Building on last issue’s topic of ‘Aren’t all RAAus aircraft Light Sport Aircraft’, in this article we ask the question – if it’s not an LSA, what is it?

Understanding the differences is important as operational and maintenance requirements differ between the certification bases. Confusion does come about especially when some of the early Jabiru models, for example, were called the LSA 55/2K, LSA 55/2J and the LSA 55/3J. These aircraft are not Light Sport Aircraft. They are type certified. What does this mean and why do I need to know this?

There are three streams of aircraft registration types:

  1. Amateur Built
  2. Light Sport Aircraft/Experimental
    Light Sport Aircraft
  3. Type Certified/Accepted

The prefixes have a purpose, which is to identify the certification basis. Prior to 2016, the 23-XXXX prefix for LSA did not exist. This prefix was established in the updated Technical Manual version 4. Type certified/accepted aircraft and LSA were issued with the 24-XXXX prefix prior to the update. Therefore, to quickly determine your certification basis for a 24-XXXX registered aircraft, check your registration certificate and review the construction field. This will state LSA or Type Certified. If the aircraft is LSA you must ensure the Special Certificate of Airworthiness is read, understood and onboard the aircraft.

What does type certified mean?

An aircraft is type certified when the make, model has been issued with a type certificate by a National Airworthiness Authority (NAA) such as CASA, EASA, the FAA or a competent issuing authority. A type certificate signifies the airworthiness of a particular category of aircraft, according to its manufacturing design (‘type’). It confirms that the aircraft is manufactured according to an approved design, and that the design ensures compliance with airworthiness requirements.

The type certificate will list compliance data such as the approved engine and propeller combinations. The type certificate also lists the MTOW permissible. In some cases, the pilots operating handbook lists a higher MTOW than what is listed on the type certificate. For a RAAus registered aircraft, it is the type certificate weight that is applicable to the aircraft’s operation.

A key area of difference between LSA and type certified aircraft are the requirements regarding modifications. Any modification to a LSA requires manufacturer approval in the form of a Letter of Approval, no matter how minor. A type certified aircraft may be modified in accordance with the type certificate or a supplemental type certificate. For example, multiple propeller types may be listed as options for fitting to the installed engine. If a propeller is fitted to a type certified aircraft and it is not a listed option then it is classed as a major modification, requiring an engineering order or RAAus Modification and Repair Approval.

Please see the RAAus Technical Manual at for further information.