Details and Options

Options you should know about

Details of choosing the appropriate light sport aircraft (LSA) airplane options is an important decision for your LSA. The most popular LSA options are:

  • Ballistic parachute
  • Aircraft lighting
  • Engine
  • Autopilot
  • Instrumentation

Generally, it is best to include the options you want right at the start, rather than adding them later.

Here we will look at these options in detail.

Ballistic Parachute

A ballistic parachute is great insurance but does add some weight and cost. However, if you are trying to get all the options, this is a good one based on safety. It adds another layer of safety into your aircraft, and I feel it is an important option.

Aircraft Lighting

If you are going to fly at night or want the best visibility, you should get aircraft lighting.

Landing lights are bright and shine ahead to be able to see the runway when coming in. They are bright for anybody in front of you to see you better in the day.

Strobes are also great for other aircraft to see you from any direction at night and in low light conditions.

Position lights/nav lights are the only lights that are required by law to fly during civil twilight and at night. There is green on the right, red on the left and white shining backwards.


There are a number of options for LSA airplane engines.

The two-stroke which is very light and powerful for the weight is used on ultralights and slower/lighter LSA airplanes. They are known for not being as reliable as the four-stroke but a nice fit for lighter/slower and less expensive aircraft. The Rotax 582 is a typical two-stroke used on LSA aircraft at 65 HP.

The Rotax 912 is the workhorse for most LSA with four-stroke reliability and a standard on many LSA.

The Rotax 912S is the 100 HP upgrade from the 912 which has very little extra weight and a big increase in HP with only about $2500 greater cost than the 912. When considering either of these engines the 912S is the winner with slightly more weight and cost but much greater HP.

The Rotax 914 turbo is the highest power with 115 HP and a great option for higher altitude or aircraft that need more power.

New within the last couple of years is the 912 Rotax fuel injected mode 912iS sport. It is quite a bit more expensive but has the advantage of 30% less fuel consumption and less maintenance without the carburetors. This is the preferred engine over the 912 and 912S but comes with more weight and cost.

Note that all the Rotax 912 series like to run on less expensive autogas but can run on Aviation 100LL.

There are a number of other classic engines such as Continental and Lycoming used on LSA airplanes but Rotax is by far the industry leader. Other companies such as Jabaru produce engines for LSA also.


If you plan on traveling long distances the autopilot option is a must. It relieves the workload with less fatiguing overall. It gets you there more directly. Again, more weight and money, but worth it for longer trips.


EFIS or Electronic Flight Information System is the digital glass panels that are going into most LSA airplanes because they are now reliable, lightweight and have almost everything built into a small efficient area. Many have GPS built-in and provide airport information, so you do not have to worry about paper maps or books in the cockpit.

A transponder is a device that sends out a signal, so the Tower and air traffic control sees you as a dot on their radar screen. Required for flying into large airports but an added safety item because the air traffic control can see you as well as some other airplanes can see you. You can also add a TCAS system where YOU can see the other aircraft on your screen.

iPad is a typical addition to many cockpits with all the up-to-date maps, books, weather and many other features can be found.

Got questions?

Contact Paul