Sunday, October 4, 2009

Aircraft Types and Categories

Ultra light Vehicles
An ultra light aircraft [Figure 1-20] is referred to as a vehicle because the FAA does not govern it if it:
• Is used or intended to be used by a single occupant.
• Is used for recreation or sport purposes.
• Does not have an airworthiness certificate.
• If un-powered, weighs less than 155 pounds.
• If powered, weighs less than 254 pounds empty weight, excluding floats and safety devices that are intended for deployment in a potentially catastrophic situation.
• Has a fuel capacity not exceeding 5 gallons.
• Is not capable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight.
• Has a power-off stall speed, which does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed.

Ultra light vehicles do not require any form of pilot license or certification if they are flown within 14 CFR 103 operating rules which generally limit the ultra light vehicle to uncontrolled airspace and no flight over populated areas. Every person flying an ultra light should be familiar to the rules specified in 14 CFR 103.

Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) Category
In 2004, the FAA approved a new pilot certificate and aircraft category program to allow individuals to join the aviation community by reducing training requirements that affect the overall cost of learning to fly. The Sport Pilot Certificate was created for pilots flying light-weight; simple aircraft and offers limited privileges. The category of aircraft called the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) includes Airplane (Land/Sea), Gyroplane, Airship, Balloon, Weight-Shift Control (Land/Sea), Glider, and Powered Parachute. [Figure 1-21]

In order for an aircraft to fall in the Light Sport Category, it must meet the following criteria:
• The maximum gross takeoff weight may not exceed 1,320 pounds, or 1,430 pounds for seaplanes. Lighter-than-air maximum gross weight may not be more than 660 pounds.
• The maximum stall speed may not exceed 45 knots, and the in-flight maximum speed in level flight with maximum continuous power is no greater than 120 knots.
• Seating is restricted to single or two-seat configuration only.
• The power plant may be only a single, reciprocating engine (if powered), but may include rotary or diesel engines.
• The landing gear must be flexed, except gliders or those aircraft intended for operation on water.
• The aircraft can be manufactured and sold ready-to-fly under a new special LSA category, and certification must meet industry consensus standards. The aircraft may be used for sport, recreation, flight training, and aircraft rental.
• The aircraft will have an FAA registration N-number and may be operated at night if the aircraft is properly equipped and the pilot holds at least a private pilot certificate with a minimum of a third-class medical.

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