What Do I Need to Know About Light Aircraft?

Man’s passion for flying has been around for ages. It is for this reason that the hobby of flying light aircraft still persists, even when larger, more commercially available airplanes can accommodate the needs of more passengers.

Our personal quest to reach out and touch the sky is fulfilled by light aircraft. Many plane owners enjoy the freedom and adrenaline that light aircraft flying provides.

So what exactly is a light aircraft? How light does a plane have to be for it to fall under the category of a ‘light aircraft’?

Light aircraft are airplanes that have a maximum gross takeoff weight (MTOW) of 12,500 pounds (5,670 kilograms) or less. While light aircraft may be used for general aviation, it can also perform roles under commercial air transport, and more specialized aerial work. 

This means light aircraft usage runs the gamut, from passenger and freight transport, to sightseeing, photography, and other roles, as well as personal use.

Most airplanes today that fall under the category of “light aircraft” are made out of aluminum which is strong yet amazingly lightweight, although many parts may be made of other metals such as steel and titanium.

What Are Some Examples of Light Aircraft?

  • The Aviat Husky light utility aircraft
  • Beechcraft planes, particularly the Beechcraft Bonanza and the Beechcraft Baron, both not jet-propelled. Meanwhile, the Beechcraft B200 Super King Air is an example of a light aircraft that is close to the MTOW limit for this category
  • The entire range of propeller-driven Cessna aircraft from the Cessna 120 up through the Cessna 208.
  • All models of the Cirrus Aircraft
  • The Daher TBM 910/930
  • The de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter is another example of a heavier-tier light aircraft.
  • All models of Diamond
  • The Epic E-1000
  • The GippsAero GA8 Airvan
  • The civil aircraft line from the Grumman Aerospace Corporation
  • The Helio Courier and Stallion
  • The Mahindra GA10 Airvan
  • All models of Mooney planes
  • The Piaggio P180 Avanti
  • The Pilatus PC-12
  • All models of Piper aircraft
  • The Quest Kodiak
  • The Robin DR400 wooden sport monoplane
  • The Tecnam P2010, P2006T
  • The Vulcanair P-68C and A-Viator

What are Common Light Aircraft Roles?

Due to their size and weight, light aircraft are favorable in many ways.

For those who personally own a small airplane, it’s a great way to fly across a state or two (versus having to fly commercial). The majority of personal aircraft are light aircraft.

Small commercial operations utilizing light aircraft also transport passengers and freight across relatively short distances. Other common roles include photography, aerial surveying, marketing purposes (such as banner towing and skywriting), flight instruction, sightseeing, and other light cargo operations.

Cessna 172s, Cirrus SR22s, and Robinson R44s are some of the most popular light aircraft in use today.

Are Light-Sport Aircraft the Same as Light Aircraft?

Light sport aircraft don’t typically fall within the same category as light aircraft as most light aircraft are over the maximum weight allowed for someone with only a sport license for flying.

You might have also hear the term Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) and Ultralight Aircraft being thrown around from time to time. A lot of these planes are also used for general aviation roles but are usually for recreational purposes.

As these are just fairly new types of aircrafts, there is no standard worldwide description or set of rules in terms of certifications, specifications, and regulations. Just about every country have their own rules and laws governing LSAs and Ultralight Aircraft.

This means while the United States has its own set of governing rules and regulations for Light-Sport Aircraft and Ultralight Aircraft, these may vary greatly compared to those of, say, Canada’s or the European Union’s.

Light-Sport Aircraft

LSA is a relatively new category of aircraft– small, lightweight (not more than 1320 pounds), and simple to fly. These cover many amateur-built aircraft, experimental prototypes, and other designs.

Ultralight Aircraft

Ultralight aircraft are even smaller: about 115 pounds (around 70 kg) unpowered, with a bit of extra allowance for amphibious landing gear and ballistic parachute systems.

What Are Some of the Most-Produced Light Aircraft?

Here is a list of some of the most produced aircraft in the history of aviation.  

1. Cessna 150/152 

When it comes to light aircraft, Cessna is a household name. A lot of pilots trust this company when it comes to producing good-quality aircraft. Cessna 150/152 is one of their best units. In fact, it is the most produced two-seater plane by the company. Over 31,000 units were made in a span of almost three decades.

2. Piper PA-28 Series

Still being produced at present, Piper PA-28 Series is the pride of Piper Aircraft Company. The unit has been performing so well that it has been in production since 1960. To date, the company has made about 32,000 units. 

3. Messerschmitt BF 109

This famous aircraft took the world by storm from 1936 to 1959. The German company BFW/Messerschmitt is the creator of this number 1 most-produced single-seater fighter aircraft.  

4. Ilyushin IL-2

Hailed as the most produced two-seat fighter aircraft, this model reached 36,000 units during its peak in the early ’40s. It was produced in the former Soviet Union and was largely used during World War II.

5. Cessna 172

Another Cessna Aircraft takes the lead for the most produced light aircraft ever. Its total number is a far cry from Ilyushin’s 36,000 units. Over 44,000 units of Cessna 172 have been released since 1956 up to the present. It is considered one of the most loved light aircraft in the world by hobbyists and professional pilots alike.  

Light Aircraft Ownership

Many still dream about owning a small plane for personal and recreational use. Flying on a light aircraft gives people a sense of independence. Aspiring pilots are always on the lookout for the best thing to fly.  

One of the proven ways to know which planes are the best is to determine their demand. Most produced planes are likely the most sought-after by hobbyists and pilots. They generally perform better than other units. They are usually more affordable and easier to maintain.   

A Final Word About Light Aircraft

If you are an aspiring aircraft owner, looking at the number of units produced in total by aircraft manufacturing companies can be a determining factor of the plane’s performance and reliability.  

But more than that, having a trusted service provider for aircraft maintenance parts is just as important. No matter how good your unit is, it will not last long without proper care.  

That is why Knisley Exhaust, Inc. should be your number 1 ally. Since 1974, our family-owned and operated company has been providing parts of your aircrafts. Our extensive inventory and quality service provide exhaust components to aircraft owners, operators, and repair stations.

Call us today to learn more about our services.