An increase in the weight limit for LSAs from 1,320 pounds to more than 3,000 could be coming before the end of 2019 or in 2020 according to news published by both the EAA and AOPA. Should that weight limit become a permanent part of the LSA guidelines along with a number of expanded pilot privileges, a sport pilot certificate holder might be able to fly an aircraft that weighs considerably more than the current legal weight limit. But the intricacies of a weight change are just one possibility under the FAA’s Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certificates rulemaking efforts rolled out by the agency during AirVenture 2018.
Both EAA and AOPA have told their members over the past few days that the FAA plans to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking as early as January 2019 that will address LSA weight limits as just one of a number of maybes, designed to allow pilots additional flexibility in the construction of kit aircraft. The NPRM is also expected to look at ways to possibly add electric aircraft to the LSA category.
While a 3,600-pound weight limit has been making the rounds on social and traditional media, that number is far from an absolute at this point in time. “The discussions thus far have been about concepts,” an EAA spokesperson told Flying. “It's also important to note that this is the light-sport aircraft certification for the aircraft, not to be confused with sport pilot certification for the pilot. Right now, under the current LSA/sport pilot rule, the 1,320 pound weight limit is the maximum weight of aircraft that can be operated under a sport pilot certificate. If that linkage would remain in any new rulemaking,” some aircraft heavier than 1,320 pounds that meet specific performance parameters would be eligible for operation by sport pilots. “Stall speed, complexity, cruise speed and other factors would be in play as well, so it’s not as simple as weight = sport pilot eligibility,” EAA added.