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Status report on Recreational Aviation and Light Sport Aircraft

By Patrick Gilligan

 

In 2004, representatives of the light aircraft industry, including COPA identified that recreational aircraft have evolved and this sector was growing in complexity. Transport Canada’s regulatory framework regarding recreational aircraft was not in line with the evolution of technologies and practices in this sector of civil aviation.

Some of these aircraft are recognized internationally, while others are not. Such is the case with Canada’s Owner-Maintenance and *U.S. Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).

In January 2006 Transport Canada sponsored and COPA co-chaired the Recreational Aviation Working Group (WG); a subgroup of the Canadian Aviation Regulations Advisory Council, in which COPA participates. This WG’s primary goal was to recommend ways of removing unnecessary bureaucratic burdens while maintaining or enhancing existing safety levels. In January 2007 the WG provided its report and among the 42 recommendations was the creation of an additional LSA category in Canada.

The report was accepted by CARAC in 2007 however senior Transport Canada officials directed that a Risk Assessment (RA) be conducted on the WG’s recommendations.

At a recent CARAC meeting 92 Notice of Proposed Amendments (NPAs) to the CARs were reviewed. COPA made a request for a time line for the implementation of NPAs regarding Sport Aviation including LSA. The response was that the RA was completed in January 2009, however before drafting NPAs based on this RA, TC elected to deal with a backlog of other NPAs that resulted from the reorganization of TC headquarters.

No firm date was provided, but we speculate that acceptance of the LSA category in Canada may be several years away.

Commercial Operations of LSA in Canada

Unfortunately, the Recreational Aircraft WG deliberations did not include any related personnel licensing aspects or any commercial operations conducted under Part IV or Part VII of the CARs. Consequently, the use of Light Sport Aircraft for flight training purposes has yet to be studied by CARAC.

COPA’s effort on the WG was to get LSA aircraft into Canada for recreational use but we have encouraged dealers, manufacturers and flight schools in Canada wanting to market LSA for commercial use to contact their representatives (ATAC, AQTA, etc…) to convince Transport Canada to permit commercial use of LSAs.

LSA currently only fit into one category in Canada - the Limited Class.

The Limited Class was developed to allow old out of production non-certified aircraft such as ex-military warbirds and non-certified experimental gliders, to be flown in Canada.

Even though LSA can fit in this class, putting a brand-new, mass-produced LSA in this Class was not TC's intention. Maintenance must be signed off by an AME and Commercial use in this Limited Class is restricted to CAR 702 Aerial Work operations, such as banner towing, aerial photography and crop spraying.

COPA will continue to push for LSA in Canada because it is a growing class of aircraft that is important to survival, fostering economic growth and developing interest in our sector of aviation.

Notes:

*US LSA are fully manufactured aircraft with a gross weight of 1,320 lbs and meet the ASTM rules, not a FAR 23 certified aircraft in the USA.

In Canada LSA are not a CAR 523 or CAR 523 VLA certified aircraft and are too heavy to be an Advanced Ultra-light Aeroplane (AULA) or Basic Ultra-light Aeroplane (BULA), as they are limited to 1,232 and 1,200 lbs. respectively.

LSA are typically aerodynamically sleek aluminum, fibreglass or carbon-fibre aircraft, using efficient no-lead fuel engines consuming between (14 to 18 l/hr) 3-4 gph and cruising at speeds up to (180-200 km/h) 110-120 mph; an ideal platform for flight schools, cross country flights and private ownership.