28 October 2010

Light Sport Aircraft in Canada - Some Background

With the upcoming visit to Ottawa this weekend (30/31 October 2010) of the first Cessna 162 Skycatcher to visit Canada I thought it was probably a good idea to review the rules for this aircraft. The C-162 is being brought to Ottawa on a demo tour by Anna Pangrazzi of the Canadian Cessna representative, Leggat Aviation.

I have written before about the C-162 in April 2008 and outlined some of the controversies surrounding the lightest plane Cessna has ever built:

*The Cessna 162 SkyCatcher in Canada

*The New Cessna 162 SkyCatcher - Three Controversies for the Price of One!

To get some updated background on this visit I contacted Transport Canada to see what the options are in 2010 for registering a C-162 in Canada. Basically not much has changed since 2008. The C-162 was designed to be a US Light Sport Aircraft and that category still does not exist in Canada. Back in 2005/06 the Transport Canada Recreational Aviation Working Group that I chaired recommended that the LSA category be adopted as an additional category in Canada. That report was accepted by TC, but it still hasn't happened and is unlikely to happen for many years to come. The reasons for that are complex, but in essence the increased workload created by the attempt by TC to allow the business aircraft sector to self-regulate and the requirement to bring all that work back in house has created so much work for TC that all other initiatives have been put on hold, including bringing LSA to Canada.

Otherwise the Cessna 162 is still a manufactured aircraft with a gross weight of 1320 lbs that doesn't fit into the basic ultralight, advanced ultralight, certified or amateur-built categories in Canada. It fits the Limited Class, but in the past TC senior staff expressed some reservations about putting the C-162 in it. The class was intended for long out of production warbirds and not new mass production aircraft. That reluctance is gone and the way seems cleared for registering imported C-162s as Limited Class aircraft under the new Limited Class rules. Putting the aircraft in the Limited Class means that maintenance must be signed off by an AME and that the aircraft cannot be used for commercial use, including flight training, although aerial work is allowed (banner towing, crop spraying). There isn't much aerial work that this small aircraft could be used for, however.

This all means that the C-162 is a viable aircraft for private ownership in Canada, but not flight school use. The requirement for AME maintenance will make the costs higher than buying a similar AULA, however.

It is also possible for flight schools to use it as a rental aircraft for solo rentals outside their flying training operating certificate, but not for flight training. I am not sure how a school would check someone out on the aircraft, though!

Meanwhile some of the controversies surrounding the 162 that I wrote about in April 2008 still remain. The outsourcing of production to Shenyang Aircraft in China is actually more controversial today than it was in 2008. Back then it was justified by the company because Cessna was out of plant capacity, but since then they have laid off more than half their workers and seem unlikely to hire many of them back in the near future. It is much harder to justify contracting out to China when more than half your own workforce is out of work.

The other controversy remaining is the 162's payload carrying capacity. Cessna still reports the 162's standard empty weight as 834 lbs, which, with full fuel (144 lbs), leaves only 342 lbs for people and baggage, making it not much of a two-seater. I am very keen to see the empty weight on the demo plane and see if it makes that empty weight or if the production bird is actually heavier or lighter. Hopefully we will all have a chance to check it out this weekend, VFR weather permitting.


James Lawrence said...

Hi Adam, thanks for the update on Canadian light sport efforts. I'll probably reference you in my blog for Plane & Pilot (have to read through it all first) but wanted to say in the meantime the lightest plane Cessna ever built was I think the C-120, predecessor to the 140 and 150, which was 770 lbs., about 60 lbs. less than the Skycatcher.

Great blog site! Keep up the good work

Jim Lawrence
LSA Ed., Plane & Pilot magazine

Adam Hunt said...

That is probably true, but I was thinking of gross weight not empty weight! The C-120 and 140 were 1,450 lb gross vs the 162's 1320 lbs.

It does show the difference in useful load though, 770 empty with a 1,450 lb gross is a lot more lifting capacity than a 834 empty with a 1320 lb gross.