With quite a few concept designs in progress, I am curious what the current FAA regulations are regarding vertical takeoff and landing vehicles in the light sport aircraft category.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting question, do you have any links? The current definition of LSA excludes helicopters and powered-lift, so any VTOL design would have to avoid being classified as either of them. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ Not sure that I have anything too reputable. I saw a sketchy manufacturer "concept" vehicle mention the two in the same sentence which is why I asked. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 18:00

1 Answer 1


The FAA term for VTOL [other than helicopters and lighter-than-air craft] is "Powered Lift". Also of note, gyroplanes by nature may be able to land vertical but cannot takeoff vertical so are not VTOL.

LSA excludes powered lift. Not much more to it, unless maybe it launches from a catapult and lands with a parachute.

title 14 CFR section 1.1 "General definitions":

Light-sport aircraft means an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:

(1) A maximum takeoff weight of not more than—

(i) 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or

(ii) 1,430 pounds (650 kilograms) for an aircraft intended for operation on water.

(2) A maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (VH) of not more than 120 knots CAS under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level.

(3) A maximum never-exceed speed (VNE) of not more than 120 knots CAS for a glider.

(4) A maximum stalling speed or minimum steady flight speed without the use of lift-enhancing devices (VS1) of not more than 45 knots CAS at the aircraft's maximum certificated takeoff weight and most critical center of gravity.

(5) A maximum seating capacity of no more than two persons, including the pilot.

(6) A single, reciprocating engine, if powered.

(7) A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller if a powered aircraft other than a powered glider.

(8) A fixed or feathering propeller system if a powered glider.

(9) A fixed-pitch, semi-rigid, teetering, two-blade rotor system, if a gyroplane.

(10) A nonpressurized cabin, if equipped with a cabin.

(11) Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft intended for operation on water or a glider.

(12) Fixed or retractable landing gear, or a hull, for an aircraft intended for operation on water.

(13) Fixed or retractable landing gear for a glider.

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    $\begingroup$ A link to the appropriate FAA document would greatly enhance this answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 7:33
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    $\begingroup$ @AEhere There it is, title 14 section 1.1 $\endgroup$
    – Max Power
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it looks like a (sufficiently-small, single-engine, no-more-than-two-seats, unpressurised) airship could potentially meet all of those requirements... $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ A few gyros, fitted with collective-control rotors, can perform no-roll, vertical (or almost vertical) takeoffs. An example is the A&S 18A: youtube.com/watch?v=wzAcNh56B5A $\endgroup$
    – xxavier
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 7:19

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