LSA Maintenance Training – A Rare Opportunity

Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine August/September 2021 online issue

After training more than 7,000 students from nearly every state in the U.S., and more than 20 different countries, the owners of Rainbow Aviation, Brian and Carol Carpenter, have relocated their business from California to Kingsville, Missouri – about an hour southeast of Kansas City. The new location has been well received for its central location for both Rainbow Aviation’s two-day/16-hour Light Sport Aircraft Repairman Inspection (LSR-I) course, and its 15-day/120-hour Light Sport Aircraft Repairman Maintenance (LSR-M) course. 

There is only one repairman certificate, but two ratings: “LSA-Inspection” (LSR-I), and “LSA-Maintenance” (LSR-M). 

The “Inspection Rating” allows the holder to complete an annual condition inspection on an Experimental Light Sport Aircraft they own. Once they have this rating, it does not need to be renewed. This weekend course is invaluable to the aircraft owner and is especially popular among those who own amateur-built Light Sport Aircraft. Weekend courses are held at various locations throughout the country.

What can an LSA owner gain from taking the 16-hour (two-day) LSR-I Inspection Rating Course?

• Work on Experimental Light Sport Aircraft.
• Annual their own Light Sport Aircraft.
• Improve their safety.
• Reduce their maintenance problems.
• Gain a greater awareness of their aircraft.

The Light Sport Aircraft Repairman Maintenance Rating (LSR-M) is available by attending a 15-day/120-hour Repairman Course.

The LSR-M course runs through the weekends, usually just taking one day off, to get students in and out quickly. The course gives graduates the equivalent privileges of an Airplane and Powerplant (A&P) mechanic with an Inspection Authorization (IA) Certificate but is limited to Light Sport Aircraft. Compare the 120-hour instruction requirement for the LSR-M Rating to the 1900-hour instruction requirement for the A&P Certificate, and the LSR-M Rating is very appealing.

Unlike the simpler, shorter LSR-I course, an individual who completes the longer, more involved LSR-M course may perform maintenance and inspections on anyone’s Special LSA or Experimental LSA and may charge for their services!

No prerequisites are required to take the LSR-M course. A repairman with an LSR-M Rating does not need to be a pilot, and the best kept secret is, after working in the field for 30 months under his or her own supervision, the repairman is qualified to take the A&P test and add that certificate as a rating without ever attending an A&P school. This represents a significant privilege, opportunity and savings for LSR-M repairmen. 

Mike Zidziunas was the first person in the country to acquire an LSR-M Rating and earn his A&P Certificate in 2009 under this rule. He saw the potential in Light Sport Aircraft maintenance and enrolled in one of the first LSR-M courses ever offered. Zidziunas has gone on to leverage the opportunities the certificate provides, and opened a Rotax engine service center, works with manufacturers assembling LSA aircraft, and continued his education to earn his inspection authorization.

In addition, the LSR-M Rating may also serve as a stepping-stone to becoming a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR). This FAA designation covers those who inspect new Special LSA before they are sold. Therefore, demand is good, and so is the income potential.

What can you do if you complete the 120-hour (15-day) LSR-M Maintenance Course?

• Operate commercially. Charge other LSA owners for maintenance and repair services.
• Work on Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA).
• Work on Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (ELSA).
• Perform annual inspections.
• Perform 100-hour inspections.
• Perform routine maintenance on SLSA and ELSA.
• Perform major repairs on SLSA and ELSA.• Perform avionics installations.

Who are LSR-M course participants? The majority tend to be over 50 but range in age from 17 to 86. Among those who participate are Certified Flight Instructors (CFIs) who take the course so they can reduce their operating costs and perform their own maintenance and inspections with the authorization to perform 100-hour inspections. SLSA manufacturers also sign up for the course so they can perform warranty work and the like. And as previously noted, the LSR-M Rating can be used as a steppingstone to the A&P and DAR Certificate, so the repairman can open a Light Sport Aircraft Service Center, or work for an LSA manufacturer or fixed base operator. Others take the course if they want to make a career change. A&P mechanics will also complete the training as a way to meet the requirements for recent experience and to reactivate their A&P Certificate. Some people take the course to specialize in avionics, or engine specialty services, or to specialize in a certain make of Light Sport Aircraft, such as Flight Design or Remos, or Rotax engines.

The variety of needs in the field of Light Sport Aircraft maintenance seems endless, and aircraft maintenance is constantly among the top 10 to 20 career lists by popular websites, such as MonsterJobs, Yahoo! Jobs, and Forbes. It can be a great career and the Light Sport Aircraft community needs qualified people.

For additional information on Light Sport Aircraft Repairman instruction provided by Rainbow Aviation Services, visit www.rainbowaviation.com and call 530-567-5141 or email carol@rainbowaviation.com. Camping is available at Rainbow Aviation’s Kingsville, Missouri location, and there’s a variety of other affordable lodging options.

Rainbow Aviation is a family-owned and operated company. The principal instructor is Brian Carpenter, who was named “Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year” in 2017.

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