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Registering Light Sport Aircraft

by Julie A. Stanford
Reprinted with permission from FAA Aviation News

There's much anticipation of Aircraft and Airmen for the Operation of Light-Sport Aircraft. While this rulemaking affects the certification and operation of light-sport aircraft and certification of pilots, flight instructors, and repairmen, it must be stressed that aircraft that fit into this 'new' category must first be issued a U.S. registration certificate before they are eligible to obtain an airworthiness certificate.

It's believed there are 14,000 or more of these 'new' category aircraft that have not been registered and are operating as ultra lights. These 'fat' ultra light vehicles don't meet the regulatory definition of Part 103 because they are larger, heavier, and faster than specified in that rule. The light sport rulemaking, when effective, will provide a 24-month window in which to register these existing aircraft, as well as a 36-month window (inclusive of the 24-month window for registration) to obtain airworthiness certification. If these existing 'fat' ultra light vehicles are not registered within the allowed 24 months, their opportunity to register will vanish.

The Civil Aviation Registry's Aircraft Registration Branch (Registry) will begin accepting Aircraft Registration Applications, AC Forms 8050-1, for light-sport aircraft on the effective date of the final rule. Applications received prior to that date will be returned. Owners of current 'fat' ultra light vehicles will be required to submit an Affidavit of Ownership for Light-Sport Aircraft, AC Form 8050-88A, along with their application. Owners of newly manufactured light-sport aircraft will be required to submit evidence of ownership, such as an ink-signed bill of sale from the aircraft manufacturer.

Applications for registration of light-sport aircraft will be processed by the Registry in the normal course of business, in order of the date of receipt. It is anticipated that the addition of 28,000+ documents (a bill of sale or affidavit of ownership, plus an application for registration for each of the 14,000+ aircraft) will increase the Registry's processing time. The amount of increase in processing time will be determined by the manner in which applications are received. Applicants should be aware that waiting to near the end of the 24-month period to submit their documents could result in greater delays.

The purchaser of an aircraft that has been previously registered in the United States can operate for up to 90 days on the 'pink' copy of the aircraft registration application form, pending issuance of the new Certificate of Aircraft Registration. The 'pink' copy acts as temporary authority to operate the aircraft without registration. There are, however, no provisions for existing aircraft in this new light-sport category to operate on the 'pink' copy because they have not been previously registered. Regulations require that once a U.S. aircraft is registered, it must have a valid airworthiness certificate before it may be legally operated. Airworthiness cannot be issued prior to initial registration.

An owner of an aircraft that has not previously been registered in the United States must obtain an identification number (N-number). If the applicant does not request a specific identification number, the Registry will assign the next available number at no charge. An applicant may, however, request that any unassigned United States identification number be assigned. A request for a special number, accompanied by a $10 fee, should be submitted with the applicant's registration documents. A search for available identification numbers may be made on the Registry's web site. The web site is updated each business day.

Please watch the Registry's web site for future information regarding light-sport aircraft. As more information becomes available, updates will be provided.

Julie Stanford is the Assistant Manager of the Civil Aviation Registry, AFS-700, in Oklahoma City, OK.

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