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04-20-2010, 03:53 PM
Light Sport Aircraft (LSAs) have a number of restrictions, including: 2 seats only, no retractable gear, Vh =120 KIAS, Gross Weight 1320 lbs, and VFR Only.
It is the VFR Only that confuses me, as many of the new LSA planes have glass cockpits, and seem to have all requirements for IFR flight. Of course, an LSA certificated pilot cannot fly IFR.
But what if an IFR pilot hops into an LSA plane? I cannot find any specific reason that an IFR pilot cannot fly an LSA plane IMC.
Can anyone shed light on this?
04-21-2010, 07:01 AM
Good question. I don't recall a specific exclusion for IFR capability, but...
An LSA can be:
1. A purpose-built factory airplane certified under LSA rules
2. A homebuilt experimental which meets LSA rules
3. A standard category manufactured airplane which happens to meet LSA criteria.
In the case of #3, it could very well be certified for IFR from the factory.
In the case of 1 & 2, the limitation is that the airplane is certified under LSA, not standard airworthiness rules. Do the LSA certification rules make any provision or allowance for IFR certification? I don't think so, so now the question becomes...
EDIT: Information on the EAA website implies that there is nothing which forbids an LSA from being "certified" for IFR, but EAA does not know of any manufacturer which has done so yet. They imply that it might be in the works, although I imagine they might have liability concerns.
04-21-2010, 10:25 AM
I think Rick is absolutely right. There is nothing in the regs that prohibits an LSA from being certified for IFR flight.
But as many of the new LSA planes have glass cockpits, and seem to have all requirements for IFR flight
Ah but they generally don't. Don't make the mistake of thinking that having the equipment in the IFR part of 91.205 is all that's required for an airplane to be certified for flight in the clouds, or that a manufacturer will choose to have IFR added to the kinds of operations permitted under it's type certificate.
Take the DA-20 Katana/Eclipse as an example - there's a fully-certified airplane that's better equipped than many bigger/faster ones, that is not IFR-certified because it does not meet the anti-lightning requirements for IFR certification. (Due to a quirk in the interplay between the certification regs and the operational regs, the DA-20 is permitted fly on an IFR flight plan so long as it stays out of the clouds; that probably applies to properly equipped LSAs also)
04-21-2010, 04:07 PM
There are a couple LSA's out there that can be for sure used in the IFR environment. One of the Zodiac's 601's can be equipped for IFR flight, as well as the Tecnam P2002, with the right engine/avionics combo. Nothing explicitly prohibits IFR operations, but many of the manufacture's don't write the operating manuals to allow for IFR flight. However, people could try to convince a manufacture to write the manual to allow for IFR operation, but not sure how likely that is to go through.
04-23-2010, 04:47 PM
I'm pretty sure the school that has a few LSA here where I'm at has put them down in a field twice... I don't know what kind of engines they put in those things I bet they are getting better, but I wouldn't trust the old rotax's in VFR conditions much-less IFR.
But I'm kind of ignorant on the subject...