Frequently Asked Questions

Canadian Aircraft Registration

What are Light Sport Aircraft? What is the Sport Pilot Permit?

What exactly is an ultralight? Do ultralights have to be registered?

What are the differences between Basic and Advanced Ultralights?

Can I carry a passenger in an Advanced Ultralight? In a Basic Ultralight?

Does the Challenger qualify as an Advanced Ultralight or as a Basic?

What configurations of engines, wheels, floats, skis qualify as Advanced?

What modifications can be made to a Challenger in the Advanced category?

What are the weight parameters for Challengers in the Advanced category?

How do I get a Statement Of Conformity (SOC) to register as Advanced?

What is required to retain a Challenger's status as an Advanced Ultralight?

Can I upgrade a used Challenger from a Basic Ultralight to an Advanced?

Can I import a Challenger from the United States and register in Advanced?

Exactly what operating restrictions are imposed on Basic Ultralights?

Can I hire someone to assemble my Challenger? What about the 51% Rule?

Can I do my own maintenance? If so, must an AME sign the work?

What are Light Sport Aircraft? What is the Sport Pilot Permit?

The Light Sport Aircraft category only exists in the United States where it came into being in 2004 along with their new Sport Pilot Permit. They are much like our Canadian Advanced Ultralight category and Ultralight Pilot Permit with Passenger Carrying Endorsement however neither are recognized here.

Challengers in the U.S. meet the definition of Light Sport Aircraft so they may be flown by holders of the Sport Pilot Permit.

What exactly is an ultralight? Do ultralights have to be registered?

In the 1970's and 1980's the term ultralight usually referred to a hang glider with a chainsaw motor and a lawn chair underneath! Today exactly what constitutes an "ultralight" depends on where you are located.

Canada divides aircraft into six 'categories': Aeroplane, Ultralight Aeroplane, Glider, Helicopter, Gyroplane, and Balloon. Here, all aircraft must be registered.

In Canada there are two types of Ultralight Aeroplanes: Basic and Advanced. This allows one or two seats and a maximum takeoff weight of up to 1200 pounds for Basic or 1232 pounds for Advanced. Stall speed must be less than 45 mph. A Minimum Useful Load is required based on seats and power. In recent years most new Challengers have been registered in the Advanced Ultralight category.

It is worth noting that today's Canadian definition of ultralight is much broader than in the United States. In the U.S. under Federal Air Regulation Part 103 the limits are a single seat, takeoff weight less than 254 pounds excluding pilot, and a stall speed less than 28 mph. Part 103 also limits maximum speed to 63 mph and fuel capacity to 5 US gallons. If the requirements of Part 103 are met no licence, medical or registration are required.

In the United States prior to January 31, 2008 there was provision for two-seat ultralights operated as trainers however these are no longer legal. Now U.S. Challengers are usually registered in Aeroplane category as Amateur-Built. This can be done in Canada too but our Ultralight category is preferred because there is much less red tape and cost.

What are the differences between Basic and Advanced Ultralights?

Advanced Ultralights meet standards of design, construction, performance, modification and maintenance established by Transport Canada. Advanced Ultralights have all the privileges of certified aircraft for Day VFR operations - they can use airports without advance permission, enter controlled airspace, etc. Occupants of Advanced Ultralights are not required to wear helmets.

Basic Ultralights need meet no standards whatsoever so long as they satisfy the seats, weight and stall speed criteria. Basic Ultralights are subject to a variety of restrictions such as operation at airports and in controlled airspace. Occupants of Basic Ultralights must wear helmets.

Can I carry a passenger in an Advanced Ultralight? In a Basic Ultralight?

Both types of ultralight may be used by instructors to train students and by pilots to carry other pilots licensed for Ultralights or Aeroplanes.

Only an ultralight registered as Advanced may carry a passenger who is neither a pilot nor a student , and then only if the pilot in command holds a licence with passenger-carrying privileges. (See FAQ on Pilot Licensing.)

Basic Ultralights can never be used to carry passengers who are neither pilots nor students, no matter what licence is held by the pilot in command.

Does the Challenger qualify as an Advanced Ultralight or as a Basic?

Yes to both. It is important to understand that the privileges and restrictions applicable to the two types of Ultralight do not apply to generic Challenger models but to individual aircraft based upon their specific registration status.

The Challenger type definition is on the Transport Canada list of approved Advanced Ultralights. To register a new Challenger as Advanced requires submitting a Statement Of Conformity with the aircraft's serial number.

There are no special requirements to register as a Basic Ultralight.

What configurations of engines, landing gear, etc qualify as Advanced?

The qualification of engines, wheels, floats, skis, etc is contingent upon using standard installation hardware and instructions specific to the Challenger.
One-off configurations or installations are never approved because it is not economically viable to do the extensive engineering analysis required to validate both short and long term airworthiness.

Note that in this context the term "approved" means simply "meets the criteria of the Advanced category" - it does not imply a recommendation of any sort.

The Rotax 582, 503 and 447 are approved when installed in accordance with instructions along with the motor mount, exhaust mount, cooling system, reduction drive and prop plus in the case of the 582 the oil injection and cabin heating systems only if all were sourced brand new from National Ultralight.

Three blade props from Warp Drive are approved for the 582 and 503 power packs. Two blade props from GSC Systems, Tennessee Wood and Warp Drive are approved for the 503 and 447 power packs.

The 582 Cabin Heater system from Sheer Technologies is approved if installed with the supplied hardware in accordance with instructions. Note that locating coolant hoses in or near the cabin is not approved.

The land configuration is approved with the wheel/tire sizes provided by Quad City and National Ultralight. If oversize main wheels/tires are used then the nose wheel/tire/fork combination must be proportional to maintain the correct attitude on the ground.

Main gear legs can be the standard aluminum as provided by Quad City or fibreglass from Skyes The Limit in Arizona or Turbulence Aviation in Quebec. The nose fork suspension systems from Turbulence Aviation, U-Fly-It Light Sport Aircraft and Bill Volcko are approved.

Puddlejumper floats, both straight and amphibious, are approved if they are installed with the Puddlejumper provided hardware and in accordance with the Puddlejumper instructions. Other floats are not approved for the Advanced category since there is no standard rigging hardware or instructions provided.

Skis and wheel/skis from Turbulence Aviation, Datum, Trilite and Zanklites are approved if installed using the manufacturer's hardware and instructions.

The Sheer Technologies 17 USgal fuel tank and the Turbulence Aviation 15 USgal fuel tank qualify for Advanced when installed using the manufacturer's hardware and instructions. Aftermarket wing tanks are not approved because they require modifications to the factory-built wing structure. External fuel tanks attached to the main lift struts or to the jury struts are not approved.

The BRS VLS 1050 whole aircraft parachute system from Ballistic Recovery Systems is approved when installed using the BRS hardware and instructions.

What modifications can be made to a Challenger in the Advanced category?

None. The regulations state that the aircraft design must not be modified without the manufacturer's written permission. The manufacturer never approves modifications because it is not economically viable to do the extensive engineering analysis required to validate the airworthiness.

Note that the term "modification" is interpreted as any change to the airplane which could have a material impact on structural integrity, controllability or crashworthiness. For example the addition of typical aftermarket instruments or avionics would not be considered a modification. Adding trim tabs to the elevators would be a modification and therefore would not be approved.

In the case of the power plant and ancillary components any changes to the motor mount, exhaust mount, cooling system, reduction drive, prop or oil injection are considered to be modifications and are therefore not approved. Changes to the 582 cabin heat system components are not approved.

It is wise to check with National Ultralight before deviating from instructions or making any changes to the aircraft or its components.

What are the weight parameters for Challengers in the Advanced category?

The Challenger Light Sport XL-65 and XS-65 have a gross weight of 1060 lbs. This is predicated on meeting four criteria: 582 power pack, Light Sport wings with factory fuel tanks, Light Sport main landing gear and heavy load saddles.

The approved Gross Weight for Classic Challenger II kits manufactured after mid 1990 is 960 lbs. For earlier kits the limit is 800 lbs. Click here for details.

At these weights the aircraft meet or exceed the ultimate load factors of +6G and -3G required for the Advanced Ultralight category. With the Rotax 582 or 503 engine as applicable these Challengers meet or exceed the performance standards required. With the Rotax 447 gross weight is limited to 800 lbs.

The Advanced category requires a Minimum Useful Load of 382.5 lbs for aircraft with a Rotax 582 or 375 lbs with a Rotax 503. This is calculated by subtracting the actual Empty Weight from the approved Gross Weight.

For example a Challenger approved for 1060 lbs Gross with a Rotax 582 cannot have an Empty Weight greater than 677.5 lbs. A Challenger with 960 lbs Gross and a Rotax 503 cannot have an Empty Weight greater than 585 lbs.

Given the very low base empty weight of the Challenger II this leaves plenty of legal leeway for options, accessories and amphibious Puddlejumper floats.

Note however that if you go on a spending spree and add every concievable goodie to your Challenger you can bump up against this limit. Keep it simple!

How do I get a Statement Of Conformity (SOC) to register as Advanced?

SOC's are only issued to new Challengers which have never flown. The aircraft must have been assembled from a kit purchased from the Canadian distributor or from a Canadian dealer authorized by the Canadian distributor.

All flight critical components must be brand new and have been sourced from the Canadian distributor or an authorized Canadian Challenger dealer. This includes the engine, motor mount, exhaust mount, cooling system, reduction drive, propeller and, for 582's, the oil injection and cabin heat systems.

Contact us to determine if a specific airframe and/or power pack is eligible.

An inspection by an authorized Canadian tech rep is required for the SOC. Challenger reps, located across Canada, charge a small fee for the inspection. The SOC inspection takes place when the aircraft is fully assembled, the engine has completed the Rotax break-in procedure, and all is ready for flight.

In September 1999 Transport Canada implemented changes to the wording of the Statement Of Conformity that in effect require the manufacturer of the kit to certify in writing that the airplane, including airframe and power pack:
(1) was assembled from a kit with a Declaration of Compliance in effect,
(2) was assembled in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions,
(3) has not been modified without the manufacturer's written permission,
(4) has all Mandatory Actions complied with, and
(5) is "Fit For Flight".

The regulations do not specifically state that an inspection is required however no reasonable person or reputable business would certify in writing that an assembled kit meets those criteria without first inspecting the aircraft!

What is required to retain a Challenger's status as an Advanced Ultralight?

(1) The aircraft must not be modified without the written permission of the manufacturer. As noted above if a change is considered to be a "modification" it will not be approved. It is wise to check with National Ultralight before making any changes to the aircraft or its component parts.

(2) The manufacturer's recommended maintenance program must be followed and a written record is required as proof. This obligation is not at all onerous and would be met by any prudent pilot.

(3) If a change of ownership occurs a Fit For Flight Form must be submitted by the buyer to Transport Canada with the application for registration. Here the seller must certify that the aircraft has been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's specified program and that no modifications have been made. The buyer must certify that he has inspected the aircraft and found it to be as certified by the seller and that it is Fit For Flight.

Can I upgrade a used Challenger from a Basic Ultralight to an Advanced?

No. This requires issuing a Statement Of Conformity by which we must certify the airworthiness of the entire aircraft including airframe and engine.

In effect this includes certifying that the original assembly of the kit was in accordance with instructions, that any modifications have been approved in writing, that the required maintenance program has been followed and logged, and that the entire aircraft including airframe and engine is "Fit For Flight".

Aircraft registered and operated in the Basic Ultralight category have met no standards whatsoever of assembly, modification, maintenance or operation.

Once an aircraft has been operated there arises significant risks of airframe and engine mishandling, maintenance deficiencies and undeclared damage. Much of this is not detectable by any economically viable inspection process.

For these reasons the business burden and legal liability exposure imposed on us and on the inspectors in issuing an SOC for anything other than a newly assembled Challenger has been deemed unacceptable. So far as we know all ultralight manufacturers have taken this position.

Can I import a Challenger from the United States and register in Advanced?

No. This requires issuing a Statement Of Conformity by which we must certify the airworthiness of the entire aircraft including airframe and engine.

In effect this includes certifying that the original assembly of the kit was in accordance with instructions, that any modifications have been approved in writing, that the required maintenance program has been followed and logged, and that the entire aircraft including airframe and engine is "Fit For Flight".

Challengers assembled and operated in the United States have not met the rigourous standards of assembly, modification, maintenance and operation required by the Advanced Ultralight category in Canada.

Once an aircraft has been operated there arises significant risks of airframe and engine mishandling, maintenance deficiencies and undeclared damage. Much of this is not detectable by any economically viable inspection process.

For these reasons the business burden and legal liability exposure imposed on us and on the inspectors in issuing an SOC for anything other than a Challenger newly assembled in Canada has been deemed unacceptable. So far as we know all ultralight manufacturers have taken this position.

A small number of used Challengers have been imported from the United States over the years and registered in the Basic Ultralight category. This simply requires paying taxes and customs at the border then submitting the appropriate paperwork to Transport Canada.

Exactly what operating restrictions are imposed on Basic Ultralights?

Carrying passengers in a Basic Ultralight is prohibited. In a Basic Ultralight helmets must be worn by occupants. Basic Ultralights may only be operated at airports with the permission of the airport operator. Basic Ultralights can not be operated in controlled airspace except as noted at airports. Note that the term controlled airspace does not only include areas where radio contact must be maintained with Air Traffic Control. There is now an exemption in place which allows Basic Ultralights to operate in Class E airspace.

Challengers registered as Advanced Ultralights have no such restrictions.

Can I hire someone to assemble my Challenger? What about the 51% Rule?

Challengers intended to be registered as either Advanced or Basic Ultralights may be assembled by the owner or entirely by someone hired by the owner.

The 51% Rule only applies to aircraft registered in the Aeroplane category as Amateur-Built. This requires the owner to do more than half the work.

While the Challenger quick-build kits do qualify under the 51% Rule, the route of registering as Amateur-Built is rarely followed in Canada. The increase in cost and red tape is not offset by any significant additional privileges beyond those enjoyed by Advanced Ultralights.

Can I do my own maintenance? If so, must an AME sign the work?

Owners of both Advanced and Basic Ultralights may perform all maintenance activities themselves or delegate them to any other person. There is no need for an AME (Aircraft Maintenance Engineer) to do or sign maintenance work.


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