.

Because the manufacturer is responsible for the continuing airworthiness of their aircraft in accordance with the Continued Operational Safety Monitoring standard, the manufacturer must evaluate all significant defects and correct any unsafe condition that may exist in the remaining fleet. Therefore the aircraft owner should notify the manufacturer of any safety of flight issues or significant defects. After assessing such defects, the manufacturer can then issue to all affected owners a Safety Direction (SD) to correct an unsafe condition. It is therefore very important and is a requirement with the LSA standard that all registered operators provide the manufacturer with current contact information.

It is mandatory that the owner comply with the requirements of the SD. The owner can apply to the manufacturer for a variation or exemption against the SD provided suitable safety justification is included in the application. The manufacturer will assess the application and if the safety justification satisfactorily addresses the safety issue, the manufacturer can approve an alternative means of compliance or grant an exemption against the SD. However, if the manufacturer does not approve an application, the owner must comply with the requirements of the SD.

In the interests of safety, CASA may include additional operating limitations to an aircraft. This would only occur if CASA considered that other requirements by the manufacturer were inappropriate or did not address a safety critical issue.

The manufacturer must approve all modifications to LSA issued with s Special Certificate of Airworthiness. This is different to other aircraft where CASA or a person authorised under CAR35/CASR 21.M can approve modifications without notifying the manufacturer. The owner should be aware that unapproved modification of the aircraft will result in the Special CoA no longer being in force and the owner will be required to apply for an Experimental Certificate for LSA resulting with reduced operational privileges.

Prior to flying a light sport aircraft, the pilot must inform the passenger that the aircraft does not meet the same airworthiness requirements as an aircraft with a Standard Certificate of Airworthiness. Also an information placard must also be displayed in the cabin or cockpit at a location in full view of the passenger and the pilot, with the wording:

Operating Limitations for Experimental LSA
The operating limitations for experimental LSA are the same as other experimental aircraft such as amateur built aircraft. Experimental LSA cannot be used for flying training (unless training the owner). These aircraft are limited to day flying under the visual flight rules and cannot be operated over built-up areas unless authorised by CASA or an authorised person. [See CAR 262AP 'Experimental aircraft - operating limitations' ... JB].

For further information see AC 21-42 LSA Manufacturer's Requirements [but note the 'PICA 26 Airworthiness design requirements for aeroplanes of conventional design in the primary and intermediate category' referred to in Appendix 1 para 3.1 is no longer available ... JB] and AC 21-41 LSA Certificate of Airworthiness .

Bernie Hole

Project Manager, Light Sport Aircraft, CASA

A few pointers from the RA-Aus Technical Manager concerning LSA registration

When intending to purchase a new aircraft for registration within the LSA category, make sure that aircraft type and model is acceptable as an LSA by CASA or RA-Aus — whether the source is an Australian or overseas manufacturer or a local importer. If intending to purchase a pre-owned light sport aircraft from any source you must check with the RA-Aus to ensure there are no outstanding problems with the LSA registration of that particular aircraft. The same precautions apply to non-LSA aircraft, of course.
Factory built LSA
  • The factory needs to be a 'qualified manufacturer', see CASR 21.172.
  • The factory needs to sign a 'statement of compliance' (see CASR 21.186 (2) ) indicating that the aircraft meets the appropriate design rules; only ASTM standard for the US but Australia has other acceptable standards including CAO 101.55, PICA 26 [the 'PICA 26 Airworthiness design requirements for aeroplanes of conventional design in the primary and intermediate category' is no longer available ... JB], CS-VLA, UL2/1 etc. The list is found in Advisory Circular 21-42.
  • The factory needs to supply all the manuals with the aircraft.
  • The factory needs to keep a list of registered owners of their aircraft.
  • The factory is responsible for all airworthiness issues of their aircraft and their information to their owners (Safety Directives etc).

When you have purchased an LSA, you will need:
  • All documentation and manuals
  • The manufacturer's Statement of Compliance.

Actions to take:
  • Request a registration number allocation from the RA-Aus office. This can be done before the aircraft arrives.

  • Once the aircraft has arrived, send to the office a copy of the factory flight test report, weight and balance, statement of compliance plus photographs of the aircraft, the registration markings and cockpit placarding, to receive full RA-Aus registration.

    The registration certificate in the LSA case is not a permission to fly, the aircraft can only be flown when a Special CoA LSA (or Experimental Certificate LSA) is issued by a CASA authorised person, and a copy of this certificate is received by RA-Aus.

  • Only after your aircraft is registered, should you submit an application to CASA to have your aircraft inspected by an 'authorised person' and a Special CoA issued. Be sure to fill out the application form precisely and completely and register the activities you wish to accomplish with your aircraft i.e. private operations, flight training or aerotowing of gliders, if the latter see CAAP 149-1. You MUST have the appropriate manuals before you for each activity you are requesting.

  • If you make a submission for private operations only, and six months down the track you wish to use it for flight training, it will need a new inspection and you will have to go through the procedure again. Each time will cost money.

  • If the aircraft does not conform to the design standard under which it is being accepted (as decided by the inspector in the end), or the paperwork is not complete, or the aircraft has no statement of compliance or is not registered, your application for a Special CoA will be rejected. The inspector must give you the reasons why and the application will be closed. Once you have all the faults sorted, you can re-apply.

  • Once you have a Special CoA, send a copy to the RA-Aus office.

  • It is also a requirement of the Australian Civil Aviation Act that all aircraft which do not have an exemption against the requirement, must have a CoA issued and carry a copy of it in the aircraft flight manual during operation. RA-Aus registered light sport aircraft do not have an exemption against this requirement.

  • If you make any unapproved modifications to your factory built aircraft, you will be issued with an Experimental Certificate. If you reverse the modification, the aircraft will need to be re-inspected by an authorised person. CAR35/CASR 21.M engineers have no place in approving modifications for LSA aircraft, unless their modifications are accepted by the factory and the factory approves it.

    Note: the manufacturer's approval is required before any type certified aircraft can be modified and, as you might expect, manufacturers are very cautious in the approval process. If the aircraft no longer complies because of an unapproved modification the CoA becomes void and continued operation with an invalid CoA is a criminal offence.

  • If you maintain your aircraft and use a different oil filter, get it approved by the manufacturer, to cover yourself.

  • Be aware that every piece of your aircraft has to conform to the design standards it was built to and which is acceptable for the LSA category, even the seat covers!

  • It is easy to fall out of the Special CoA LSA and into the Experimental LSA but very hard and time consuming to get back to the Special CoA status.

  • For factory-builts, the owners should be in constant contact with the manufacturer or importer.

Home-built: experimental LSA
The manufacturer conforms to the same guidelines as 'factory-built', although their responsibility stops when you take delivery of the kit. It is up to the homebuilder to make sure they follow the building guidelines and conform to the design standards of LSA. If you decide to modify the aircraft during building, you need to make certain that your aircraft still complies to the LSA standard. If you spend 500 hours designing retracts for your aircraft, the inspector will knock it back and there is no category for you left, so you can stick it on a pole. Same goes if you put a turbine in etc.

  • As above, the aircraft must be registered before it will be inspected.

  • If the inspector is happy with you, you will receive an Experimental Certificate, a copy of which must be sent to the RA-Aus office.

  • RA-Aus does not issue CoAs. The 'Authorised Persons' are CASA instrument holders who will charge for their services.

Existing factory/kit-built aircraft
Can you bring your existing aircraft into the LSA category? Perhaps it's possible, providing you get a statement of compliance from the manufacturer, then follow the steps outlined above, but:
  • No imported aircraft built prior to the inception of the LSA in the USA (January 2004) will be accepted, and then only, if the particular aircraft was built to the ASTM standard.
  • No Australian factory-built aircraft built prior to 15 December 2005 will be eligible for LSA.
  • Experimental aircraft registered with RA-Aus (19 and 28 category) will be bound by the kit manufacturer's/designer's MTOW or the MTOW recommended in the aircraft drawings (if below the 600 kg approved for RA-Aus aircraft.
Relevant ACs, CARs and CASRs
The following are relevant to light sport aircraft:
  • AC 21-41 LSA Certificate of Airworthiness

  • AC 21-42 LSA Manufacturer's Requirements

  • CAR 262APA Light sport aircraft - operating limitations

  • CAR 262AP Experimental aircraft - operating limitations

  • CASR 21.172 Definitions for Subpart (LSA) [Defines the meanings of 'LSA standards' and 'Qualified manufacturer' ... JB]

  • CASR 21.176 Issue of certain certificates of airworthiness

  • CASR 21.186 Special certificates of airworthiness for light sport aircraft

  • CASR 21.191 Experimental certificates

  • CASR 21.193 Experimental certificates: general
LSA registration information is contained within Section 7.3 (CAO 95.32 aircraft) and Section 7.5 (CAO 95.5 aircraft) of the RA-Aus Technical Manual. The documents 7.3.1, 7.3.3, 7.5.1 and 7.5.3 mention the manufacturer's 'Statement of Conformity' but it should read ''Statement of Compliance'; the 'Statement of Conformity' term applies to non-LSA aircraft.

RA-Aus Technical Manager