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Dan Johnson's
Light-Sport Aircraft

SLSA Gyroplanes: A Disparity

The case for SLSA gyroplanes

The biggest barrier inhibiting light-sport gyroplanes in the US is the regulatory disparity that restricts light-sport gyroplanes from being factory-built and certificated as SLSA. Gyroplanes are the only category/class of aircraft among all the ones that Sport Pilots may choose to fly for which this is the case. Removing this regulatory disparity will do more to grow light-sport gyroplanes in the US than anything else.

This regulatory disparity discriminating against gyroplanes not only inhibits the growth of light-sport gyroplanes in the US, itís an obstacle to improving gyroplane training and itís detrimental to gyroplane safety.

The regulatory disparity appears in Section 21.190(a) of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). It reads

(a) Purpose. The FAA issues a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category to operate a light-sport aircraft, other than a gyroplane.

Itís those last four words in 21.190(a) that single out gyroplanes from all other categories/classes of aircraft that Sport Pilots may fly. They restrict gyroplanes from being certificated as SLSA and effectively prevent Sport Pilots from flying factory-built light-sport gyroplanes.

The SLSA airworthiness certificate

Outside of ultralights, which the FAA refers to as ďvehiclesĒ, an airworthiness certificate is an essential document thatís necessary for an aircraft to be legally eligible to be flown. Each individual aircraft must have its own airworthiness certificate. There are different kinds of airworthiness certificates, each kind reflecting the purpose of the aircraft. Each kind of airworthiness certificate has regulatory provisions associated with it that dictate, among other things, the provisions for which the aircraft can be used and under what provisions it can be built.

Airworthiness certificates are categorized by a hierarchy of class, category, and purpose. At the highest level, there are two classes of airworthiness certificates: Standard and Special.

Standard airworthiness certificates are issued to aircraft that are type certificated, those that can be used for the most extensive range of commercial purposes. For example, standard airworthiness certificates are issued to type certificated aircraft ranging from DC-10 airliners to Cessna 172s. The Standard airworthiness certificate class has several categories; for example, Normal, Utility, Commuter, and Transport.

The other class of airworthiness certificate is Special, which restricts more severely the commercial uses of aircraft. A Special airworthiness certificate may be issued for some type certificated aircraft to limit them to specific commercial applications; for example, Agricultural. More commonly, though, a Special Airworthiness certificate is issued to aircraft that arenít type certificated.

The Special class of airworthiness certificate has its own categories; for example, Primary, Restricted, Limited, Experimental, and Light-Sport. The Light-Sport category was added in conjunction with the LSA/SP regulations.

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Light-Sport Gyroplanes:
An introductory guide

Click to view 'Light-Sport Gyroplanes' at
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The 2017 supplement for
Light-Sport Gyroplanes

Click to view 'MORE Light-Sport Gyroplanes' at
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Click to view 'The Gyroplane Calendar Book for 2020' at
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