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Thread: When is an Ultra Light not and Can it be a LSA

  1. #1

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    When is an Ultra Light not and Can it be a LSA

    So excuse me yet another post, sorry guys but when I was younger and interested in flying I did not have the money, now I do.

    I was going to build and may still yet an Ultra Light. But I see so many used on the market either single or dual seat ones that are Not Ultra Light 103 but could be Light Sport Aircraft. So right now where are these Quicksilvers, Challenger and others classed? To heavy for UL and yet not certified to have a N number? Yet a lot of those Mfg are out of business.

    Is there a process? My local Ins guy who does air craft, said no N number, no Insurance.
    Last edited by wmgeorge; 05-17-2018 at 05:00 PM.

  2. #2
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    EAA has a page with a complete copy of Part 103 for your reading pleasure:

    https://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/aviation-...or-ultralights

    That should answer any questions on what falls within the Part 103 ultralight rules. Anything with two seats does not fit within Part 103.

    A legal ultralight may be insured with third-party liability coverage through the United States Ultralight Association:

    http://www.usua.org/

    A difficult issue with registering an existing UL as E-AB would be proving it was amateur-built. You need to be very informed before running down this rabbit trail....

    Of course all this might be more appropriate in the EAA Ultralight sub-forum.
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 05-17-2018 at 05:36 PM.
    Sam Buchanan
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  3. #3
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmgeorge View Post
    So excuse me yet another post, sorry guys but when I was younger and interested in flying I did not have the money, now I do.

    I was going to build and may still yet an Ultra Light. But I see so many used on the market either single or dual seat ones that are Not Ultra Light 103 but could be Light Sport Aircraft. So right now where are these Quicksilvers, Challenger and others classed?
    "Lawn ornaments."

    There was a ~2-year window in the middle 2000s to allow conversion of ultralights to Experimental Light Sport Aircraft. That window closed over ten years ago. An existing ultralight...or experimental amateur-built aircraft...cannot be licensed as a Special Light Sport or Experimental Light Sport aircraft.



    Ron Wanttaja

  4. #4

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    So a commercial plane either factory or as a kit built say 2007 or so and not a UL but meeting LSP requirements is how classed? How would it assigned a N number or not?

  5. #5

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    The Light Sport Rule was 2004.
    So a 2007 or later factory built or flying kit built should have a N-number.
    If you find an unfinished kit, and it has documents that you can use to prove 51% amateur built, then it might be possible to complete it and get an N-number and airworthiness certificate.

  6. #6
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmgeorge View Post
    So a commercial plane either factory or as a kit built say 2007 or so and not a UL but meeting LSP requirements is how classed? How would it assigned a N number or not?
    Hold on there, Pilgrim...you're mixing a lot of terms that shouldn't be mixed. Let me try to explain it from scratch.

    If an aircraft design DOESN'T meet the requirements of 14CFR Part 103, it is required to be registered. To be registered, it has to hold an Airworthiness Certificate. To get an airworthiness certificate, the aircraft manufacturer has to show it meets the requirements for one.

    The requirements that have to be met vary depending on a lot of factors. Primarily how the plane is to be used. Planes that will be used commercially (ie., transporting people for hire) have to meet more stringent requirements than planes that don't.

    As part of this, Airworthiness is broken into two broad categories: Standard, and Special. Standard Category aircraft are approved for mass production, and to operate commercially. It has the most stringent requirements on design, manufacture, and operation. Special Category aircraft have aspects of requirements relaxed to make it easier to gain an Airworthiness certificate. In some particular cases, these airplanes can be mass produced or operate commercially. But for the Special category aircraft, there are more limitations that come into play.

    Both categories are divided into multiple sub-categories. Here's an illustration:

    Notice Standard category has the traditional production-type aircraft... the Cessnas, the Boeing 787s, the Citabrias. Light Sports, homebuilts, etc. fall under Special category. What people traditionally refer to as "Homebuilts" are Special category aircraft, in the Experimental/Amateur-Built (EAB) subcategory.

    Getting an EAB certificate has few restrictions. The airplane has to be built for education and/or recreation, and an amateur has to perform the majority of the building tasks. This permits kits, as long as an amateur does the MAJORITY of the work. In return, an EAB aircraft has relatively few operational limitations. Most of the other subcategories under Special have more restrictive rules. For instance, the aircraft may not be allowed to carry passengers, or may only be flown under specific circumstances.

    If the EAB meets the FAA's "Light Sport" definition, it can be flown under the Sport Pilot rules.

    However, in addition, the FAA operates two subcategories for PURPOSE-BUILT Light Sport Aircraft. "Special Light Sport Aircraft," (SLSA) and Experimental Light Sport Aircraft" (ELSA). Both these categories have easier restrictions than the "normal" special category aircraft...very similar to EAB, and even better in some ways.

    But both SLSA and ELSA aircraft have specific requirements for the original certification. The designers don't have to meet the design requirements that Standard Category planes do, but there's a given set of standards that must be complied with. These requirements, and the documentation for them, are intended to support PRODUCTION of these airplanes. Once an SLSA is approved, the company is allowed to sell their product commercially. Once they have that approval, they can sell kits of that specific aircraft that are not limited by the "majority by amateurs" rules of EAB aircraft. Aircraft produced by those kits are licensed as ELSA.

    But both of these, again, are configured for companies intending to produce a commercial product. It would be wild overkill for an individual to attempt to gain SLSA or ELSA approval. Could be done, but there's little point. Individual builders can use the EAB rules.

    So, to make a long story short (too late!):

    Getting a existing plane re-licensed as SLSA can't be done. An existing SLSA can be re-licensed as an ELSA, but otherwise, the ELSA has to be made out of an approved SLSA design.

    Getting an existing plane re-licensed as EAB can't be done either. To get the plane licensed as an EAB, you need to PROVE that it was built for education or recreation. Such proof would be difficult to find, in most cases.

    Similarly, licensing an existing ultralight in any other category can't be done. It won't quality as a SLSA, it's ten years past the deadline for ELSA, and again, the EAB rules would preclude it.

    Ron Wanttaja

  7. #7

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    Ron, thank you for the detailed reply. I am sure others will benefit also.

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