Ask the DAR

More on LSA registration, weight.

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I read your article Understanding the Differences in the Light Sport Category in the August 2009 issue. I am still a little confused. Could you answer the following questions:

I am building a RANS S-19 kit.I am under the impression that I am responsible for proving to the FAA that I built 51% of this plane.Does that make it an Experimental/Amateur-Built (EAB)?

I heard that the Vans RV-12 kit must be built exactly as the RV-12 prototype that Vans is flying. I understand that the RANS S-19 that I am building can be built with modifications as I choose.Can you explain these differences between the RV-12 and the S-19?

Can a builder purchase a Vans RV-12 and build it with modifications under the Experimental/Amateur-Built rule?

Answer: The RANS S-19 is a Light Sport compliant amateur-built kit. You are correct in that you will be responsible for showing that you built a major portion of the aircraft. The aircraft will be certificated as an Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft. The Light Sport compliant simply means that if built according to the plans, it will meet Light Sport parameters and may be flown by a Sport Pilot.

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The RV-12 is offered as an ELSA kit. This means it must conform exactly to the SLSA on which the ELSA kit is based and will be certificated as an Experimental Light Sport Aircraft. After certification, you may make modifications to the RV-12 as long as the mod doesn’t take the aircraft out ofLight Sport parameters.

The RV-12 may be built as an Experimental/Amateur-Built and include changes from the original design. However, if you chose this route, you must show that you built a major portion of the aircraft, and if you intend to fly it as a Sport Pilot, it is up to you to show that any changes you made didn’t take it out of Light Sport parameters. Also, remember that the kit was designed as an ELSA, so if you decide to build it as an amateur-built, the kit manufacturer will probably not be able toassist you with any changes you decide to make.

I spoke with Randy Schlitter to confirm that RANS does notoffer an ELSA kit at this time. Before a kit manufacturer can offer an ELSA kit, it must first certificate a Special Light Sport Aircraft on which to base the ELSA. One of the reasons that many kit manufacturers don’t offer an ELSA option is that their name goes on the Airworthiness Certificate as builder. And even though the owner may make modifications to the aircraft later, the kit manufacturer is still listed as builder.

Question: I built a RANS S-7 in 2002, and its been a super plane. When I registered it, the weight and balance sheet from RANS showed a 1200-pound maximum gross weight, and I have lived with that. Now with the Light Sport RANS S-7, the gross is 1320 pounds, same plane. Can I change my gross weight to 1320 pounds, and what would I need to do to make that change?

Answer: You can change the gross weight of your RANS S7. First, you should contact RANS and make sure that the company didn’t make structural changes when the gross weight was changed. If the factory approves the increased weight on your particular aircraft, you should be fine. If not, then you would be on your own. Regardless, you would need to put the aircraft back into Phase I flight test for at least 5 hours and complete testing to the new gross weight.

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