LSAs. success or failure?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by RalphInCA, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. RalphInCA

    RalphInCA Cleared for Takeoff

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    About four years ago, when I was last actively involved in aviation, the LSA fleet expansion was in full swing.

    Seems like now LSAs have fallen out of favor.

    Has the LSA category been a failure?

    I loved training in my Remos when I was last involved in aviation.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  2. Old Geek

    Old Geek Pattern Altitude

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    I still have and fly my 2006 CTSW. Won't be able to trade it in on a new one any time soon though.
     
  3. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Define success.

    Personally, I think Sport Pilot has been the greatest thing since sliced bread.
     
  4. bullwinkle

    bullwinkle Pattern Altitude

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    Hard to not like my 2007 CTSW, 1320lb gross with 585lb useful and 120 knots. But a lot of what happens in the LSA segment will depend on what happens with the DL medical proposals.

    If the final result kills LSA, I'd be okay with that...my airplane is still great and I'd take a value hit on it to get more people flying in more aircraft.
     
  5. PW_Plack

    PW_Plack Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For anything but airplanes, it's been a disaster. Those who predicted LSA and Sport Pilot would benefit only the FAA's appetite for control have largely been proven correct, IMHO. No significant LSA rental fleet has materialized, and it's still tough to get insurance on anything but airplanes.

    PPCs and trikes, where the old system managed instruction using exemptions obtained through organizations such as ASC and EAA, lost most of the training fleet, because instructors couldn't make buying expensive new S-LSAs pencil out. The result is a very difficult time finding instruction today.

    Gyroplanes were arbitrarily prohibited in S-LSA despite creation of a Sport Pilot Gyroplane certificate. That curse has actually been somewhat of a blessing, because with PRA's training exemption gone the FAA was forced to allow training in experimentals to resume using Letters of Deviation Authority, for lack of any S-LSA trainers. There are about 15 active gyro flight instructors in the US at this time, and one who trains occasionally in a Part 27 gyro with little similarity to the experimentals everyone flies, and most students have to travel a significant distance to get dual.

    For airplanes, the difficulty finding instruction in LSAs only really frustrates would-be Sport Pilots, as a large fleet of Part 23 aircraft remain available as trainers. In the other categories, it's now tough to train toward ANY certificate for lack of active instructors.
     
  6. Kevin87

    Kevin87 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I love LSA. I fly the remos and the evektor. You can't beat the remos only burning 4 gph at cruise.
     
  7. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    The rans courier and the new s20 raven are stellar aircraft and are doing very nicely.
     
  8. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    I've almost stopped flying everything but LSA.
    Since I don't need to be anywhere at any specific time, I don't care how long it takes to get there. I also realized how many great places I had just flown past without stopping when I was in a hurry. There are a lot of small airports all over the Northeast, and if you ask nicely a lot of owners will let you drop in and talk airplanes.
    I've come full circle, and just like when I was a 14 year old and learning to fly, the PA-11 is, once again, my favorite airplane. When my wife is with me we fly a Tecnam P-92.
     
  9. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    For getting old guys in cubs it has been great. Not so much in creating a new fleet. If it provides data that allows medicals to be killed then I'd call it a rousing success.
     
  10. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Pa 11 is just great. I flew a super cruiser a lot when younger. Also a nice nice airplane. The current rules defy logical thought but if relaxed I don't think it will hurt ga too much. A lot of it is getting old and hazardous.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014
  11. poadeleted21

    poadeleted21 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think it's done just the opposite. There is 0 demand for LSA type planes and the regs that go with it. The ultralight guys didn't want it. The PT23 folks didn't care, then the FAA threw in the "no medical" and suddenly there was a market. You think CTSW et. al. are going to like it if the 3rd class medical goes away for flying a Baron? Not at all, we just created a new enemy for dropping the 3rd class medical. Plus, it keeps the folks without a medical from whining as much so there's not as much push back to get rid of it.

    I'm glad a few people get to fly, but overall, I think it was huge negative to aviation.
     
  12. bullwinkle

    bullwinkle Pattern Altitude

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    That's about the best, most positive outlook on SP/LSA I have seen yet! :yes:
     
  13. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    All I can say is I like what I see among the EAB LSAs.
     
  14. CharlieTango

    CharlieTango Line Up and Wait

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    Mostly a success from my perspective.
     
  15. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    I'd buy a new Tecnam, SportCruiser or Carbon Cub in a heartbeat. Certainly before I would even consider any bigger iron.
    BTW: I hold a current medical, so LSA is a choice, not a default.
     
  16. docmirror

    docmirror Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Qualified success. In any other industry or commercial market, it would be a complete failure. In the GA industry/market it was a pretty good success. The herd was thinned as expected, and the best are still with us.

    LSA has allowed people with an interest at a low price point to at least get behind the yoke/stick and give it a try. None of the major players(C,B or P) made it which is a sort-of blessing. Cessnas entry was abysmal and showed that Cessna has no idea what the market wanted.

    Rec pilot was the alternative and it was a complete and utter failure. Of course, the regulations once completed were complex, and occasionally convoluted but it's what I expected from the FAA.
     
  17. Dean

    Dean Pattern Altitude

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    I think it has been a success, several pilots still flying that would have stopped if it were not for LSA's and the lightsport category. I have owned two LSA's and loved them both. Training is available in some experimentals, but they are few and far between. I did my transition training in a 2 seat Challenger in LaMars, IA.
     
  18. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Anything that gets pilots into airplanes and new designs into construction is a success in the book of Steingar.
     
  19. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    RV-12s are being built at a very fast pace. The factory built versions are all presold. 326 are flying and they have sold serial numbers in the 700s.
     
  20. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We finally agree on something. :D

    :yes:
     
  21. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    Low price point? This is part of the problem. It's hard to have an objective argument when the peanut gallery accepts the idea that 100K (as equipped) is a low price point. It might be a low price point when you have to endure the inelasticity of not having a medical :rolleyes2:. Other than that, the premise is preposterous. 100K is a ton of money in a Country of decreasing median household wage a (paltry 51.3K/yr at that) while otherwise inflationary in money supply (read double pay cut).

    The whole premise of LSA was to allow the indebted American proles to take to the skies with car sized price of entry, not starter homes price of entry. For 40K you can do a mooney E and do 145kts without flogging it. The kicker was you needed a medical for it, which sidelined the old guys.

    It was never intened to morph into a way for old guys to pay extortion aviation money for 1/2 the capability for the price of no medical. That was a subversion of the spirit of intent. And don't tell me that's not true; there's enough CFI renewal software I've had to endure pushing that very fallacious agenda of cheap access to the masses. At any rate, that's where it went. Of course the old guys are ok with it, but that and a buck twenty gets a cup of coffee to the young guy looking for the car-sized price of entry to a new aircraft, as was intended. Demographic which btw is more relevant to the survival of the avocation.

    It's been a failure. Remove the medical from part 23 and see what happens to these kites. RVs alone would steam roll them.
     
  22. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    For me, it came on the scene at the perfect time.

    Though healthy overall, one minor issue was causing me to get annual "Special Issuances" which were time consuming, expensive, and sometimes led to treating something that really did not need treating.

    I figure I'm in the twilight of my flying career, and the limitations imposed by Light Sport just don't bother me that much - except the illogical ones. I'm having as much fun in my Sky Arrow as I ever had in anything "bigger".

    Karen, too!

    [​IMG]

    Another big "win" for me was the E-LSA conversion process available to S-LSA's. Being able to do one's own maintenance, parts substitutions and even inspections (with the right training) changes the entire ownership experience to one of immersive involvement.

    The only "failure" I see is that, in general, the planes are far more expensive than I would have predicted. Some are now approaching $200k. I would have thought the action in the market would have been around $50k to $60k - a much fatter part of the bell curve of what average people can afford.

    But the market has spoken and the stripped versions sit while 3-screen, autopilot equipped marvels just keep getting snapped up.

    Who would have figured?
     
  23. Old Geek

    Old Geek Pattern Altitude

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    The oldfart pilots that went to LSA because they couldn't/wouldn't pass a third class physical were low hanging fruit that was picked years ago. The business still moves on. Flight Design has done well enough that they have made continuous improvements to their LSA design and are developing a standard cert 4-seater.

    At my airport, the LSA people are in the minority, but are out flying more than anyone else.
     
  24. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    That is a valid point. There is, or was, some new LSAs in the 50-60K range. Nobody wanted them.
     
  25. bullwinkle

    bullwinkle Pattern Altitude

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    That was the premise FAA used to sell it to pilots. The FAA's "whole premise" was was to get fat ultralights under regulation, by hook or by crook. They had to throw some bones to the aviation community to get buy-in, but make no mistake, this was originally about increasing regulation, not increasing choice and freedom for pilots.

    Given that, I think we ended up with some very positive results.
     
  26. bullwinkle

    bullwinkle Pattern Altitude

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    The story I like to tell about this is illustrative, I think.

    One day I was pulling out my CTSW, while the guy two hangars down pulled out his Cherokee Six. We chatted about airplanes for a bit, then both went flying. As chance would have it, we both came back about 45 minutes later having done some pattern work.

    As we were putting our planes away, the other pilot asked me "How much fuel did you just burn?" I said "I dunno, maybe two gallons." He looked down wistfully at his feet and said quietly "I burned eleven." I was burning 93 octane pump gas (CTSW fuel system is approved for ethanol), he was burning 100LL.

    LSA might not be "cheap" to acquire, but they sure as heck are cheaper to operate than most certified planes. That alone will probably keep them around even if Sport Pilot dies. It's just painful to go out and buzz around without a destination on 8-15gph of 100LL.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014
  27. Kevin87

    Kevin87 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This is a good point. There are quite a bit of LSA guys flying at the controlled airport I fly out of. There is one out there in the pattern almost every time I fly.
     
  28. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    To Andy's point...

    So far this year, I've spent about $280 on fuel for my Sky Arrow.

    Admittedly only about 16 hours, but I could spend more than that topping off my Cirrus once and flying less than 4 hours.

    Makes a big difference in the likelihood I'll jump in the plane and fly "just for fun"!
     
  29. bullwinkle

    bullwinkle Pattern Altitude

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    BTW, I have not seen that Cherokee Six pilot out flying since that day, about eight months ago. :(
     
  30. Concorde

    Concorde Pre-takeoff checklist

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    :yes:
     
  31. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    The SkyReach Bushcat still looks to be available at $50k to $63.5k (price depends on engine):

    http://www.aerosportplanes.com/cheetahslsa

    The X-Air LSA still looks to be available at $60k:

    http://www.x-airlsa.com/

    The Apollo LSA at $70k still appears to be available:

    http://www.silverlightaviation.com/index.php?id=aircraft_airplanes

    The problem doesn't seem to be lack of LSAs at the mentioned price points, but with unreasonable expectations of buyers. On seeing these prices people immediately start comparing capabilities and acquisition cost with planes 30 or more years older having similar costs but that must be maintained under an arguably more rigid set of regulations and generally higher operating and maintenance costs.
     
  32. poadeleted21

    poadeleted21 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes. The target demographic is people who want to fly a Cessna 210 but can't because they have medical issues. Not the guys who got regulated out of their 2 seater ultralights (the actual reason for the law).

    They don't have unreasonable expectations. They're trying go get the most they can out of something they don't want but are forced to deal with if they want to fly.
     
  33. N918KT

    N918KT Line Up and Wait

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    For me, I guess LSA and the sport pilot program are catching on. There are always new LSA models but like me along with everyone else, most people don't have over $100 grand to shell out for a brand new LSA. And most flight schools do not want an LSA or don't want a sport pilot program because maybe it does not fit their flight school's purpose or mission, or if they want an LSA to start a sport pilot program, they can't afford an LSA because it is very expensive to purchase.

    Sometimes, I wish the FAA can mandate that all flight schools in the U.S. should start implementing a sport pilot program and purchase some LSAs for rental. If the flight schools do not have the money, maybe the FAA should provide some financing or funding to flight schools so they can afford an LSA or two. If we start having flight schools across the U.S. start a sport pilot program, perhaps there would be more LSAs for training and rental across the country and hopefully with federal financing or funding from the FAA to help flight schools to purchase an LSA, hopefully the mass purchasing of LSAs would bring down the sticker price of a brand new LSA.
     
  34. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    You think it is expensive now just get the FAA mandating them and handing them out.:rolleyes2:

     
  35. jbarrass

    jbarrass Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Success, when I'm done with the Comanche, I'm buying a Carbon Cub. I'm thrilled the LSA market has delivered such a plane....
     
  36. zaitcev

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    Always forgetting the cost of gas, I see (even leaving the retract insurance).

    I was denied the medical when I was what... 45? I suppose it's "old" by the standards of high schoolers.

    The price of RV-12 pretty much proves that the prices of S-LSAs in general were well founded. The heavier factory-made RVs aren't going to be cheaper. So they would steamroll old junk like Pipers and Mooneys, but not LSAs.
     
  37. zaitcev

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    I suspect these prices may be just a little too optimistic. Although, perhaps, getting a BushCat for $65k is possible, if you're willing to wait. Apollo Fox had an exceedingly tortured history in U.S. with distributor changes. It's typical of imported S-LSAs... Even the mighty Tecnam managed to appoint a west coast distributor, who went on to film an interview with Dan Johnson, then got busted for flying sacks of marijuana.

    X-Air, as far as I know, is factually dead. They did not sell an airplane in years. It was a cute little thing, more the pity. That refueling "door" with a zipper was an excellent touch for frugal pilots.

    So, leaving exotics aside, the cheapest Kitfox clone that you can buy is actually Aerotrek, which teeters on the brink of $80k by omitting radios from the base price.

    Just to give you an idea how fast the inflation was, here's the price of the cheapest certificated airplane you can buy, ACA Champ. 2011: $109,000; 2012 $115,900; 2012/10 $120,900; 2014/03 $124,500. Note that it's cheaper than many S-LSAs (although those S-LSAs beat Champ in every performance metric: payload, speed, range).

    P.S. Quicksilver managed to certify an S-LSA at last. You can get one for something like $45k. Even uses wing struts instead of wires!

    P.P.S. One really amazing way to fight costs is Aerosport: it's a single seater. They promise $55k price... 110 kts... on the power of Hirth F-23.
     
  38. RalphInCA

    RalphInCA Cleared for Takeoff

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    The biggest telltale for me is Cessna's abandonment of the SkyCatcher.
     
  39. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Was that the market or a dud airplane?
     
  40. zaitcev

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    Skycatcher is the telltale of Cessna's migration upmarket in general. Skyhawk is also in a major trouble - major enough that Paul Bertorelli noticed. If Skycatcher's failure had anything to do with LSAs, Skyhawk would not be faltering.

    But think: what kind of manufacturer is going to expend resources on $145k airplanes when it can sell $20m airplanes to Swiss military? Not Textron. I'm going to even further and predict not only failure Skyhawk, but Skylane too. It's just going to take a little longer. It does not tell us anything about the success of LSA, just about bloated and over-buraucratized companies.

    P.S. Another symptom of Cessna's failure is that they sell 1 TTx for 12 Cirruses. Airplanes are nearly identical, the wing failures are well and truly fixed, the airplane is not made by Chinese-owned company. If they can't sell a $800k airplane, what chances did Skycatcher have?!
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014