By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief
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Piper Aircraft says it's going back to its roots with a Czech-built light sport aircraft it's calling the PiperSport. In its first appearance at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla. today, the company unveiled the aircraft, which was previously sold as a SportCruiser by Czech Sport Aircraft. The two companies now have a licensing agreement and Piper says it's ready to start deliveries in April. "Piper's heritage dates from what was one of the original 'LSA' aircraft of its time: the venerable Piper Cub," Piper CEO Kevin Gould said. "Consequently, Piper is in many ways returning to a market segment we played an integral role in inventing ... but with all the modern, state-of-the-art elements that our customers expect today, from design and manufacturing to performance, avionics and reliability. There will be three models; the basic PiperSport ($119,900), training-oriented LT ($129,900) and decked out LTD ($139,900).
All will be powered by the Rotax 912 that will run happily on premium unleaded mogas or 100LL. Useful load on the mandated maximum weight of 1320 pounds is 600 pounds. If the seat and baggage load allow, the tanks will hold 30 gallons and maximum range is 600 nm. Like other manufacturers of larger aircraft that have included LSAs in their lineup, or are planning to, the idea is to start new pilots on Pipers so they'll keep buying them. "The PiperSport is an amazing entry-level aircraft that will bring new customers into Piper and lead the way for those customers to step up into more sophisticated and higher performance aircraft within our line over time," Gould said.