Light Aircraft Association

The Light Aircraft Association (LAA) is the representative body in the United Kingdom for amateur aircraft construction, and recreational and sport flying. It oversees the construction and maintenance of homebuilt aircraft, under an approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).[3]

Light Aircraft Association
Light Aircraft Association Logo.jpg
Type Not for profit
Founded 1946, as the Ultralight Aircraft Association
Headquarters Turweston Aerodrome, Brackley, Northants, United Kingdom[1]
Membership Individuals and companies
Field Aviation advocacy
Number of Members 8,000 (2011)
Key Personnel Patron: Prince Michael of Kent
President: Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Sir John Allison KCB, CBE, FRAeS, RAF[2]

The LAA was formerly known as the Popular Flying Association and was originally founded in 1946 as the Ultralight Aircraft Association.[3]

LAA Permit regimeEdit

The regime for approving amateur-built aircraft in the United Kingdom differs from that in many other countries, of which the United States is the prime example. Instead of the FAA's Experimental airworthiness category, under which an amateur may design, build and operate (and is ultimately responsible for) an aircraft 'for experimental purposes', the UK CAA is required to investigate any such aircraft's 'fitness to fly' and to issue a 'Permit to Fly' when satisfied. The LAA is approved by the CAA to make recommendations for and to revalidate such Permits. Aircraft on a LAA Permit may not be operated commercially and are at present limited to Day / VFR operation. There are also nominal limits on the number of seats (four) and on maximum take-off weight (2500 lbs), power (260HP) and stalling speed (70 mph). The Permit is valid only in UK airspace unless by agreement with another State, which is normally obtainable for countries in the European Union and many outside it. The Permit has to be renewed annually after the aircraft has been inspected by an inspector appointed by the LAA.[4]

The LAA's remit extends to homebuilt autogyros but not to helicopters. Factory-built classic and vintage aircraft that are no longer supported by their manufacturer have difficulty obtaining a Certificate of Airworthiness, and in such cases the CAA may transfer the type to LAA Permit.[5]

The LAA's remit includes amateur-built microlights but does not extend to factory-built microlights, which are covered by the BMAA. The BMAA's remit substantially overlaps with that of the LAA; but occasional proposals for the merger of the two associations have met with considerable resistance, mainly from the BMAA's majority membership of 2-axis microlight pilots.[citation needed]


Following a letter in the Flight by Risteard Mac Roibin an aircraft engineer who suggested that it should be possible to regulate ultra-light aircraft without the expense of a Certificate of Airworthiness, it would have to be a tested and approved design and be checked by a licensed aircraft engineer.[6] The article led to the formation of the Ultra-Light Aircraft Association, with the first meeting being held on 26 October 1946. The first priority of the association was to convince the government that light aircraft did not need a Certificate of Airworthiness. The government agreed that association could issue a Permit to Fly for aircraft not exceeding 1,000lb in weight, maximum engine power of 40 hp and a landing speed of no more than 40mph. The supervision during construction and final inspection would need to be done by ULAA inspectors.

The association took on the name Popular Flying Association in 1949. Initially, and still primarily, an engineering organisation for approving designs for homebuilding and regulating their construction and maintenance, it is now also active in encouraging sport and recreational flying and campaigning for a regulatory regime that will provide as little restriction as possible, consistent with safety, for the construction and operation of homebuilt aircraft and Classic and Vintage factory built aircraft that can no longer hold a full Certificate of Airworthiness. Membership in 2011 was around 8,000.[3]

It publishes a monthly full-colour member magazine, Light Aviation (formerly Popular Flying) and holds its annual Rally at Sywell Aerodrome on the first weekend in September, probably the largest gathering of light aircraft outside the USA.[3]

It has a network of Member Clubs (known as "Struts") throughout the UK, each providing a geographically centred social focus for LAA members, to which members of the public are warmly welcomed. There are also a number of Type Clubs, catering to members who are constructing or operating certain aircraft types.[3]

The Association changed its name to the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) on 1 January 2008,[7] along with the magazine's name being changed to "Light Aviation"


  1. ^ "Turweston Aerodrome EGBT | AviatorUK". AviatorUK. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  2. ^ Light Aircraft Association (n.d.). "Who's Who At the LAA". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  3. ^ a b c d e Light Aircraft Association (2011). "About Us". Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Welcome to the Light Aircraft Association". Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  5. ^ An example being the ARV Super2.
  6. ^ Ristead Mac Roibin (22 August 1946). "Encouragement for Fools". Flight. p. 190.
  7. ^ Light Aircraft Association (22 November 2008). "The Annual General Meeting 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 16 May 2018.

External linksEdit