What is an Airplane Light Sport Aircraft LSA?

What is an Airplane Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)?


An airplane light-sport aircraft, also known as light sport aircraft, or LSA, is a small fixed-wing aircraft that is simple to fly and that meets certain regulations, weight and performance limitations which are, in the US, set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA.

This can be any single-engine piston powered aircraft under 1,320 pounds maximum gross weight that meets the definition of a fixed-wing (traditional airplane) light-sport aircraft. The pilot may bring along one passenger. The maximum speed is 138 mph (120 knots) full power level flight, have fixed landing gear and a fixed propeller.

A question many ask about training in a Light-Sport Aircraft is:

Can you learn and take a checkride for Sport AND Private Pilot in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)?


All hours in a Light Sport Aircraft can be used for Sport Pilot, Private Pilot, instrument training, Commercial, and an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. Pilots have been training for private and all pilot certificates in Light Sport Aircraft for over 50 years in the classic Piper Cub, Taylorcraft, etc. The modern Light Sport Aircraft is no different than the classic/vintage LSA.


The exact definition by the FAA is: Light-sport aircraft 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—(i) 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or(ii) 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 lift-enhancing 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 auto feathering propeller system if a powered glider.
  • A fixed-pitch, semi-rigid, teetering, two-blade rotor system, if a gyroplane.
  • A non-pressurized 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.

There are three types of airplane light-sport aircraft (LSA) to choose from. To choose the one that is right for you, you will consider the difference in cost, who can maintain it, whether or not you want to use it for training, and if it can be rented.


The three types to choose from are:


When the moment comes that you contemplate owning your own, some of the questions that you will want answered can be found here.

Ownership will involve being knowledgeable about the operation, maintenance and necessary inspections of your craft. We have you covered here too!