Aircraft class

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Aircraft classes or aircraft categories are used to group aircraft according to their design and functionality. They are the basis for laws and regulations in aviation law .

Multinational regulations

International Civil Aviation Organization

The International Civil Aviation Organization ( ICAO of English International Civil Aviation Organization ) is a specialized agency of the United Nations . Annex 1 to the ICAO convention divides the aircraft into the following categories and classes:

National regulations


Section 1 (2) of the German Aviation Act (LuftVG) defines the term aircraft for further use in German aviation law by listing main groups. Conversely, according to German law, each individual aircraft is clearly assigned to one of these aircraft classes:

  1. Planes
  2. Rotary wing aircraft
  3. Airships
  4. Gliders
  5. Motor sailer
  6. Free balloons and tethered balloons
  7. (dropped out) (In earlier versions of the LuftVG it said " kite ")
  8. Rescue parachutes
  9. Model aircraft
  10. Air sports equipment
  11. other devices intended for the use of the airspace, provided they can be operated at heights of more than thirty meters above ground or water.
Spacecraft , rockets and similar missiles are considered aircraft as long as they are in airspace . Unmanned aircraft, including their control station, that are not operated for the purposes of sports or recreational activities (unmanned aircraft systems) are also considered to be aircraft.


In Switzerland, aircraft are classified in the following aircraft categories:

Rockets, projectiles, rocket backpacks etc. are not considered aircraft in Switzerland , but rather missiles . Aircraft and missiles are each subgroup of aircraft . Also hovercrafts are not aircraft.


For Austria, the Civil Aircraft and Aviation Equipment Ordinance (ZLLV) defines types of aircraft :

  • Aircraft heavier than self-propelled air
    • Planes
    • helicopter
    • self-launching motor gliders
    • Ultralight aircraft (airplanes, helicopters, motorized paragliders over 120 kg empty weight and gyroplanes in accordance with Regulation (EC) No. 216/2008 (EASA Basic Regulation) )
    • motorized hang glider under 120 kg empty weight
    • motorized paragliders under 120 kg empty weight
    • other
  • Aircraft heavier than air, mostly without their own propulsion
    • Gliders including motor gliders that cannot self-launch,
    • Parachutes
    • Hang glider
    • Paraglider
    • other
  • Aircraft lighter than self-propelled air
    • Airships
      • Gas airships
      • Hot air airships
    • other
  • Aircraft lighter than air without their own propulsion
    • Free balloons
      • Gas balloons
      • Hot air balloons
    • other
  • unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)

United States

In the United States regulations, aircraft are divided into categories and classes based on the type certification and licensing of pilots .

When licensing pilots, the following categories and class ratings are issued:

  • Planes
    • Single engine land aircraft
    • Land aircraft with multiple engines
    • Single engine seaplanes
    • Multi-engine seaplanes
  • Rotary wing aircraft
    • helicopter
    • Gyroplane
  • Gliders
  • Aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities
  • Lighter than air
    • Balloons
    • Airships
  • Paramotor
    • Paramotor - land
    • Paramotor - lake
  • Weight-controlled aircraft
    • Weight Controlled Aircraft - Land
    • Weight-Controlled Aircraft - Sea

For large aircraft over 12,500 pounds and for aircraft with turbine output, there is no class rating, but it is a type rating to buy.

In the area of ​​type certification there are the following aircraft categories:

  • Standard approval under the categories normal , utility , acrobatic , commuter , transport and additionally manned free balloon and special class of aircraft .
  • Special approvals under the primary , restricted , limited , light-sport category , plus provisional airworthiness certificates , special flight permits and experimental certificates .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Appendices to the Convention of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Appendix 1: Personnel Licensing.
  2. a b Ordinance on Aviation (Aviation Ordinance, LFV), Art. 2 of November 14, 1973 (as of April 1, 2011), available online (PDF; 632 kB) (cf. Appendix on page 48)
  3. Federal Aviation Act (Luftfahrtgesetz, LFG), Article 1, December 21, 1948 (as of April 1, 2011) available online (PDF; 270 kB)
  4. Federal Law Gazette II No. 143/2010 : Civil Aircraft and Aviation Equipment Ordinance 2010 - ZLLV 2010 , Part 1, Section 4: Types of aircraft
  5. 14 CFR Part 1 - Definitions. In: Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved April 9, 2020 .
  6. 14 CFR Part 61. In: Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved April 9, 2020 .
  7. 14 CFR Part 21. In: Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved April 9, 2020 .