Build your own aircraft!

So, you’ve been inspired to click here by our ‘Build Your Own’ feature in the latest issue of FLYER? Here’s some handy links to get you on the way to starting a project of your own…

In the UK you the three main ways to build an aircraft are under the supervision of the Light Aircraft Association (LAA), the British Microlight Association (BMAA), who have delegated responsibility from the Civil Aviation Authority or completely unsupervised by choosing a Single Seat Deregulated design.

If you choose the LAA or BMAA, the easiest homebuilding path is to select one of their approved designs. If you fall in love with a design that’s new to the market, chances are you the process will be slowed by getting the new type approved, and will almost certainly involve assessments of the structure, and flight testing.

The UK’s top-ten most popular kit manufacturers based on new kit-starts registered with the LAA between June 2016 and July 2018 are as follows:

1. Van’s Aircraft. The current models in the RV range are all aluminium airframes – RV-7, RV-8, RV-9, RV-10 and RV-12, and offer two and four seats, side-by-side or tandem, aerobatic or non-aerobatic. Most are assembled using solid ‘driven’ rivets, though the -12 uses pulled rivets. A new model, the RV-14 should receive full UK approval within the next 12 months.

Van’s Aircraft RV-7

2. Eurofox. This two seat high-wing kit is fabric-covered and comes pre-covered and painted from the factory. Available as nosewheel or tailwheel, it can be quickly folded for storage.


3. Bristell. Most frequently powered by the Rotax 912 and has an enormous 50” wide cockpit. It’s also available as a fast-build kit which has been popular with new builders, in either nosewheel or tailwheel configurations.

Bristell NG-5

4. Zenith Aircraft CH750. A high-wing STOL design with an aluminium airframe assembled with pulled-rivets.

Zenith Aircraft CH750 kit

5. The Airplane Factory. This South-African company produces the smart four-seat Sling 4 and two-seat Sling 2 aluminium kit aircraft. Both low-wing, and assembled with pulled rivets.

Sling 4

6. Aeroprakt Foxbat. This STOL high-wing two-seater designed in Ukraine, is powered by a Rotax 912 and its large, highly-glazed cabin offers great visibility. The latest version is the A32 Vixxen.

7. The Light Aircraft Company. UK-based, they offer the Sherwood Ranger biplane,  Sherwood Scout high-wing two-seater and Sherwood Kub SSDR. Tubular metal structures with fabric covered skin, both designs can be folded for storage and transport.

TLAC Sherwood Ranger

8. Lambert Aircraft offer the Mission M108, a high-wing two-seat design. Featuring fabric-covered fuselage and wings, Lambert offer an advanced kit with build-assistance at their factory in Belgium, and option which they say could see a customer an M108 build in 3 weeks. Power is from a ultra-fuel-efficient Rotax 912iS.

Mission M108 Tailwheel

9. Sting Aircraft. Produces the carbon-fibre composite Sting S4 and Sirius. Low and high-wing and both with two-seats, power is from a 100hp Rotax 912ULS. Fast build kits are available, as is builder-assistance.

Sting Aircraft Sirius

10. ING. Nando Groppo. Well-known for the Groppo Trail. This high-wing design features a steel-tube fuselage cage clad in aluminium, with aluminium tail section and wings. It’s assembled with pulled rivets. Power is from a Rotax 912 or Sauer engine. Its clever wing fold mechanism makes it one of the quickest to rig and de-rig.

Groppo Trail

Check out the full list of LAA approved designs. by clicking here, plus click here to find an LAA Inspector near you.

Contact the BMAA Technical office to learn more about approved designs, plus click here to find a BMAA Inspector near you.



  1. They are all nice. But aviation/flying is still out of reach for average person. The light sport aircraft category was supposed to open up aviation with affordable AC. Not one of these AC is affordable to average working class. They range from $100,0000 to almost $400,000 like the Icon 5 and that is not affordable. The only one I have seen that come close to the price of a car is the Sonex.

    1. Yes, the cost of aircraft for personal use is barmy. They have few creature comforts, practically no technology like ABS and airbags that you would expect in the most basic of cars, and they have disfunctional ergonomics – only the rudder pedals are carried over from one type to another, practically everything else is scattered about the cockpit, seemingly randomly.

      You pay extra for basic communication, navigation and any type of ‘cruise control’. There won’t be a decent heater or air conditioning system, and forget in-flight entertainment because you’ll spend much of your time gossiping to air-traffic controllers who will keep wanting to send you off in the wrong direction and tell them where you are. Its like having your own traffic policemen waving instructions at you from every motorway bridge.

      These things are nevertheless as expensive as a Bentley, but unlikely to be anywhere as fast, or safe.

      At present only people blind to the dangers take on flying for fun. They also need to have a substantially warped sense of value-for-money. At least with a boat you might be able to sleep in it at night.

      1. Michael, you really need to visit a microlight club and speak to some of these people who are so blind to the dangers of flying… for fun, i.e. those with a warped sense of value-for-money. Blag a flight and you’ll understand their mindset. Above all, what you’ll find is that they think about safety ALL the time. They check their plane thoroughly before each flight and spend on average, 80 hours in training before they even get a licence. I bet you just get in to your car and drive off without even kicking the tyres…like I do.

        As for the price, well even Bentleys are made on a production line, so costs are sooo much lower. Even the most basic of microlights are hand built from non-mass manufactured parts. Even when sold in kits, they can cost £20-40k, but then take hundreds of hours to assemble. And because they are so expensive, most planes are owned by groups or syndicates, so most microlight pilots only invest something equivalent to a small Korean hatchback. And they only depreciate at around 5-10% / year…until they get to about 10 years old…and level off.

        True, with a boat, you might be able to sleep in it at night, but the view and experience can’t compare. Anyways, we are all so rich we can afford a B&B when we go touring…or take a tent.

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