Sport Pilot: Homebuilts, Mods and Aerobatics

Ask EAA's Experts

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X-Air LSJim Koepnick / EAA

Each month, Flying answers questions about the new Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft rule with assistance from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the authority on the opportunities available within the category commonly known as "Sport Pilot":

Q: I am considering homebuilt aircraft with an eye toward building or buying something that meets the light-sport aircraft (LSA) definition so that I can fly it as a sport pilot. How do I know if the aircraft I'm looking at will qualify?

A: This is actually a complicated question. Homebuilt aircraft are so individualized that no two examples of the same design are the same, and in many cases one particular aircraft may meet the LSA definition while another seemingly identical example won't. This being the case, a person planning to buy an already-flying homebuilt needs to be very familiar with the LSA definition and very diligent in studying the aircraft records to make sure the prospective purchase indeed meets the requirements.

Q: My Zodiac, built by AMD, is currently undergoing the modification required for the wing. Once it's complete, do I have to do anything with the FAA, or is completion of the repair considered getting it back to an airworthy status?

A: Since your aircraft was built by AMD, we're assuming that it is the special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) version. As such, you must comply with the safety alert/safety directive issued by AMD on Nov. 7, 2009. Corrective action steps begin on page 3. In addition to corrective action regarding the upgrade kit, you'll find requirements there for ground and flight testing, modification of the Pilot's Operating Handbook and maintenance manual, and several other tasks — some which need to be done prior to each future flight. Read the document carefully, and become familiar with all of the changes. Once you have done this, we encourage you to talk with the personnel responsible for the upgrade to ensure that the procedures and documentation are in compliance with the safety alert/safety directive.

Q: Are there any restrictions on flying aerobatics if I have the Sport Pilot certificate? I think the answer is "no" but want to be sure that I'm not missing anything that I should be taking into consideration. Thanks for any help you can give.

A: There is nothing in the regulations that would prohibit a sport pilot from performing aerobatics. Obviously the aircraft would have to be capable of and not prohibited from aerobatics and would also need to meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft.

For more information on Sport Pilot, visit EAA's sportpilot.org. EAA, which also hosts the annual EAA AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, provides in-depth information on the website, as well as a sport pilot hotline and complete membership services for all aviation enthusiasts. Call 800-564-6322 for membership information. Visit oshkosh365.org for discussion boards on this and other aviation topics.