LSA Repairman: Maintenance or Inspection Rating?

There is no doubt that by now you’ve heard all about it – The Light-Sport Rule established a new repairman certificate with two ratings (Ref: 14 CFR §65.107): Inspection and Maintenance.

As a provider of both the 16- hour repairman inspection courses and the 80-120 hour repairman maintenance courses, I field phone calls daily from aircraft owners who are confused about the differences between the privileges of the two ratings.

Will the 16 hour inspection course allow me to perform the maintenance or just the inspections on my experimental light sport aircraft? If I attend the maintenance course will I be able to perform the inspections on my amateur-built aircraft? Does the maintenance course allow me to perform the inspections on my Piper Cub? If I take the airplane inspection course, may I inspect my powered parachute?

The confusion is evident. The purpose of this article is to explain the repairman certificate, the two ratings, and associated privileges (and the little known advantages).

Remember the various maintenance requirements of any aircraft will follow the aircraft certification. The light sport rule created two new categories of aircraft with distinctly different maintenance requirements: Special Light Sport (SLSA) the factory built, ready to fly, light sport aircraft, and  Experimental Light Sport (ELSA). It is important to note that  ELSA can be certificated in one of three ways. (1)  the transitioning ultralights (available only until January 31, 2008,) (2)  the ASTM complaint kits-, and (3) a SLSA moved  (by a paperwork process) to ELSA category.

So, as I mentioned, there is only one repairman certificate, but two ratings: The “repairman (light sport) with an Inspection rating” (LSRI) and the "Repairman (light-sport aircraft)--Maintenance rating.” (LSRM) The inspection rating is available by attending a 16 hour, two day repairman course.  The maintenance rating is only available by attending a much longer 80-120 hour Repairman course.

As a sport pilot flying an ELSA for pleasure, you only need the 16 hour inspection course. Classes are normally schedule on the weekend. Successful completion of the course will allow you to perform annual condition inspections on any ELSA in the assigned “class” of the selected course (airplane, weight shift, powered parachute, glider, gyroplane, or lighter-than-air) which you own or purchases in the future that are certificated in the E-LSA category in any of the three ways listed above.

However, if you fly two different classes of aircraft, say, airplane and weight shift, then you will have to take one 16 hour inspection course for weight shift and another 16 hour inspection course for airplane.

The good news: There are no renewal requirements for your certificate, once you earn it, and there are no limits on how many aircraft in the select class you may own. Additionally, all maintenance is already allowed. There is no requirement for a repairman certificate to perform maintenance on your E-LSA. This is important because after you convert your aircraft, you will have one year until you need to have completed the required repairman inspection course. (It is easy to schedule a 16 hour inspection course at your location. Rainbow Aviation  travels with the course for a small additional fee.)

Additionally, ultralights which are converted into E-LSA may be used commercially for flight training until January 2010 if the owner requests the optional operating limit. When used commercially, the aircraft must undergo a "100-hour" inspection, in addition to the annual conditional inspection.

Many aircraft owners (and flight instructors) don't realize that only a repairman with a "Maintenance" rating can perform the 100-hour inspection (or an A&P mechanic.)  Someone with the "Inspection" rating may not do the 100-hour inspection. It is common for a flight instructor to inadvertently signed up for an inspection course not realizing that every 100 hours of flight training, he/she will have to find an A&P or a Repairman with a Maintenance rating to perform each 100 hour inspection. Additionally, most A&Ps will not look at tube and fabric aircraft or Rotax engines. In fact, there is a possibility that even A&P mechanics will not be able to work on some models of the S-LSA. The FAA is leaving it up to the manufacturer who certifies the S-LSA to specify in the Maintenance Manual exactly who may work on the aircraft. A manufacturer may deem that an A&P who wants to maintain a S-LSA must attend a 120-hour class, or a certain modules of the training (discussed below) or perhaps some task specific training.

In addition to the 100 hour inspections, the maintenance rating  allows you to perform all maintenance and conditional inspections on Special light-sport aircraft.  However, unlike the Repairman-Inspection rating, a person with the Repairman-Maintenance rating can perform maintenance and inspections on anyone's S-LSA or E-LSA and charge for his/her services. For this reason, he is sometimes referred to as a "Sport Mechanic." There are no prerequisites for the training course. In fact, a Repairman with a Maintenance rating need not even be a pilot. However, the Repairman with a maintenance rating may not perform the annual inspection on amateur built aircraft or standard certificated aircraft- only Light Sport Aircraft.

 The S-LSA repairman maintenance rating training course is designed using modules of instruction that can be customized to the specific class of S-LSA the repairman will maintain. There are three required “core” modules, and five elective “class” modules. The minimum training time for each class is: Airplane: 120 hours, Weight Shift: 104 hours, and Powered Parachute: 104 hours. Participants may take the three core modules and add an “elective.”

Below is a list of the modules pertinent to the various class of LSA.

Core Modules:
Module 1 (16 hours) Regulatory
Module 2 (35 hours) Airframe
Module 3 (45 hours) Engine

Electives Modules:
Module 4 (24 hours) Airplane class
Module 5 (19 hours) Weight Shift
Module 6 (19 hours) Powered Chute
Module 7 (64 hours) Lighter-than-air
Module 8 (40 hours) Glider

For example, if you attend a course to obtain a Repairman-Maintenance rating to work on airplanes, you would take a 120-hour course consisting of modules 1, 2, 3, and 4. If you later wanted authorization to work on weight shift aircraft, you would only need to take module number 5. If you are only interested in weight shift aircraft, you would take 1,2,3,and 5.

Unfortunately, if you take a 16-hour course before taking a 120-hour course you do not get any credit for having taken the 16-hour course.

Interested in a new career? The job opportunities for the repairman with a maintenance rating are huge. Light sport manufacturers and dealers in the light sport industry will all require a light sport repairman to perform maintenance on their aircraft after they are certificated. Additionally, flight schools will need LSRM for the required 100 hour inspections. Not to mention the opportunities for new light sport maintenance facilities. Also, there are two huge little known- advantages available to a Repairman with a maintenance rating:

1.  FAA Order 8130.33 allows for this rating as a stepping-stone to the DAR (Designated Air worthiness Representative.) See quote below

"(2) Holds a light-sport aircraft repairman certificate - maintenance rating and has performed a minimum of five condition inspections on light-sport aircraft or two-place ultralight training vehicle of the same class and complexity of aircraft for which authorization is sought or;"

2. The repairman may also keep a portfolio of his work and apply for authorization to take the A&P written and practical exams for general aviation after working in the field for 30 + months under his/her own supervision.

For more information on the repairman courses visit Rainbow Aviation Services website or email [email protected], call Carol Carpenter at 530-824-0644.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)


Hi Carol,
I have heard that there is a course that the owner of an SLSA aircraft could take that would allow him to do maintence only on his specific N number. And that if he sold the SLSA and bought another SLSA that he would have to retake the course for that N number aircraft inorder to do his own maintence. The rumor has it that this course is less expensive than the 120hr. course.
Is this true?

The Light Sport Rule created one Repairman certificate with two ratings: inspection and maintenance

The rule also allows for an owner to move an SLSA to ELSA. Of course, this option with effect the value of
the aircraft on resale since it can do longer be used for hire.

The 2 day course will allow you to complete the condition inspection and maintenance is allowed on
any experimental aircraft already.

However- if you want your aircraft to remain in the SLSA category you would need the 120 hour course:
the Repairman with the Maintenance rating to perform line maintenance and inspections.

Carol Carpenter, Rainbow Aviation Services

After you get your ratings to fix your own aircraft, I've got a Do-It-Yourself Heart Transplant course for sale! Would any of you get on a 767 with a self-taught ATP pilot? Of course not... If you can't afford the maintenance, you can't afford the aircraft! Get serious or get dead!

This course is an FAA approved comprehensive course producing profession light sport mechanics. These mechanics are professionally taught and supported in the field after successful completion of the course

It seems a little harsh to compare an LSA Repairman rating to a self taught 767 pilot or a do-it-yourself heart transplant. The FAA approved course detailed above seems pretty serious to me. The rating looks like a lot more than someone just feeling the need to "fix thier own aricraft."

Let me provide an overview of our instructors' backgrounds:
Course Instructors: Brian is an A&P IA issued in 1983. He is also a Certified Flight Instructor with over 8,000 hours in over 300 different types of aircraft. He has built over 30 experimental aircraft and is the designer of the "Ranger" airplane. He is a DAR for light sport and amateur built aircraft, a Sport Pilot Examiner, and an experimental aircraft test pilot. Carol is a Sport Pilot Instructor, an FAA Ground Instructor with an Advance Rating, an private pilot, a member of ASTM, a FAAST representative, an aviation columnist, and she holds a California teaching credential. Together Brian and Carol have written two aviation books and in 2006, Carol and Brian Carpenter received The John Moody Award, ultralight aviation's highest and most prestigious award.
In addition to serving the general aviation community Brian and Carol were ultralight instructors and Quicksilver dealers long before the Light Sport Rule.
In Corning Ca Carol and Brian run a full service FBO

It's not harsh, it's reality! I've seen these "enthusiasts" up close and personal for over 30 years and I'm telling you they have more dollars than sense! Granted, the majority of the LSA candidates are well-educated people some even bordering on genius but remember, you can't teach common sense!

Some of you tout the fact that it's an FAA accredited course and that's a joke. The FAA is behind the power curve for the certification of real mechanics and IAs. It's a serious industry-wide problem that's currently being discussed among all the professional letter groups and within the FAA. The LSA certification was politically motivated and exdpediantly hustled thru as a political quid pro quo. Just look at the numbers! How many LSA applicants have ever failed the test or have been denied the certification? The best this course does is teach you how to take the test! The people espousing the merits of taking these classes are snake oil salesmen looking to line their pockets-nothing more!

Call me cynical, call me pessimistic or call me an old dog set in his ways but you can't call me ignorant. I've put my 30+ years in this business and I know what I've seen. And what I've seen tells me you should leave the maintenance to the professionals...

It sounds as though Bob feels concerned that aircraft ownership and maintenance is becoming less costly and more available to more enthusiasts, which is the intent of LSA in general. Standard FFA certificated aircraft and costs of ownership / maintenance are too expensive for most people to consider. You can put 6 new Porschas in your driveway for the cost of an entry Cessna 172. But they won't each require a 2-5,000$ annual..., a hangar, and 5$/gallon fuel. Little wonder GA is withering on the vine. Thankfully the LSA manufacturers have teamed up with the FAA to make general aviation more accessible. As for maintenance, I'm impressed with Sport / Repairman certifications and the (remarkably) innovative path to A&P certification. If you've attended an FAA certified 18 month A&P course you know the real learning starts after you graduate. I think it's all good, and I intend to take the Maintenance class and buy a PiperSport just to support the project. I'd rather perform my own maintenance than send a new plane away once a year and wait a few weeks / get the run-around in route to a $2000 invoice for pulling some inspection plates. Last time my NavCom went out the shop kept it 2 weeks, soldered a glob of something in the middle of an IC board and 'commented don't worry about it' when asked why it failed. Wrong answer to an electrical engineer. The other side of that coin is that I will get to know my plane inside and out, and after 5 annuals I can sit for the A&P then upgrade planes to whatever and keep it at my house. That's the kind of stimulation GA needs. One assumes Bob isn't a pilot / plane owner or is an A&P experiencing an (unwarranted) threat to his job security.

The FAA approved course detailed above seems pretty serious to me. The rating looks like a lot more than someone just feeling the need to "fix their own aircraft.

Second biggest mistake the FAA ever made.No wait the two year IA renewal is the second the LSA maintenance rating is the first. I shudder to think that my neighbor who can't change his own oil and has the mechanical apptitude of a two year old could pay off someone for a 120 hr course and be fixing an airplane that flys over my home and yours. But wait it gets better because now he can use the limited experience he gets working on his LSA and use it to get a real A&P. Next year he is fixing the airliner your flying to Disney world on!