What is an Airplane E-LSA, Experimental Light Sport Aircraft?

An airplane E-LSA does not meet the definition of Part 103; has been assembled from an aircraft kit produced by a light-sport aircraft manufacturer.

Kits assembled under this category are not required to meet the 51 percent home-built regulation.


Sport Pilots may fly airplane certificated in many of the experimental aircraft categories, including experimental light-sport aircraft, experimental amateur-built, and experimental exhibition.

If you have an E-LSA kit or plan built airplane that does not conform to amateur-built certification requirements and will be certificated in the E-LSA category it must be based on an aircraft that has received a special LSA (S-LSA) airworthiness certificate.

You must operate your E-LSA in accordance with the operating limitations issued to the aircraft at the time it receives its airworthiness certification. It must be maintained in accordance with regulations as they apply to E-LSA.

The aircraft annual condition inspection may be conducted by an LSA repairman with an inspection rating, an LSA repairman with a maintenance rating, an airframe and power plant (A & P) mechanic, or a certified repair station.

Experimental amateur-built aircraft

If your airplane is experimental amateur-built that meet the definition of an LSA, you may fly it as a sport pilot.

If it is certificated as experimental amateur-built you must operate it in accordance with the operating limitations issued to the aircraft at the time it received its airworthiness certification.

An experimental amateur-built or “homebuilt” aircraft must have the major portion of the fabrication and assembly tasks be performed by the person(s) building the aircraft for their own education and recreation. (This is commonly referred to as the “51% rule”.)

These airplanes can be flown by a sport pilot under the LSA regulations as long as they meet the definition of an airplane light-sport aircraft as outlined in FAR Part 1.1.

You can fly these aircraft for sport or recreation, but you cannot use them for flight training for hire or rental.

Some examples of amateur-built or homebuilt airplanes that meet the definition of a LSA include Sonex, Kitfox Model IV, Pietenpol Aircamper, and the Zenith 601.

In addition, the maintenance rules for these aircraft have not changed as a result of the sport pilot regulations. Your aircraft must be maintained and inspected in accordance with regulations as they pertain to amateur-built aircraft.

The aircraft annual condition inspection may be performed by the original primary builder if he/she holds the repairman certificate for the aircraft, an A&P mechanic, or a certified repair station.

Airworthiness of Airplane E-LSA

If you have an experimental you should have two certificates:
  • FAA “Registration” which has your name and address on it (white)
  • FAA “Special Airworthiness Certificate” (salmon colored)
Both are needed for the aircraft. You should contact your local FSDO office or if they are to busy find a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) to help you get your requistation and airworthiness certificate in order. The Part 21 rules are referenced here for further information: The following are the Part 21 rules referenced.

§ 21.191 Experimental Certificates

Experimental certificates are issued for the following purposes:

    • (a) Research and development. Testing new aircraft design concepts, new aircraft equipment, new aircraft installations, new aircraft operating techniques, or new uses for aircraft.
    • (b) Showing compliance with regulations. Conducting flight tests and other operations to show compliance with the airworthiness regulations including flights to show compliance for issuance of type and supplemental type certificates, flights to substantiate major design changes, and flights to show compliance with the function and reliability requirements of the regulations.
    • (c) Crew training. Training of the applicant’s flight crews.
    • (d) Exhibition. Exhibiting the aircraft’s flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics at air shows, motion picture, television, and similar productions, and the maintenance of exhibition flight proficiency, including (for persons exhibiting aircraft) flying to and from such air shows and productions.
    • (e) Air racing. Participating in air races, including (for such participants) practicing for such air races and flying to and from racing events.
    • (f) Market surveys. Use of aircraft for purposes of conducting market surveys, sales demonstrations, and customer crew training only as provided in § 21.195.
    • (g) Operating amateur-built aircraft. Operating an aircraft, the major portion of which has been fabricated and assembled by persons who undertook the construction project solely for their own education or recreation. {New-2004-17 (h) revised July 27, 2004, effective September 1, 2004. Was “(h) Operating kit-built aircraft.”}
    • (h) Operating primary kit-built aircraft. Operating a primary category aircraft that meets the criteria of § 21.24(a)(1) that was assembled by a person from a kit manufactured by the holder of a production certificate for that kit, without the supervision and quality control of the production certificate holder under § 21.184(a). {New-2004-17
    • (i) added July 27, 2004, effective September 1, 2004} (i) Operating light-sport aircraft. Operating a light-sport aircraft that–

    1. Has not been issued a U.S. or foreign airworthiness certificate and does not meet the provisions of § 103.1 of this chapter. An experimental certificate will not be issued under this paragraph for these aircraft after January 31, 2008;
    2. Has been assembled– -(i) From an aircraft kit for which the applicant can provide the information required by § 21.193(e); and -(ii) In accordance with manufacturer’s assembly instructions that meet an applicable consensus standard; or
    3. Has been previously issued a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category under § 21.190.

§ 21.193 Experimental Certificates: General An applicant for an experimental certificate must submit the following information:

(a) A statement, in a form and manner prescribed by the Administrator setting forth the purpose for which the aircraft is to be used.

(b) Enough data (such as photographs) to identify the aircraft.

(c) Upon inspection of the aircraft, any pertinent information found necessary by the Administrator to safeguard the general public.

(d) In the case of an aircraft to be used for experimental purposes –

  1. The purpose of the experiment;
  2. The estimated time or number of flights required for the experiment;
  3. The areas over which the experiment will be conducted; and
  4. Except for aircraft converted from a previously certificated type without appreciable change in the external configuration, three view drawings or three view dimensioned photographs of the aircraft.

{New-2004-17 (e) added July 27, 2004, effective September 1, 2004}

(e) In the case of a light-sport aircraft assembled from a kit to be certificated in accordance with § 21.191(i)

(2) an applicant must provide the following:

  1. Evidence that an aircraft of the same make and model was manufactured and assembled by the aircraft kit manufacturer and issued a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category.
  2. The aircraft’s operating instructions.
  3. The aircraft’s maintenance and inspection procedures.
  4. The manufacturer’s statement of compliance for the aircraft kit used in the aircraft assembly that meets § 21.190(c), except that instead of meeting § 21.190(c)(7), the statement must identify assembly instructions for the aircraft that meet an applicable consensus standard.
  5. The aircraft’s flight training supplement.
  6. In addition to paragraphs

(e) (1) through (e)(5) of this section, for an aircraft kit manufactured outside of the United States, evidence that the aircraft kit was manufactured in a country with which the United States has a Bilateral Airworthiness Agreement concerning airplanes or a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement with associated Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness concerning airplanes, or an equivalent airworthiness agreement.