Now that the FAA's Third Class Medical Reform has passed and the criteria have been expanded, any thoughts on how this might impact Zenith builds if the builder so chooses (e.g., EAB vs. the LSA limits)? Or how it might affect what your build?

Views: 4836

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

To fly under the Light-Sport and Sport Pilot rules only depends on the details of the plane in question.  It doesn't matter what form of airworthiness certificate the plane has.  Light-Sport planes can have standard airworthiness certificates, Experimental, SLSA or ELSA.  A Sport pilot can fly any of these without concern for the difference in maintenance requirements.

There are indeed differences in maintenance and flight test requirements depending on whether you get a ELSA or Experimental Amateur Built certificate for your plane.  The E-AB choice gives the builder complete freedom to work on his plane including annual condition inspections but the phase I flight test requirement will be either 25 or 40 hours.   ELSA gets a 5 hour phase I flight test but additional training and certification is needed for working on these planes and even more is required if you want to sign off annual condition inspections.

The point I'm making to people I know. it gets rid of all the hoops for things that can easily be controlled with proper medical care. I'm over 10 years out. Now I can wait for the rule and take more then one of my grandkids at a time.

I would certainly prefer to fly larger and heavier high performance complex planes than my already completed Zodiac XL.  However, since I have not had a medical certificate since 1986 the new rules don't really help me much at all.  I will spare you the details but the bottom line is in order to take advantage of the new rule I need to ground myself for many months while the FAA bureaucrats give me a special issuance medical which I will no longer need the instant they issue it.

The Light-Sport category still offers recreational fliers a lot of benefits even with the medical certificate changes.  These are generally brand new airplanes instead of the larger general aviation planes that are probably an average of 30 years old.  Light-Sport planes such as completed Zenith kits tend to have modern glass instrument panels instead of the World War II technology in most larger GA planes.  Perhaps most important is the operating costs for a plane like a Zodiac XL or other Zenith model includes fuel consumption somewhat less than 6 gallons per hour instead of the 15 or so a plane like a Cessna 182 requires.  There is also the fact we can maintain and repair our own planes at nearly zero cost while a certified plane calls for a certified mechanic for just about everything including annual inspections.  Put simply a Zenith kit based plane is a lot less expensive to own and fly than the old GA models and provides the performance and other capabilities desired by most recreational fliers.

The paradigm for me remains unchanged, i.e. a 750 STOL conforming to LSA specs. The aircraft meets my needs/desires as do the Aeronca Chief and Pietenpol. For those desiring more performance and capability it looks as though aeromedical reform has opened a couple of doors.


Trying to interpret the new law .......before the maintain private certificate I must have a medical exam from a AME and 2 year flight review as I been doing........but now its required to have a state doctor exam...just like a AME exam..a on line refreshing course and a flight review. What happen to the drivers license and a pilot certificate for just  3rd class flying!

I just don't see the advantage........yet



Biannual flight review was never at issue.  Still need that.  Difference is AME had to certify you meet all requirements and are medically qualified to fly; every 2 years.  Now see any MD and go through checklist, but they say they see no reason why you cannot fly.  Completely different point of view.  Also, now every 4 years, not every 2.  And your MD does not report to FAA anything.  Just as one example, I went on C-PAP and would have jumped through many hoops with lots of supporting data to pass with AME.  Now I see my regular MD, who already has seen enough data, and at least on that issue, says I'm good to go.  That is just one example how different.  It affects each pilot differently.  If you're young and healthy, you probably don't see a change, except must see a doc every 4 years instead of 2, and have to do the online class.  Or you can just request an AME do a regular 3rd Class medical and be done with it.  But I'm 70 and in good health, but still had that pap issue to deal with.  No longer.  Diabetes same; heart issues same; and the list goes on.  We did want driver's license, but in order to get many politicians on board, and commercial pilot's association (a huge factor and initially against it), and some others, compromises were necessary.  This is the compromise, and it has passed instead of "almost passed" for years.  Welcome to the world of politics.  If you think you're going to work with Congress and get everything you want, think again. Then again, we got MUCH more than we requested from the FAA.  We asked for 1 passenger, got 5; asked for 1 engine, got multi; asked for VFR day, got VFR and IFR day and night; and higher altitude.  Even though a lot of that does not affect me personally, I think we (previous 3rd class medical pilots) got a lot out of the compromise.

 Even though a lot of that does not affect me personally, I think we (previous 3rd class medical pilots) got a lot out of the compromise.

i agree, Jim!  I'm in good health and have passed a 3rd Class well within the 10 year window and have been flying my STOL 750 under Light Sport rules the last few years and I get regular physicals, anyway.  The new law doesn't affect my present situation, but we did get a lot out of the new law, so it opens the possibility that I might start flying some heavier/bigger planes and also get that tailwheel endorsement I always meant to do!  At least I won't have the additional expense, bother, and anxiety of going back for another 3rd Class!




Love my 601xl. But if zenith starts producing a low wing 4 seat kit with matched holes and a design that can fly faster (like cruise around 180 mph), j would consider building again.

You sound like you're describing an RV-10! :) I would think Zenith, with their low-cost philosophy, would produce something slower.

Over the past few years we have seen values of airplanes like the 650, Cruzer and yes, even the RV12 increase in value because these planes could be flown by pilots as light sport after they could no longer get their Class three Medicals.  Many of these pilots will now be able to keep flying planes like the RV 6, 7, 8 9, etc and I think we will see a reversal of the value trend.


I doubt there will be much impact on current Zenith aircraft, other than some of the 'more, faster' builders moving on to something that carries more and flies faster. If my 650XL ends up flying faster than the 120kt LSA limit, great, but I'm not counting on it :-) And I have zero desire to carry passengers or fly in a hurry, so I intend to finish my 650XL build as I started, as an E-AB LSA. There really aren't any LSA limitations that are significantly restraining to the current Zenith lineup, other than a builder can now spec the full design gross weight of the Cruzer.

As a (private) pilot, it's great news, if it actually ends up working as advertised. I let my medical expire a few years back so I could finish my build without the risk of a medical hiccup permanently grounding me and my 650XL. Now I will no longer have to adhere to silly sport pilot limitations such as the 10000' altitude limit (apparently the FAA has never flown west of Oklahoma City), and it will be much easier to remain current when I can again rent and receive BFRs/instruction in standard aircraft like 172s and the like.

The largest impact will be on S-LSA aircraft and Sport Pilot training. Going for the Private license makes more sense if you can get that first medical. I also expect to see the majority of factory aircraft drifting upwards in gross weight and out of S-LSA because that's where the market is. Putting 30 gallons of fuel and two 21st century humans in an S-LSA trainer (legally) has always been marginal at best. However, heavier = more HP = more gas, so I prefer the build-it-lighter approach on my 650XL since I'm also a cheapskate.


New from Zenith:

Zenith Planes For Sale 

Classified listing for buying or selling your Zenith building or flying related stuff...


Weather Maps

Custom Instrument Panels
for your Zenith

Custom instrument panels are now available directly from Zenith Aircraft Company exclusively for Zenith builders and owners. Pre-cut panel, power distribution panel, Approach Fast Stack harnesses, Dynon and Garmin avionics, and more.

Custom Upholstery Kits for your Zenith Aircraft:

Zenith Vinyl Upholstery Kits

Zenith Apparel from EAA:

Zenair Floats

Flying On Your Own Wings:
A Complete Guide to Understanding Light Airplane Design, by Chris Heintz

Builder & Pilot Supplies:

How to videos from

Developed specifically for Zenith builders (by a builder) these videos on DVD are a great help in building your own kit plane by providing practical hands-on construction information. Visit for the latest DVD titles.

Aircraft Insurance:


West Coast USA:

Pro Builder Assistance

Pro Builder Assistance

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty for all your building and pilot supplies!

© 2020   Created by Zenith.Aero.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service