The most common and frequently asked questions about Airplane LSA and buying an Airplane Light Sport Aircraft answered for you.

I just heard about Light Sport Aircraft. How long have they been around?

LSA have been around from when airplanes were first being produced and sold. Piper Cubs and some Talorcrafts are examples of LSA. It was not until 2014 when the FAA made the new rule for “modern” LSA, and a sport pilot certificate that the phrase light-sport aircraft was born. Some of the earlier classic airplanes which met the weight, speed and simplicity criteria became LSA. Since 2014 when the new rules took effect, new and modern airplanes that meet the LSA criteria have evolved into modern S-LSA airplanes.

What is the difference between a light sport aircraft (LSA) and a non LSA?

LSA are defined as:

Light-sport aircraft means an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:

  1. A maximum takeoff weight of not more than—
    • (i) 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft not intended for operation on water;     or
    • (ii) 1,430 pounds (650 kilograms) for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
  2. A maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (VH) of not more than 120 knots CAS under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level.
  3. A maximum never-exceed speed (VNE) of not more than 120 knots CAS for a glider.
  4. A maximum stalling speed or minimum steady flight speed without the use of lift-enhancing devices (VS1) of not more than 45 knots CAS at the aircraft’s maximum certificated takeoff weight and a most critical center of gravity.
  5. A maximum seating capacity of no more than two persons, including the pilot.
  6. A single, reciprocating engine, if powered.
  7. A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller if a powered aircraft other than a powered glider.
  8. A fixed or feathering propeller system if a powered glider.
  9. A fixed-pitch, semi-rigid, teetering, two-blade rotor system, if a gyroplane.
  10. A nonpressurized cabin, if equipped with a cabin.
  11. Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft intended for operation on water or a glider.
  12. Fixed or retractable landing gear, or a hull, for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
  13. Fixed or retractable landing gear for a glider.

Any aircraft that meets these criteria is an LSA.

How do I decide what airplane LSA to buy?

You must determine what life style you desire in order to determine what type of aircraft to buy. But an example which is most popular would be the airport to airport model with an enclosed cockpit and modern Rotax engine. The other extreme would be taking off on a sandy beach of rough terrain where you would want a tail wheel with fat tundra tires where drag does not matter because you do not want to go fast or far.

There are many combinations in between considering wing size, wing configuration, engine size, cabin configuration and accessories. Overall, you must first decide what you want your lifestyle to be, then find the configuration, brand and dealer who can supply it. It is like buying a car. You must decide upon an SUV, sports car, truck, minivan, or RV. Then you go looking for the dealer who can supply it.

How much does an airplane LSA cost?

For a NEW two-place, Light Sport Aircraft anywhere between $60,000 for basic no options to $250,000 for the top of the line fully loaded. Fully loaded adds options such as a radio/com system, ballistic safety parachute system, more powerful/reliable engine, transponder, enclosed body, hydraulic disk brakes, lights, upgraded tires, etc… Most of these options have lower and higher cost alternatives all add to the large price variation.

Used two-place airplane LSA that are flyable and considered safe can range from $30,000 to $150,000 all depending on age, condition and options.

Single place new ultralight airplanes can range in price from $12,000 to $40,000 dollars with used from $5,000 to $20,000.

It is similar to buying a car, huge price variations depending on what you want to pay.


How fast do they fly and what is the range?

LSA have a wide speed range based on the mission of the aircraft. LSA made for short takeoff and landing fly slow and will stall at 30 MPH. Fast LSA can cruise at 120 knots/138 MPH. Range depends on the speed, fuel tank size, and efficiency of the engine. 1000 mile range is possible in a LSA with the new ROTAX 912iS fuel injected engine.


Do I need a pilot's license?

For a two-place LSA, minimally, you need an FAA Sport Pilot license. To fly a one-place ultralight trike, no license is required.

How long does it take and how much does it cost to get a pilot’s license?

A minimum of 20 hours training is required for a Sport Pilot license, but it usually takes about 35 hours to become proficient as a pilot. Cost is from $8000 to $20,000 to obtain a Sport Pilot license, about half the cost of a Private Pilot airplane license.

This cost can vary greatly depending on how fast you pick it up, how much you study on your own and how frequently you take lessons. The best training schedule is to fly every other day. If you come for an accelerated course, and you study ahead of time, you can get through the course in about 2 to 4 weeks.

What is the best plan for learning to fly?

It is hard to find a full-time LSA instructor near you, therefore, you may have to travel.

How do I get started?

Simply get the training materials to start studying on your own or simply go take your first flight lesson.

Where do I find an airplane LSA instructor near me?

Check our Sport Pilot LSA Locator to find airplane LSA instructors near you. Or, come learn to fly an airplane LSA with me, Paul Hamilton at Sport Aviation Center. Contact Paul

Got questions?

Contact Paul