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Jan 2010: Final Ultralight to Light Sport Deadline

When the FAA enacted the Sport Pilot / Light Sport Aircraft rule in September 2004 they provided a series of transition milestones. January 2010 is the last remaining milestone and affects the owners of some ELSA aircraft. These owners fall into the following three groups:

  • Owners who registered their ultralights as Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (ELSA) by January 2008 but have not yet received an airworthiness certificate,
  • Owners who have a training exemption for their ELSA aircraft and an expiration date of January 2010 on their airworthiness certificate, and
  • Owners who are Sport Pilot instructors (SP-CFI) using their ELSA with training exemption to provide flight training. All of the owners of the ELSA aircraft above have important actions to take to keep their aircraft legally flyable. In addition, SP-CFIs must transition to Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA) or get a letter of deviation from their local FSDO if they want to continue to pro-vide flight instruction. Let me address each group separately below.

ELSA Registered without Airworthiness Certificates

Late in 2007 the FAA approved an extension to the ultralight transition milestone of January 2008. According to the original milestone owners of fat ultralights (ultralights that did not meet the Part 103 requirements) had until January 2008 to transition their aircraft to ELSA. By transition the FAA meant both applying for and receiving FAA form 8050-3 (aircraft registration form; see figure 1) and FAA form 8130 7 (airworthiness certificate; see figure 2). But because there was a shortage of aircraft registry personnel to handle the registration applications and a shortage of Designated Airworthiness Representatives (DARs) to handle the issuance of airworthiness applications the FAA modified the January 2008 deadline to the following:

  • Registration: The aircraft owner must apply for his/her registration on or before January 31, 2008, and
  • Airworthiness Certificate: The aircraft owner must receive his/her airworthiness certificate on or before January 31, 2010. So, if you applied for your ELSA registration on or before January 31, 2008 you should have al-ready received your FAA form 8050-3. If you haven’t received this all important registration card you had better follow up on it because you can’t take the next step until you do. Assuming you have your 8050-3 in hand but have not applied for your airworthiness certificate yet then you have until the end of January 2010 to both apply and receive your certificate. After that date your aircraft will be forever barred from fl ying as a light sport aircraft. The only option open to you then is to register your aircraft as an Exhibition Aircraft, which I will not be covering here. Suffice it to say that the Exhibition route is NOT the way you want to go. You will find it harder, more expensive, and MUCH more restrictive than registering your aircraft as an ELSA. For a list of DARs in your area to help you take that final step go to visit/aviation_industry/designees_delega-tions/designee_types/media/DARDirec-tory.pdf. You are looking for DARs who have “Function: 47” for your type of aircraft. For ex ample, if you lived in Virginia and looked under “DAR – Manufacturing Virginia” you would find two DARs of which only Terri Sipantzi has function code 47 for weight shift control only. If you look under “DAR – Maintenance Virginia” you will find three DARs of which only one has function code 47 for airplanes only. So make sure you look at both the “Manufacturing” and the “Maintenance” DAR sections to find the closest DAR with function code 47 and the authority to inspect your type of aircraft. Again, you must receive your airworthiness certificate before the end of January 2010 or you will never be able to transition your aircraft to ELSA. Don’t miss this date!

ELSA Aircraft with Training Exemption and Expiring Airworthiness Certificates

This section applies to all ELSA owners whose airworthiness certificates (form 8130 7) expire in January 2010. Figure 2 is a picture of an expiring 8130 7. Note that this certificate actually expires January 30, 2010. The only 8130 7s that were issued with expiration dates were those, which were issued in conjunction with operating limitations allowing the use of the aircraft for training purposes. The FAA allowed ELSA aircraft to be used for commercial training purposes over a period of five years to give instructors time to transition to SLSA aircraft.

For those of you with expiring airworthiness certificates you must go to your local FAA FSDO and have them issue you a new airworthiness certificate with “Unlimited” in the “EXPIRY” box and a new set of Operating Limitations minus the training ex emption. And you need to do this BEFORE your current airworthiness certificate expires. If you don’t your aircraft will cease to be an ELSA and there is no way for you to ever get it back into that category. Instructors with ELSA Aircraft The last category is sport pilot CFIs using their aircraft for training. As I said earlier CFIs were permitted to use their ELSA air-craft for training, providing they had re quested and expressly received training authorization in their aircraft’s operating limitations. That privilege runs out on January 31, 2010 or on the date the airworthiness certificate expires – whichever occurs first. After January 31, 2010 the same rules regarding experimental aircraft and training apply to ELSAs just as they already apply to other experimental aircraft. What does that mean to you the CFI? It means this:

  • First, you cannot provide training in your ELSA aircraft unless your local FSDO gives you a letter of deviation in accordance with 14 CFR 91.319(h).
  • Second, you can provide training in the customer’s ELSA but not until the Phase I testing is complete. One last word on this topic and then I am done. There are rumors running rampant that the FAA is going to extend the January 2010 deadline. But to the best of my knowledge (and the knowledge of others close to the FAA) none of the ultralight organizations have petitioned the FAA for an extension. Consequently, I would have to conclude that the rumors are just that – rumors. If you really think you have a case to be made for offering training in an ELSA after January 2010 then you should look up 14 CFR 91.319(h) and go talk to your FSDO.


Terri Sipantzi is the Owner/Operator of Precision Windsports, Inc. based in Lynchburg, VA. Precision Windsports is a full service (sales, training, and maintenance) weight-shift light sport aircraft dealer specializing in AirBorne Trikes. Terri’s qualifications include Commercial/Instrument SEL, Sport Pilot CFI WSC, FAA Designated Pilot and Instructor Examiner WSC, Light Sport Repairman with Maintenance rating (airplane, WSC, and PPC), and FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative (WSC). He is a frequent contributor to magazines such as “EAA Light Sport” and “Ultraflight Magazine.” You can reach Terri at


Light Aviation Edition May 2009

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