My last blog entry outlined some interesting controversies about the Cessna 162. These are global issues for the aircraft type, but there are also some issues that affect this aircraft only in Canada.
I should start by pointing out that these issues have been known for quite a while, but they have no current solutions. I talked to Transport Canada this past week to confirm that this information is still current.
The primary question is - as a Canadian can you buy and fly a Cessna 162?.
The answer is "yes, sort of, maybe, depends."
If you are planning on buying a C-162 for private use then the answer is "probably". If you want to use it in a flight school operation then the answer is more complex and closer to "no".
The whole issue hinges on the status of the C-162. It is a fully manufactured aircraft with a gross weight of 1320 lbs that meets the ASTM rules for a US Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). It is not a FAR 23 certified aircraft.
In Canada the C-162 does not qualify to be a CAR 523 or CAR 523 VLA certified aircraft. It is too heavy to be an Advanced Ultra-light Aeroplane (AULA) or Basic Ultra-light Aeroplane (BULA), as they are limited to 1232 and 1200 lbs respectively. It only fits into one category in Canada - the Limited Class.
The Limited Class was really developed to allow old out of production non-certified aircraft to be flown in Canada, such as warbirds and non-certified experimental gliders. Even though the C-162 fits this class, putting brand-new, mass-produced Cessnas in it wasn't TC's intention and in talking to them recently they are still a bit uncomfortable with the notion.
If a private owner were to put a C-162 into the Limited Class then it could be flown like any other light aircraft. The only restriction would be that maintenance releases would have to be signed by an AME, not by the owner as in the US LSA class.
Aircraft in the Limited Class can be used for commercial use, but only for CAR 702 Aerial Work operations. This means banner towing, aerial photography, crop spraying, etc. It can't be used for flight training. To be honest there aren't too many aerial work applications for this small, 100 hp aircraft.
So what do you do if you want to use C-162s in your school? Well you could try applying for an exemption to the CARs, but don't count on it being approved.
The next question most people would ask is "So what is going to happen?"
There is some good news here. The CARAC Recreational Aviation Working Group which I chaired in 2005-06 actually addressed this exact issue. It recommended that the LSA category be established as an additional category in Canada, among other recommendations. That report was accepted by CARAC in 2007 and moved on towards the TC risk assessment and NPA drafting processes.
In talking with TC officials this past week I confirmed that the recommendations are still on the way to becoming rules, but that the massive reorganization that TC is currently going through have brought work to a stop on this and many other projects.
So when will the LSA be a category in Canada, allowing private ownership of C-162s with owner-maintenance and their use in flight schools?
The soonest I would look for this is in about ten years. Due to TC priorities (i.e. not small aircraft) and shortage of manpower at TCHQ, I think "never" is a better bet.
If you are thinking of buying a C-162, or any other LSA that doesn't qualify to be an AULA or BULA in Canada, for private use then contact TC Airworthiness before putting any money down. Find out if they will issue a Special Certificate of Airworthiness - Limited for it. Be prepared to have the maintenance signed off by an AME.
If you are thinking of buying a C-162, or any other LSA that doesn't qualify to be an AULA or BULA in Canada, for flight school use then contact your TC principal inspector before putting any money down. Find out if there is any chance of an exemption to operate the aircraft in school use. If not, it may be possible to put it in the Limited Class as a private aircraft and use it for rental only, as that use is not under your operating certificate.