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The two reasons this category was attractive to pilots were: #1 lower cost aircraft, and #2 the ability to fly without an FAA medical. As it turned out #1 never really materialized, but #2 definitely drove interest in the category.
The RV-12 was thus originally designed by Van’s Aircraft to fit into the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) category. The provide for a manufacturer to offer an Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (ELSA) provided they have first designed and certified a Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA). Van’s did that
One of the most compelling reasons builders might choose this aircraft category is that they can exercise Sport Pilot license privileges which do not require an FAA medical. Rather Sport Pilots, or those pilots with certificates above that, may fly as a Sport Pilot with a valid state driver’s license to satisfy the medical requirement.
I will build and certify this aircraft as an Experimental – Amateur Built category, not in E-LSA. (continue…)