A weight-shift control Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) kit is based on a certified S-LSA certified design, but built as a kit by the owner/operator. This kit can be as simple as bolting on the wheels, to more assembly required. This is not the classical 51% rule where the owner must fabricate and assemble 51% or more which is called an “amature built” (home built) aircraft. It cannot be used for instruction nor hire. It can be maintained in a condition for safe flight by the owner/operator. Some of the older 2 place ultralight trainers and fat ultralights are also E-LSA grandfathered in before January 31, 2008, (heavier than 254 pound ultralight, OR carries 2 people OR holds more than 5 gallons of fuel).

Sport pilots may fly weight-shift control (WSC) sport trikes certificated in many of the experimental aircraft categories, including experimental light-sport aircraft, experimental amateur-built, and experimental exhibition.

Experimental light-sport aircraft

As a sport pilot, you can fly a sport trike experimental weight-shift control light-sport aircraft (E-LSA). You can use use your trike for sport and recreation flying. You can have flight training in your own E-LSA. If you have an E-LSA kit or plan built trike that does not conform to amateur-built certification requirements and will be certificated in the E-LSA category it must be based on an aircraft that has received a special LSA (S-LSA) airworthiness certificate.

You must operate your trike E-LSA in accordance with the operating limitations issued to the aircraft at the time it receives its airworthiness certification. It must be maintained in accordance with regulations as they apply to E-LSA. The trike annual condition inspection may be conducted by the owner with a LSA repairman/inspection rating (16 hour course), a LSA repairman with a WSC maintenance rating (107 hour course), an airframe and powerplant (A & P) mechanic, or a FAA certified repair station.

Experimental amateur-built aircraft

If your sport trike is experimental amateur-built that meet the definition of an LSA you may fly it as a sport pilot. If the trike is certificated as experimental amateur-built you must operate it in accordance with the operating limitations issued to the aircraft at the time it received its airworthiness certification.

An experimental amateur-built or “homebuilt” trike must have the major portion of the fabrication and assembly tasks be performed by the person(s) building the trike for their own education and recreation. (This is commonly referred to as the “51% rule”.) These trikes can be flown by a sport pilot under the LSA regulations as long as they meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft as outlined in FAR Part 1.1. You can fly these trikes for sport or recreation, but you cannot use them for flight training for hire or rental. However, you can be trained in your own experimental amateur-built trike.

The maintenance rules for these trikes have not changed as a result of the sport pilot regulations. Your trike must be maintained and inspected in accordance with regulations as they pertain to amateur-built aircraft. The aircraft annual condition inspection may be performed by the original primary builder who is issued the repairman certificate for the aircraft by the FAA after completion. A light-sport repairman with a maintenance rating, an A & P mechanic, or a certified repair station can also perform this annual condition inspection. If the origional owner sells the experimental amateur-built to a new owner, the new owner must get its annual inspection from a light-sport repairman with a maintenance rating, an A & P mechanic, or a certified repair station.

Part 21 rules referenced

§ 21.191 Experimental Certificates
Experimental certificates are issued for the following purposes:
(a) Research and development. Testing new aircraft design concepts, new aircraft equipment, new aircraft installations, new aircraft operating techniques, or new uses for aircraft.

(b) Showing compliance with regulations. Conducting flight tests and other operations to show compliance with the airworthiness regulations including flights to show compliance for issuance of type and supplemental type certificates, flights to substantiate major design changes, and flights to show compliance with the function and reliability requirements of the regulations.

(c) Crew training. Training of the applicant’s flight crews.

(d) Exhibition. Exhibiting the aircraft’s flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics at air shows, motion picture, television, and similar productions, and the maintenance of exhibition flight proficiency, including (for persons exhibiting aircraft) flying to and from such air shows and productions.

(e) Air racing. Participating in air races, including (for such participants) practicing for such air races and flying to and from racing events.

(f) Market surveys. Use of aircraft for purposes of conducting market surveys, sales demonstrations, and customer crew training only as provided in § 21.195.

(g) Operating amateur built aircraft. Operating an aircraft the major portion of which has been fabricated and assembled by persons who undertook the construction project solely for their own education or recreation.
{New-2004-17 (h) revised July 27, 2004, effective September 1, 2004. Was “(h) Operating kit-built aircraft.”}

(h) Operating primary kit-built aircraft. Operating a primary category aircraft that meets the criteria of § 21.24(a)(1) that was assembled by a person from a kit manufactured by the holder of a production certificate for that kit, without the supervision and quality control of the production certificate holder under § 21.184(a).

{New-2004-17 (i) added July 27, 2004, effective September 1, 2004}
(i) Operating light-sport aircraft. Operating a light-sport aircraft that–

(1) Has not been issued a U.S. or foreign airworthiness certificate and does not meet the provisions of § 103.1 of this chapter. An experimental certificate will not be issued under this paragraph for these aircraft after January 31, 2008;

(2) Has been assembled–
(i) From an aircraft kit for which the applicant can provide the information required by § 21.193(e); and
(ii) In accordance with manufacturer’s assembly instructions that meet an applicable consensus standard; or

(3) Has been previously issued a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category under § 21.190.

§ 21.193 Experimental Certificates: General
An applicant for an experimental certificate must submit the following information:
(a) A statement, in a form and manner prescribed by the Administrator setting forth the purpose for which the aircraft is to be used.
(b) Enough data (such as photographs) to identify the aircraft.
(c) Upon inspection of the aircraft, any pertinent information found necessary by the Administrator to safeguard the general public.
(d) In the case of an aircraft to be used for experimental purposes –
(1) The purpose of the experiment;
(2) The estimated time or number of flights required for the experiment;
(3) The areas over which the experiment will be conducted; and
(4) Except for aircraft converted from a previously certificated type without appreciable change in the external configuration, three view drawings or three view dimensioned photographs of the aircraft.

{New-2004-17 (e) added July 27, 2004, effective September 1, 2004}
(e) In the case of a light-sport aircraft assembled from a kit to be certificated in accordance with § 21.191(i)(2), an applicant must provide the following:
(1) Evidence that an aircraft of the same make and model was manufactured and assembled by the aircraft kit manufacturer and issued a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category.
(2) The aircraft’s operating instructions.
(3) The aircraft’s maintenance and inspection procedures.
(4) The manufacturer’s statement of compliance for the aircraft kit used in the aircraft assembly that meets § 21.190(c), except that instead of meeting § 21.190(c)(7), the statement must identify assembly instructions for the aircraft that meet an applicable consensus standard.
(5) The aircraft’s flight training supplement.
(6) In addition to paragraphs (e)(1) through (e)(5) of this section, for an aircraft kit manufactured outside of the United States, evidence that the aircraft kit was manufactured in a country with which the United States has a Bilateral Airworthiness Agreement concerning airplanes or a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement with associated Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness concerning airplanes, or an equivalent airworthiness agreement.