Our manufactured S-LSA aircraft are also available as kits. They can be built as E-LSA (Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft)or as experimental amateur-built aircraft. It is important to know the difference between these two categories.
First of all, an E-LSA (or S-LSA) must meet certain performance requirements. It must not have a gross weight greater than 1320 lb. or 1430 lb. if operated from water. It must have fixed gear (repositionable if operated from water)and a ground-adjustable only propeller. Finally, it must not have a cruise speed greater than 120 knots/132 mph.
An amateur-built aircraft is governed by the 51% rule. That is, 51% of the kit has to be completed by the builder/owner. This is an important distinction since there is no such requirement for an E-LSA. As well, only the original builder or an A&P can work on an amateur-built airplane while an E-LSA builder may take a course that allows him to do all the work on an E-LSA. An E-LSA may be flown by a person holding a Light-Sport pilot licence. An amateur-built can only be flown by a Light-Sport pilot if it meets the requirements of an LSA. Finally, an amateur-built airplane is required to be flown for 40 hours within the builder's local area before passengers may be carried. An E-LSA requires 5 hours.
A manufacturer must first build an S-LSA airplane before they can offer an E-LSA version of it. This is an important distinction for kit buyers as it is a good indicator of the ease with which the kit can be built. An airplane that takes so long to build that it is economically impractical to offer it as a manufactured S-LSA will not be a quick build despite what the manufacturer states in their advertising.
When choosing to build a kit airplane one must be very careful to insure that it can be registered as an E-LSA. Some manufacturers say their kits are LSA compliant. What this means is the airplane meets the LSA rules for speed and weight but it can't actually be registered as an E-LSA - it must be registered as an amateur-built. In our opinion, an LSA kit should be registered as an E-LSA. A few years down the road, it will be worth more than a comparable airplane registered as an amateur-built.