Aircraft categories and classes explained


The FAA defines an aircraft category as the “intended use or operating limits” of a specific group of aircraft. The aircraft classification refers to a group of aircraft with similar characteristics. The class and category differ depending on pilot certificate ratings or aircraft categories and types. Matlab online is an excellent platform for engineers to design systems used in aircraft. 

Aircraft Categories 

Aircraft categories differ depending on whether the aircraft or the pilot’s certificate is discussed.

Pilot Certificate Categories 

  • Aeroplane

 A fixed-wing aircraft powered by an engine.

  • Lighter-than-Air

 An aircraft that uses a lighter-than-air gas to rise and stay in the air.

  • Powered Parachute

 A powered parachute is an aircraft with a flexible wing, frame, and wheels. Until the plane moves, the wing is not in the proper position or ready to provide lift.

  • Rotorcraft

 One or more spinning rotors keep a rotorcraft in flight.

  • Weight-Shift Control

 They are also referred to as hang gliders. This aircraft has a motor but is only controlled in one direction by changes in the centre of gravity rather than control surfaces.

CFR 14 Aircraft Categories 

When we talk about aircraft categories in terms of size and manoeuvrability, we refer to the CFR 14 types.

  • Acrobatic  

Other than the limitations imposed by specific flight tests, these aeroplanes have no flight manoeuvre restrictions. They can carry nine passengers, not including the pilot, and weigh no more than 12,500 pounds.

  • Commuter 

An aircraft with multiple engines and propellers seats 19 or fewer passengers and weighs less than 19,000 pounds.

  • Experimental 

 Airworthiness certificate issued under a special airworthiness certificate. These aircraft are typically used for R&D, crew training, exhibition, air racing, and market research. They can also be home-built or kit-built aircraft and light sport or crewless aircraft.

  • Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) 

An aircraft that operates under a special airworthiness certificate. This category includes any sport aircraft that is not a kit-built, gyro-plane, or transitioning ultralight.

  • Limited 

 It was reserved for converted and modified military aircraft for civilian use.

  • Normal

 An aircraft with nine or fewer seats and a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less is considered normal. Acrobatic flight is not permitted.

  • Primary

These planes have special airworthiness certificates and are built according to a production certificate.

  • Restricted

 An aircraft is designed for a specific purpose, such as agriculture, forestry, aerial surveying, or weather control.

  • Transport

If powered by a jet engine, more than ten seats weigh more than 12,500 pounds. If it has a piston engine, it must have more than 19 seats and a maximum takeoff weight of more than 19,000 pounds.

  • Utility

Has nine or fewer seats (excluding pilots) and a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds or less. These planes are only permitted to perform limited aerobatics.

Aircraft Classifications

When we talk about aircraft classifications, we’re referring to groups of aircraft with similar flying characteristics in propulsion, in-flight handling, and landing. 

  • Aeroplane – Single-engine land or sea or multi-engine land or sea
  • Rotorcraft – helicopter or gyroplane
  • Lighter-Than-Air – balloons or airships
  • Powered Parachutes – land or sea
  • Weight-Shift-Control – land or sea

You can take up aircraft courses for in-depth learning and a career in the aviation industry. 

Read more interesting articles at Mr Business 360


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here