The US Federal Aviation Administration has granted the first seven airworthiness certificates in the new class of special light sport aircraft (S-LSA), which are the first aircraft eligible to be operated by purely recreational licensed sport pilots.

The approvals, announced on 15 April, mean the regulator accepts that each of the seven companies have aircraft and business operations that comply with new industry standards sanctioned by ASTM. All of the first seven certificated companies have aircraft that meet the ASTM standard for an S-LSA – lighter than 600kg (1,320lb) and a stall speed below 45kt (83km/h). The companies all selected aircraft already made in Europe or the USA.

FlightStar of New Jersey is importing the German-made CT2K; Jansen Air Group of Texas is approved to market the Italy-built Tecnam P96 Echo; Indus Aviation, also of Texas, has rights on the 1950s-vintage Thorp T211 design; Pennsylvania-based Kappa Aircraft is selling the Czech-made Kappa KP-5; American Legend Aircraft of Texas is offering a factory-built version of its Legend Cub; Pacific Aerosystems is licensed to sell the SkyArrow, an ultralight made by Italy's Iniziative Industriali Italiane; and finally, Kansas-based RANS is selling S-LSA versions of its ultralights.

Dozens of small businesses are assembling ASTM-compliant proposals for FAA review, as the US general aviation industry debates whether a fledgling new industry catering only to strictly visual flight rule-certified sport pilots can survive.

Ram Pattisapu, founder of Indus Aviation, says the first wave of buyers will be ageing pilots downgrading to sport pilot licences.


Source: Flight International