Are there any LSA aircraft that are IFR certified? A LSA would be the perfect private commuter plane for an instrument rated private pilot.

If not, what are the most cost effective airplanes that are IFR certified? Is there anything cheaper than a C172?

Just to be clear: I am asking about aircraft that are IFR certified, meaning that they can be flown IFR in IMC conditions. I am also aware that there is a huge difference between different countries with regard to aircraft certification so my question is mainly about the U.S.

  • Are you asking about the US specifically? – Pondlife Jan 10 '14 at 17:37
  • Question updated. Although it would be interesting to know if there are any light aircraft that can be used in IMC in Europe. – Philippe Leybaert Jan 10 '14 at 17:49
  • I question the premise that an LSA would be a perfect commuter plane. Their cruise speed is limited by regulation. There are plenty of experimental amateur-built aircraft that can legally and practically be flown IFR, and many are cheaper than a C172. My VariEze cost me $25k including upgrades to a WAAS GPS, and I commuted with it four times a week for several months. – pericynthion Nov 15 '14 at 2:25

Evektor SportStar MAX is optionally IFR equipped

Sorry to reanimate this rather old question, but I'm surprised none of the previous answers mentioned the Evector SportStar MAX, which has a model that is IFR equipped and which was available several years before this question was asked. From its POH (section 1.2):

Certification basis

SportStar MAX complies with the ASTM F2245-07a Standard Specification for Design and Performance of a Light Sport Airplane, issued by ASTM International Committee F37.

IFR version complies with FAR 91.205 requirements, ...

Here's a Plane & Pilot review of the IFR version, and here's a Press Release from Evector about this model.

Evektor followed the MAX model with the Harmony, and at least one place on their website suggests it too is available in an IFR equipped version.

  • All three of the previous answers specifically call out the difference between an IFR-capable aircraft and IMC conditions, and note that currently IFR capable LSA are not permitted to fly in IMC conditions, which was the OP's question. – FreeMan Sep 8 '15 at 15:14
  • 1
    @FreeMan My question was about LSA aircraft that were certified for IFR in IMC. This LSA (SportStar MAX) is indeed certified for that (quote: "The MAX IFR is the first Light Sport Aircraft that is Part 23 instrument compliant for IFR IMC flight". Unless I'm missing something, this answer is the only one that specifically answers the question. – Philippe Leybaert Sep 8 '15 at 23:27
  • Ah, @PhilippeLeybaert, I missed seeing that. My bad. – FreeMan Sep 9 '15 at 13:55

There is at least one LSA that is approved for IFR flight: The Zodiac 650 (available as a kit, or a factory-built Special Light Sport Aircraft).


More broadly, you can operate light sport aircraft under IFR (in VMC or IMC) as long as it's permitted by the operating instructions. AOPA's Light Sport / Sport Pilot FAQ addresses this well, so I'll just steal their answer:

Can I fly a special light sport aircraft (SLSA) in IFR conditions or at night?

Only day/VFR conditions are specifically addressed in the ASTM consensus standards that govern the production of SLSA. Being that sport pilots and those exercising sport pilot privileges are limited to flying only in day/VFR conditions, this seems appropriate.

On the other hand, if an appropriately rated pilot (example: private pilot with an instrument rating) wants to fly SLSA under IFR or at night, the aircraft's operating limitations must allow it, and the aircraft must be equipped per 91.205 for VFR flight at night and/or IFR flight. Additionally, 91.327(d) requires all SLSA to be operated in accordance with the aircraft's operating instructions. Operating instructions differ from operating limitations in that the engine, airframe, and accessory manufacturers issue them; the FAA issues operating limitations.

An example of operating instructions is a SLSA equipped with a Rotax engine. Rotax's operating instructions prohibit the use of a Rotax engine at night or in IFR conditions unless it is the FAA type certificated engine (14 CFR part 33). Other engine, airframe, and accessory manufacturers might impose similar restrictions.

If you are appropriately rated and would like to operate a special light sport aircraft at night or under IFR, contact the manufacturer to determine if any provisions can be made.

(Note also that there were some rumors of the ASTM consensus standards changing at some point to require DAY VFR ONLY placards on new Special Light-Sport Aircraft -- At this time I don't believe that's happened yet, but it might...)

Yes. As long as the pilot is IFR rated with a medical certificate and the aircraft is properly equipped. Including IFR certified lighting, avionics and power-plant.

The ASTM commitee voted to ban LSA flight into IMC, but that has not been approved by the FAA, as mentioned here.

A quick websearch leads me to believe that you can fly a properly equipped LSA on an IFR flight plan (eg: being directed by ATC), but you cannot fly an LSA into IMC.

IMC and IFR are not the same thing, and LSA's may be equipped for IFR flight, but they cannot be certified for IMC flight.

Sources:


More info, April, 2017:

https://generalaviationnews.com/2017/04/17/can-you-fly-ifr-in-an-lsa/

In summary, if you are an instrument pilot, and if you are current, and if you have a medical, and if you purchase an aircraft like the Bristell and register it as an ELSA, no regulation prevents you from filing and flying IFR including into IMC.

  • 1
    I meant IFR in IMC. I will update my question – Philippe Leybaert Jan 10 '14 at 17:43
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    It also appears that a number of articles I find online totally confuse and blur the lines between an IFR flight in VMC conditions, and an IFR flight in IMC conditions. Those are big, important differences! – abelenky Jan 10 '14 at 17:44

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