This is a followup to this question.

How does the FAA decide whether a new aircraft will is deemed to be a helicopter for licencing and registration purposes?

Is there a law or regulation? Are there guidelines? Is there any case law where a manufacturer challenged a particular classification?


1 Answer 1


The definition of a helicopter as well as other aircrafts is provided in 14 CFR Part 1


Manufacturers may seek clarification from the FAA about these definitions if/when there is a requirement .

  • $\begingroup$ So as long as a thing meets that definition, the FAA must licence it as a helicopter? $\endgroup$
    – user2168
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ " Helicopter means a rotorcraft that, for its horizontal motion, depends principally on its engine-driven rotors." Seems pretty self-explanatory. Are you asking about airplanes such as the Osprey? $\endgroup$
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 1:12
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    $\begingroup$ The Volocopter is basically a helicopter with more propellers than "conventional" helicopters .However,current FAA regulations do not yet address the specific design and airworthiness requirements of electric propulsion systems in aircraft. The F-37 Light Sport Aircraft Committee is currently carrying out a regulatory analysis of such systems(aircrafts). $\endgroup$
    – DSarkar
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @ RoboKaren - FAA defines the Osprey as a TILTROTOR Aircraft . In other words it will be treated by FAA as a helicopter and not an aircraft .FAA's definition for a TILTROTOR aircraft is - " an aircraft which uses a pair or more of powered rotors (sometimes called proprotors) mounted on the rotating shaft or nacelles at the end of a fixed wing for lift and propulsion, and combines the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed wing aircraft . " faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Notice/N_JO_7110.621.pdf $\endgroup$
    – DSarkar
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ no, @D_S , check out "powered-lift" in 14 CFR 1: "Powered-lift means a heavier-than-air aircraft capable of vertical takeoff, vertical landing, and low speed flight that depends principally on engine-driven lift devices or engine thrust for lift during these flight regimes and on nonrotating airfoil(s) for lift during horizontal flight." $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 19:22

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