Technical

600kg Microlight FAQ

Experts from the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) answer 20 questions on the new 600kg Light Sport Microlight category

1 What exactly is allowed in the new 600kg Light Sport Microlight category?

Max weight: The clue is in the name 600kg MAUW. For a typical Rotax 912 powered two-seat aircraft the maximum empty weight is around 380kg with minimum equipment for operation at 600kg.

Max weight of pilot or passenger: The minimum pilot or passenger weight for calculating empty weight etc within the regulations is now 100kg per seat. If the manufacturer wants to design for higher then he can and there is no limit, i.e. Skyranger is designed for 120kg per seat. However although the seat load may be higher you may still need to trade cockpit load for fuel to keep within the AUW in exactly the same way you do for any aircraft, not just microlights.

Minimum weight: No minimum empty weight limit, but if single seat and it meets the SSDR definition – both weight (300kg AUW) and stall speed limits (35kt) – it cannot be issued with a Permit to Fly.

Max speed: No max speed limit, this is unchanged from previous microlight requirements.

Stall speed: Vso 45kt at max all up weight. This is listed in the definition.

Engine: Airworthiness codes are written for reciprocal engines including turbocharged and supercharged. For turbine engines BCAR Section S says consult with the CAA. Electric is also an option however the airworthiness requirements for this option are still very much work-in-progress. There is no limit to the number of engines that can be fitted. This is unchanged from previous microlight requirements.

Propeller: No limit on type and can be fixed, ground adjustable or in-flight adjustable. This is unchanged from previous microlight requirements.

Undercarriage: Fixed or retracting, or floats. This is unchanged from previous microlight requirements.

2 Can an existing 450kg microlight be flown with a 600kg max weight?

Only if the design has been approved at the higher weight as a microlight and it is listed on the TADS for the type. See below.

3 Can an existing 450kg microlight be recertified with 600kg max weight?

The design needs to be approved against BCAR Section S issue 8 (due to go to public consultation) or can be approved against CS-LSA or CS-VLA but with due consideration given to the 100kg minimum occupant weights.

4 Can I take an old Permit or Certified aircraft which meets the criteria and operate it as a 600kg microlight?

No. Certified aircraft cannot be re-approved as a microlight aircraft – see CAA document CAP2163 for details. Old Permit aircraft could be transitioned up to microlight status provided they have demonstrated compliance with the requirements. Note that a number of older Permit aircraft were not approved to a recognised design code and therefore it is not possible to satisfy this without a lot of extra work, also the original design date may no longer be available.

5 Can I buy one of the hotship 600kg microlights I’ve seen available in Germany or Italy, for example, and bring it to the UK to fly?

Not unless the type has been UK approved, and for factory manufactured aircraft the manufacturer needs to have UK CAA Approval. Note that there is no automatic approval between European countries and there has never been, so each country has its own set of rules. Each manufacturer usually ends up manufacturing country specific aircraft.

6 Do the changes apply to both fixed-wing and flexwing aircraft?

Yes, they apply equally to both types and a new flexwing has just been approved at 499kg.

7 Will 600kg helicopters be available?

Microlights are defined such that they do not include helicopters due to the stall speed requirements in the definition.

8 What aircraft are now approved in the 600kg category?

Technically 600kg encompasses all microlight aircraft and does not have a lower limit so all existing microlight aircraft should be included.

Types that have taken advantage of the new definition and have been approved at higher weights are as follows: Skyranger Nynja (600kg AUW), Eurofox (560kg AUW), Exodus DeltaJet 500 Stingray (499kg) and Sportstar SLM (600kg AUW).

9 What is expected to be approved over the next couple of years?

There are several other manufacturers who are keen to bring aircraft to the UK… but do not wish to be identified for the moment.

10 I have an NPPL with a microlight rating. Can I fly the new aircraft?

Yes. They are microlights and you can fly them using your microlight licence. You may need differences training, however. The BMAA has produced a guide to differences training, available on the BMAA website. It’s Technical Information Leaflet (TIL) 078.

11 I have a PPL(A) with an SEP rating. Can I fly the new aircraft?

You need to have a microlight rating in order to be able to fly microlights – and with good reason. Many pilots who have only flown heavier aircraft have been caught out by the different handling characteristics.

12 What medical do I need?

Microlight pilots usually fly on PMDs – pilot medical declarations.

13 What is the differences training required for an aircraft with equipment such as a glass cockpit, retractable undercarriage, variable pitch propeller, ballistic recovery chute or tailwheel?

See the BMAA guide on differences training for details. In the same way that your instructor decides when you can go solo, they can also decide when you have demonstrated you have received suitable differences training. There is no fixed syllabus.

14 Can an instructor used to training pilots on a 450kg microlight also train pilots on a 600kg aircraft?

If the microlight instructor has the relevant experience, then yes. An example is that a microlight instructor must have suitable experience on heavier-than-450kg microlights before s/he is able to instruct on them. Differences training also applies to instructors!

15 The 600kg Light Sport Microlight category sounds exactly the same as the 600kg Light Sport Aircraft category… what’s the difference and do we really need a different category?

Microlight flying is very affordable and accessible – certainly so when compared to EASA rules and regulations. Microlight owners can perform maintenance themselves, medicals are less onerous, costs are much lower and UK pilots benefit from the BMAA (and the LAA!) working to protect the relative freedoms that microlight pilots enjoy.

16 What difference will this make to microlight flying and the BMAA?

We already have 600kg class Light Sport Microlights flying in the UK. Existing 450kg microlights that were certified to 472.5kg with a ballistic parachute system but were flying without one can apply to use the extra 22.5kg as payload; this is a real bonus for 912 Rotax powered three-axis microlights. New, heavier versions of existing designs (such as the Skyranger) have been developed to take advantage of the extra weight and there are also other new types being introduced.

17 Both the BMAA and LAA are able to administer 600kg microlights – which should I choose and why?

Both organisations can administer Light Sport Microlights. The BMAA is dedicated to microlights and is working with several new suppliers to ensure that microlighting flourishes in the future. BMAA works hand in hand with suppliers to ensure they understand how to enter the UK market and then get the best ongoing support.

18 Has the CAA agreed the implementation process?

Yes. CAP 2163 sets out the rules and BMAA approved the first Light Sport Microlights on 19 November 2021.

19 Does this affect SSDR aircraft?
No. The SSDR rules haven’t changed.

20 Will a 600kg microlight cost more to insure?

Yes – possibly. The minimum third party and passenger liability cover increases from £1m to £1.75m for aircraft 500kg or heavier, though many pilots already have this level of cover. Also, the new Exodus DeltaJet flexwing is approved to 499kg to remain under that limit.

 

To see some of the aircraft that are, or might become available in the UK, check out our great feature here

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