LSA Weight Limits: Is Higher Better?

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

The notion of raising the weight limit for light sport aircraft seems to wax and wane and it came up this week again at the Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring. It's not exactly clear to me what this will accomplish, but at the LAMA dinner on Thursday, EAA's Rod Hightower said the idea may be on the table as a means of improving safety.

I'm not sure how that would work. The light sport segment hasn't built enough of a record to judge accident patterns in any meaningful way. We do know that some LSAs don't hold up very well in the training environment because they just lack the structure to be as durable as, say, a Cessna 150. But adding weight is not necessarily the solution to that, although redesigning certain parts based on field experience may be.

Higher weight limits could help some manufacturers whose airplanes are already on the heavy side. Legend, for instance, recently installed the Lycoming O-233 in its popular Cub. Compared to other LSAs, the Legends tend toward the heavy and putting in a heavier, more powerful engine pushes them to the practical limit. A higher allowable gross would help.

But what regulation giveth on the one hand, it taketh away on the other. Depending on how such a rule is implemented, a weight increase could include more legacy airplanes under the LSA umbrella, including Cessna 120s and 140s Luscombe 8Es and some of the Taylorcraft and Aeronca models that are now just over the weight line. Unfortunately for companies trying to sell new LSAs, every legacy airplane out there potentially represents one less sale in an industry that needs every sale it can get.

The 1320-pound gross weight limit for U.S. LSAs wasn't entirely arbitrary. It was intended to include just enough of the legacy fleet to prime the pump, but not so much as to discourage the development of new models. That intent has worked a little too well, perhaps. There are so many LSAs out there and so many companies flogging them that hardly any are doing well at it. The longer we go without the inevitable shakeout, the worse it will be for the industry itself and customers. Buyers like choice, but there's so much of it that I think many just tune out, deciding they'll wait until the strong companies emerge as survivors.

Walking the line at Sebring this week, I got the distinct impression of an industry that's losing energy. Or at least the show is. Bending to economic reality, some of the exhibitors seemed to have down scaled from last year and the show seemed less expansive. I'm still not seeing the ignition point I've been looking for and too many manufacturers talk as though larger volume sales are just around the corner. I don't see it. Sooner or later, we're going to have to get past this whistling-through-the-graveyard phase and on to the firmer ground of realistic sales volume. I'm not sure if a weight increase would help or hinder that.

Comments (142)

My guess would be if the weight limit were increased enough to include the Cessna 150/152, that would be the end of the LSA industry.

Posted by: Richard Montague | January 20, 2012 9:03 AM    Report this comment

If what they want to do is increase safety, vs utility, they should at least make weight allowances for safety equipment. In particular for things like parachutes and airbag seat belts. Given the number of bubble canopies in LSA's perhaps rollover protection should be included.

Posted by: Ron Steele | January 20, 2012 9:14 AM    Report this comment

The weight restriction were always based on markets, NOT on safety. Think about that for a while.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 20, 2012 10:45 AM    Report this comment

I don't see any reason a LSA needs to heavier to be safer.

Some manufactures are using the LSA rules as a way of avoiding certification and are already pushing the envelope in the process with planes that are too powerful, too slippery, or too ambitious (like flying cars and sexy amphibians with electric folding wings).

I'm afraid that if a higher gross weight is allowed, all that will happen is that the higher gross will be used up with more "bells and whistles" and not used to make the designs safer or installing safety equipment.

Posted by: Kris Larson | January 20, 2012 11:20 AM    Report this comment

The weight limit on LSA's is a poor choice of metrics for determining what should be in the category. LSA's were supposed to be for pilots that didn't have the training, experience, or ability to pass a medical that was needed to fly FAR 23 certified machines.

A much better restriction would be based on wing loading and perhaps also overall power. Low wing loading is much more important to ensuring safety than low weight and low maximum speeds.

Posted by: Andrew Upson | January 20, 2012 2:57 PM    Report this comment

Andrew, really? Chip on your shoulder? One problem with aviation seems to continue to include those who think they're better than others based on the certification of what they're flying. Jee whiz Andrew, please tell me what it's like to be a real pilot.

Posted by: Jay | January 20, 2012 6:01 PM    Report this comment

Piper Cubs that cost $150K--that's LSA in a nutshell. Bring down the cost, and more people will buy. If you can't bring down the cost, you're stuck. That's that.

There simply aren't enough people in the overlap between those who can afford a $150K, 100-knot two-seater (plus the hangaring, plus the insurance) and those who (like me) limit themselves to sport pilot. Spend another $5K on training, save $100K on the airplane. That leaves pretty much only those who fear the medical--retirees facing age-related conditions, and a smattering of depression/ADD sufferers who face the catch-22 of the FAA's stone-age drug policies.

Hmm, maybe I'm in a cynical mood today. But come on... a Porsche can cost less than an LSA and go twice as fast.

Posted by: Patrick Underwood | January 20, 2012 6:13 PM    Report this comment

And yes, I implied an airplane is just another recreational vehicle that happens to fly through the air rather than roll on the ground. Of course that's not what I think, or what you think. But the general population? Yeah, that's what they think. Not many rational people are going to take on the equivalent of another mortgage just to fly around for fun a couple times a month.

Posted by: Patrick Underwood | January 20, 2012 6:33 PM    Report this comment

"Not many rational people are going to take on the equivalent of another mortgage just to fly around for fun"

Because of the costs and regulations, you have to be crazy to fly and insane to own an aircraft. That puts ownership in the same ballpark as marriage. It's a huge commitment that is irrational if you drew it out as an equation on paper.

LSA's are another seductive proposition, a tease, but ultimately still need the same fixed costs and overhaul schedules as any other "simple" aircraft. Even a slight weigh gain is going to be irrelevant in overall cost or ultimate safety.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2012 10:11 AM    Report this comment

It's a no brainer; the weight limit needs to go up. Too many LSA's have marginal payload available, making dangerous overgross operation all the more likely. Designs with more payload capability, but still just two seats, would be safer, and more practical.

Posted by: Bob Newman | January 21, 2012 10:30 PM    Report this comment

Nobody seems interested in talking about the elephant in the room, so I will.

We were all expecting EAA/AOPA proposal promised for release with arrival of the new year. Where is it?

The lack of excitement at Sebring might be for the reasons mentioned, but I think it is the 3rd class medical proposal that had the most impact. If pilots who don't want to deal with "Special Issuance" hoops to jump through can legally fly planes bigger and "Better" than LSA then the impact on S-LSA sales will be enormous. I don't think they will disappear entirely but they will certainly be impacted for some period of time.

All the talk of adding a few pounds to the LSA definition is really not about safety. It is about people who want to fly 150s without a medical certificate.

Lets settle the 3rd class issue before getting carried away with making small adjustments to the LSA definition. For actual Sport Pilots the LSA definition is already workable. For pilots with more training and experience my money goes on the notion the kind of plane they fly just doesn't have a safety impact at all. It is all about bureaucratic turf at the FAA rather than safety of the flight operations.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 23, 2012 6:03 AM    Report this comment

It's not about the airplanes per se'. It's about the pilots. The more AFFORDABLE LSA's there are out there (ie; legacy certified airplanes) the more pilots will be out there flying them. The more pilots out there flying increases the buying pool that might upgrade to a more advanced modern LSA at some point. The industry needs to keep people flying long enough for the market to expand. If so many people are priced out there will be no market, period. Get the gross weight up to include legacy aircraft and watch the market grow. It may hurt some LSA manufacturers in the short term but in the long term it will allow the market the time required to mature. It's good for aviation in general too. We need more pilots, active pilots. We need as many ways possible to recruit and maintain active pilots of all types. Impediments like the 1320 gross weight limit are hurting aviation in general. Get rid of it now. Get all the classic two seaters into the market as quick as possible.

Posted by: Gary Caron | January 23, 2012 7:00 AM    Report this comment

The NTSB does not investigate or record LSA accidents!

I have personally witnessed numerous LSA hard landings leading to major damage to these aircraft.

I higher weight would not only improve safety it would encompass many fine US made two seat trainers already available at a much lower price

Most LSA aircraft are built overseas at a much lower standard then US produced FAR Part 23 aircraft.

Just GOGGLE "LSA ACCIDENTS" and hold on to your hat.

These LSA aircraft are to light, dangerous and simply can not stand up to student training.

The FAA must increase the weight of LSA aircraft for safety of the non-flying public

The situation will only become worse unless something is done here!

Thank You

Posted by: Richard Wyeroski | January 23, 2012 7:04 AM    Report this comment

No, no weight increase. Very clearly the LSA was created to make a category for 2 seat ultralights. What is now called "LSA" is already pushing the envelope, too much! Instead, it would be beter to create 2 classes of aircraft: The fixed gear, 180hp day VFR that should allow flying with driver license medical standards. This is what the LSA weight increase is all about. And the less than 2 ton (4400lbs) category that should have greatly relaxed equipment certification standards and allow for a type specific owner A&P maintenance certificate, similar to the LSA mechanic. The type clubs could provide training for those so inclined. Mechanics need not be afraid, look how many use their current maintenance privileges under Part91, but those owners afraid of mechanics will finally be able to legally maintain their aircraft.

Posted by: Robert Ziegler | January 23, 2012 7:19 AM    Report this comment

Earl Lawrence, then the EAA's VP of gov't affairs, now head of the FAA's Small Airplane Directorate and deeply involved in the creation of the LSA certification, told me in 2010 that the 1320 lb weight was chosen based on accident statistics. He said that when plotted against MTOW, there is an inflection point on accident severity, higher weights resulting in greater risk of injury.

"Most LSA aircraft are built overseas at a much lower standard then US produced FAR Part 23 aircraft." I disagree, in fact EASA/ASTM standards are tougher in some respects, for instance stall speed. Plus, many LSA aircraft are certified in Europe as higher performance aircraft against Part 23 standards. Many are offered with variable pitch props and retractable gears, cruise much faster, and are actually 'derated' in order to be sold in the US as LSAs.

It seems to me unfair to the LSA industry to change the rules in the middle of the game after they have invested heavily to produce LSA-compliant aircraft.

Do not overlook the many fine used Part 23, LSA-compliant aircraft that can be purchased for $20k-$30k, eg Ercoupes, Champs, Cubs, etc.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | January 23, 2012 7:38 AM    Report this comment

If a weight increase could help address the issue of cost, that would be helpful. If it could help address payload, that would be helpful. 2 pilots, full gas and a bag or two. I know one LSA manufacturer that says going to 1420 from 1320 would be very helpful.

Finally, the REAL issue LSA and GA faces is ACCESS. More pilots changes the economic equation. How do that? Lower costs. The industry needs to consolidate to a few manufacturers that sell a reasonable volume to get retail costs for a reasonable equipped plane under 100k INCLUDING training to sport pilot level. Do that and they can weigh a ton.

Obviously this is just scratching the surface, but I honestly don't think the arbitrary 1320 is what is holding us back. At least it is not in the top 5 reasons.

Posted by: Leonard Assante | January 23, 2012 7:40 AM    Report this comment

The 1320 pound LSA is arbitrary and was based on the European weight of 600 kilos.

Posted by: Ray Hunter | January 23, 2012 8:02 AM    Report this comment

Paul B., I tend to agree with you: If the weight goes up it will permit more 'legacy' aircraft to fly as an LSA and result in fewer new LSA sales. The cost of ownership is the reality! I simply cannot afford or justify the cost of a new LSA for 'fun' flying.

Regarding the weight issue, everyone needs to keep in mind the FAA CANNOT DEMAND ASTM change the related standards to support this weight increase! They are INTERNATIONAL Standards and all the participants have to agree to an across-the-board change of this type. At best, the FAA could approve this for LSA flown under their jurisdiction and ask the F37 committee to add an ANNEX to the applicable standards to reflect this change for LSAs flown under FAA jurisdiction.

Posted by: Richard Norris | January 23, 2012 8:13 AM    Report this comment

All that said, I am still in favor of the FAA getting rid of the Third-Class Physical as has been suggested by several groups.

Posted by: Richard Norris | January 23, 2012 8:15 AM    Report this comment

"The 1320 pound LSA is arbitrary and was based on the European weight of 600 kilos."

Earl Lawrence, then the EAA's VP of gov't affairs, now head of the FAA's Small Airplane Directorate and deeply involved in the creation of the LSA certification, told me in 2010 that the 1320 lb weight was chosen based on accident statistics. He said that when plotted against MTOW, there is an inflection point on accident severity, higher weights resulting in greater risk of injury. This does not sound arbitrary to me.

I wonder if Paul Bertorelli can ask Earl to chime in on this since Earl was heavily involved in crafting the LSA specifications and has worked closely with EASA on this subject for years.

European sport aircraft are more typically in the 120 kg (microlight) and 450 kg (ultralight), not 600kg. Germans call a 600kg airplane a 'fat' ultralight. Their ultralights are our LSAs. Their microlights are our ultralights.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | January 23, 2012 8:16 AM    Report this comment

The bottom line here is that the people who are "crazy" enough to want to fly and buy airplanes are mostly older. They either have or will face minor medical issues which hold them back. The ridiculous cost of an LSA given it's limited usefulness is what's holding the LSA movement back. There is plenty of interest but not many can afford OR justify a $150K Cub when they see fine used C172s or similar for sale for 1/3 that much. The bottom line here is that we absolutely MUST foster an environment that draws in more pilots, particularly younger pilots. Keeping the older ones is a first step but inventing new ones is the only thing which will save aviation. Increase LSA limits AND make recreational flying without a medical an immediate action and "they" will come.

It's time that the AOPA, EAA and FAA plus LAMA and GAMA get off their fat you know what's and DO something ... stop talking, arguing and hiding behind "safety" and DO something.

I predict that if the recreational no-medical pilot idea becomes reality, general aviation will explode once again.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 23, 2012 8:25 AM    Report this comment

I've been flying for 40 years and am nipping 65. Like many other "older" pilots, I fear for my medical and it holds me back from making large aviation purchases despite being able to. I also own a C172 and a PA28. I hold an A&P mostly to be able to maintain my own airplanes at reasonable cost. One place where LSA gets it "right" is that an A&P can annual the airplane and is one of the two reasons LSA attracts me. The other is obvious - no medical. Problem is, with the low 1320 MGTOW limit, the airplanes aren't useful to me. If they can't go fast or can't go far or can't carry two REAL adults, they aren't useful. Now toss in cost and they lose their allure. I was AT Sebring and most attendees are older men - they look like ME! If I could be assured of being able to fly until I decide it's not safe, I might even be able to justify purchase of a NEW C172 and sell my older equipment to others. ALL of the stakeholders in this situation just can't seem to "get" that there IS a market but they haven't yet captured it because everyone is nipping at the edges vs. fostering an environment that combines safety and usefulness and reasonableness.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 23, 2012 8:36 AM    Report this comment

If the weight is raised to include the 150 and 152, then the training should be revised so that what are now endorsements to be added at any time after the Sport Pilot ticket is issued, would be part of the curriculum and testing for the ticket. I've listened to too many SP pilots talk about the weather as though it's some kind of instantaneous miracle, rather than a reasonably predictable process that can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy. This particularly true of icing conditions and fog formation, both of which as we know, are absolutely unforgiving of the unprepared.

Posted by: Rick Girard | January 23, 2012 9:14 AM    Report this comment

>>I predict that if the recreational no-medical pilot idea becomes reality, general aviation will explode once again.

I agree, Larry. And the corollary to your statement is that if the recreational no-medical pilot idea does not become a reality, general aviation will die a slow, withering death.

My head explodes every time a discussion of the medical certificate requirement for private/recreational pilots comes up. There is no rational reason for the requirement. I think AOPA/EAA have a much better idea--a biennial course requirement on pilot health and physiology which can be accomplished on your home computer.

I would truly love to enjoy and fly my Stinson, which I have owned for 17 years, when I hang up my corporate wings. At the first sign of health issues, though, I will drop my medical like a hot potato and my flying days will be over. I simply will not jump through the hoops that some pilots do to keep their medicals valid. The price/utility of new LSA's is a deal breaker. Even used prices on Legend Cubs, my favorite, is above 85K, still too much for me. Let's hope that the bureaucrats will see the light at some point, promulgate some rational rules, and save the GA industry.

Posted by: Dennis Crenshaw | January 23, 2012 9:27 AM    Report this comment

I would have liked to have gotten an LSA license as soon as it came out several years ago. I didn't. Why? Because I cannot justify spending $20 to 30K for a legacy LSA let alone $100K for a new one plus $200/mon hangar fees plus insurance plus maintainence just for recreational flying. I could afford the training and rental but there aren't any LSA planes to rent in my area and I'm sure that is not an isolated case. Why do we want to protect European Mfgs market by excluding existing Leagacy airplanes? Our economy is supposed to be based on competition, not protected markets. The 1320 weight limit slammed the door on US companies. If the weight limit was high enough to include the Cessna 150 that is common at most training facilities and also available for rent, the LSA would have taken off with a lot of new pilots with people like me that can afford the training and rental but not the cost to own an airplane. Too bad more training facilities aren't using and renting Champs and Taylorcrafts but taildraggers are harder to learn on so I suppose that's why the 150 is preferred since taildraggers have the most accidents and resulting higher insurance costs. Increase the weight limit to make the Cessna 150 legal and watch what happens to the number of new LSA pilots. Sure that would hurt all the European LSA sales but that is what the free market place and competition in the USA is supposed to be about. And why aren't we more worried about US Mfgs than a European Mfg?

Posted by: Don Thun | January 23, 2012 10:22 AM    Report this comment

Dennis - sounds like we're on the same frequency v. the Legend Cub. I actually test flew one at Sebring a few years back and made a trip to their factory. I would LOVE to own one but the price v. usefullness of the airplane v. keeping my C172 or PA28 just doesn't add up. I've owned the C172 for 27 years and it is truly a wonderful low end GA airplane. Why I should have to sell it AND the PA28 to maybe get half of what the Legend Cub costs cannot be justified no matter how I analyze it. In 1975 when my C172M was built, Cessna sold thousands of 'em at less than $25K. Now, a new one is $280K ... gimme a break, Cessna. You GOT tort reform but it didn't do the users any good! I even ordered a new C162 SkyCatcher but went crazy when I found out they were going to be built in China - I'm retired USAF. At Sebring 2012, the C162 SkyCatcher demo airplane was sitting at the gate with very few lookers. Cessna blew it.

One place where Cessna is passing up an opportunity is to form a subsidiary to take in clean used airplanes and IRAN them. Instead, they work with their cronies at the FAA and make still another 'aging aircraft' maintenance requirement. Someone at Cessna needs to get their act together and figure out how to make a low end reasonably cost airplane INSIDE the USA. The interest and the money is there IF the numbers and usefulness add up.

If the FAA, et al, don't get their act together, I hope the last US pilot to fly remembers to turn off the runway lights.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 23, 2012 10:28 AM    Report this comment

If they think they will change the rules and sell more planes they should stop right there. They will almost certainly hurt the market with a change because they always do. Look at how the tax rules affected piston GA. They bumped up manufacturing with bonus depreciation then let the IRS limit non business use and watched it crater.

IMO, the idea of change is most likely driven by some desire for someone to do something easy rather than the tough things they ought to be doing. Or, it's a plan to continue clearing the skies and ramps of owner flown aircraft.

Posted by: Eric Warren | January 23, 2012 10:34 AM    Report this comment

Don ... at St. Augustine, FL (SGJ), the FBO now has a Taylorcraft BC12D for rent and the pilots are lining up for it ... at $100/hr. Thats a bit much but - as you said - there aren't many places a Light Sport wannabe can get their hands on one. I know the Light Sport schools will attack my comment but its true. In the 70's when I learned how to fly, flight schools had lots of 150's and 172's for rent. Now, a person has to look long and far to find a school that has one. Part of the reason is cost, part is the economy and part is the BS that the FAA heaps upon us in the name of "safety." They don't "get" that living results in death. Making commercial aviation 100% safe is one thing; making GA equally safe results in onerous regulation which just impedes growth. When the FAA finds out that they have one employee for every active pilot, they'll "get" it.

HEY ... FAA ... is anyone there listening with the hosepower to DO something about this? Remove the medical requirement for day VFR GA flying and you'll get an attaboy from THIS old pilot and instant growth.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 23, 2012 10:42 AM    Report this comment

Demographics dictate a big change in the near future. On two fronts:

* 10,000 baby boomers retire every day in the United States. If the FAA wants to keep their girth/funding/size/relevance they will need to cater to this unique, monstrous segment of our populace.

* The FAA's success at making flying safe has failed at the GA level to allow innovation and growth. We all know this and the numbers prove it. Granted, lawsuits didn't help.

For once the devil really isn't in the details. Larry Stencel says it beautifully above: stop nipping at the details and blanket exclude everything under 6000lbs from third-class medicals.

You can't market glass panels and parachutes if there aren't any pilots to buy them.

Posted by: Pete Kuhns | January 23, 2012 10:45 AM    Report this comment

The medical will not go away because pilots are a small minority of the populace--many folks don't know a single one. All it would take is one crash, and a news story that "the pilot did not hold an FAA medical certificate due to recent regulation changes," and the public would scream for reintroduction of the medical limits. Never mind that the 85 year old guy down the block has been in two accidents and can barely walk to his car, the automobile is an inalienable American right. Airplanes aren't, ane never will be. The medical is with us for eternity.

Posted by: David Chuljian | January 23, 2012 10:57 AM    Report this comment

Hey, fellow pilots ... maybe we've hit upon something here. Let's take a page from the "occupiers" and get together and march on the FAA in Washington. We can surround the bldg and keep them IN there until they get real and drop the medical requirement for recreational flying of Class I airplanes. This latest BS about not being able to make any decisions on it because they don't have an Administrator is just plain wrong. Who the heck is running FAA anyhow ... lawyers??

Pete hits it on the head ... aging baby boomers need to start demanding that the Gov't -- who demands no discrimination in numerous legislation -- actually discriminates against aging pilots for no reason based upon medical incapacitation. One thing that the Light Sport movement DID provide is that no medicals don't result in LSA's falling out of the sky because of incapacitation.

Three Renegades were sold at Sebring ... WOW !! Is the Company listed on the NYSE? That's enough to make ME want to invest either in the Company or the airplane.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | January 23, 2012 11:11 AM    Report this comment

I've been flying my Luscombe 8E (1400 lb gross) since 1972 and I turned 65 last year. Don't try to tell me that hand-propping a Luscombe 8A, which qualifies as an LSA would be safer than my electrical system equipped (starter, generator, mode C transponder, GPS nav, strobe & nav lights) model. The LSA gross weight increase would keep more pilots flying and bring in more of the next generation to become pilots and keep the classics flying.

Posted by: Doug McDowall | January 23, 2012 11:22 AM    Report this comment

As a former FAA Inspector I can say that the FAA has always been a reactive agency to G/A accidents.

The safety programs the FAA hands out, do not get to the "problem" pilots that are having the accidents and incidents that effect us all.

I initially supported the so called "LSA" movement because I believed that this new industry could help our country get back on its feet.

However, after realizing that 95% of all LSA aircraft are produced over seas, I believe LAMA as a destructive force to the US economy and actually hurt US aircraft manufacturers big time.

FAA literally has no clue what to do here. If you "google" "LIGHT SPORT AIRCRAFT ACCIDENTS" The sad results are all to evident.

The NTSB amazingly do not investigate or track LSA accidents!

The FAA could simply increase the LSA weight requirement and many good reliable and plentiful aircraft will be immediately available for sale. This would reduce the cost of flying and ownership considerably!

Lastly the whole problem here is FAA Flight Standards at 800 Independence Avenue in Washington DC. It is full of bureaucrats that are either incapable or afraid or in someones pocket, to make a proper decision.

It is simple....INCREASE THE WEIGHT

Richard Wyeroski FORMER FAA Safety Inspector

Posted by: Richard Wyeroski | January 23, 2012 11:24 AM    Report this comment

Appears to me that there are really two issues, that have been muddled into one by the LSA regulations. Medical certification needs to be a separate issue. My feeling is that any competent pilot should be allowed to fly for recreation or sport purposes in day VFR conditions without the need for FAA medical certification. Gross weight of the aircraft shouldn't be a issue. The limitations should be in the conditions and purpose of flight, not in the size of the airplane. LSA's of $150,000 are a joke. Who can afford it? Just the cost of liability insurance could be a deal breaker for most would-be manufacturers of low cost aircraft. Couple that with the cost of bringing any new product to market, especially aircraft, and the LSA product just may not make that much sense to enough people. Yes, it's always been about the market. The LSA industry may be the big party thrown, to which no one is coming.

Relax the weight restrictions. Put the limitations on the conditions and purpose of flight.

Posted by: Dennis Vied | January 23, 2012 12:19 PM    Report this comment

Dennis Vied - I agree with much of your comment regarding elimination of the 3rd class medical. I do wonder why you think a medical certificate from the FAA bureaucrats makes IFR flight OK but the Driver's License which will almost certainly replace the 3rd class should be for VFR only. I personally think the D/L is better for dealing with severe medical conditions than the FAA certificate. This is because doctors are required to report certain serious problems when they are diagnosed to state authorities who immediately pull the patient's driver's license. The FAA approach is to wait until the next renewal to learn about this kind of thing.

In all cases, the notion behind the FAA medical certificates is that the bureaucrats are better at deciding whether a pilot is healthy enough to fly than the pilot himself. This is simply preposterous. Most pilots I have known are much more concerned about flying when they are not fit than the bureaucrats can ever be. After all, their life depends on the correctness of the decision. The entire purpose of the FAA aeromedical department is to second guess pilots on this single judgement.

I do agree with you that medical certification for recreational pilots and specification of LSA weight are totally separate issues. I would leave the LSA question alone and eliminate the 3rd class medical altogether. Then everyone (except the bureaucrats) will be happy.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 23, 2012 12:41 PM    Report this comment

I believe the most recent argument for increasing gross weight for LSA had nothing to do with making C150/152 eligible for operation by Sport Pilots. The driver license medical (now on hold because of the turnover at the top of the FAA) would take care of that issue, by enabling Private/Recreational Pilots to operate without a medical. That could actually be a positive for LSA, finally allowing the class to escape the "for half-dead old geezers" box it has locked itself into from a marketing perspective. LSA offers Experimental-like innovation without the cost of certification, and that should be its focus.

What I have been hearing proposed in the past couple of years was that LSA should have the same kind of gross weight exemption for safety equipment that ultralights have: the weight of ballistic parachute, and possibly air bags, would be omitted from the aircraft's weight (or added to the allowable gross weight). The idea, obviously, is to avoid having the weight limit act as a disincentive to installing safety equipment, in aircraft where the weight limit tends to be a significant operational constraint. The reason it has come up is that a number of designers, who have done all-metal designs, found the only way to meet all the structural margins they wanted, carry two people and fuel and bags, was to leave out the ballistic chute - and that doesn't seem to them, or anyone, like the right incentive structure.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | January 23, 2012 1:02 PM    Report this comment

P.S. The idea that you need a medical to fly IFR makes no sense. I could see an argument for limiting operations to 4 or 6 seats, and to some gross weight limit - but for night/IFR? That does seem arbitrary.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | January 23, 2012 1:03 PM    Report this comment

A big problem is still that in many places, you just can't rent an LSA aircraft. FBOs and flight schools, especially in less densely populated areas, are struggling as it is. If someone wanted to get their Sport Pilot Certificate before buying a new LSA, they're often out of luck.

I think the LSA industry might suffer in the short term if the standard were broadened to allow a 150/152. In the long term, there would be a whole lot more pilots if people could could train for Light Sport (including solo), and take the check ride in a 150

Posted by: John McNerney | January 23, 2012 1:20 PM    Report this comment

John, Eliminating the 3rd class medical would also solve that problem. Then anyone who can drive a car could rent an airplane at their local airport.

OK, with this situation some pilot candidates would wind up going for the Private Pilot certificate instead of Sport Pilot because of the availability of suitable aircraft. I'm not sure that would be a bad decision. The Private Pilot certificate has served both aviation hobbyists and those bound for professional pilot careers for a long time now. The Sport Pilot choice broadens the field to include those pilots who really only want to fly simple airplanes in the daytime near their starting point. However, I submit even those individuals would benefit from training in instrument, night, and cross country flight required for the Private Pilot certificate. It would raise the cost for their first ratings, but not nearly as much as the current rules do if they want to own their own aircraft.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 23, 2012 2:02 PM    Report this comment

Higher weight limit is safer ... hmmm .... please explain to me how this is possible. Sure, if you put the weight into aircraft structure, where the structure is currently inadequate, then you might increase safety. As to why aircraft with inadequate structure are currently being sold, that is an issue.

No, what people want to do is haul more weight around, and every bit of additional weight makes the aircraft less safe, not more. Of course, if you don't mind wings failing, landing gear colasping, and such, then go ahead, carry more weight around.

Of course, I'm not sure just what niche LSA is trying to fill. The original NPRM was intended to legalize the people who were flying unregistered aircraft and calling them Ultralights. It hasn't seemed to help those people very much. Nor do I feel that $100,000 plus aircraft are reasonable for recreation.

Posted by: David Froble | January 23, 2012 2:31 PM    Report this comment

As a 77yr.-old CFII, I've been puzzled by the weight issue for LSA. Without giving much recent thought, I believe I concluded sometime ago that 280lbs. gross weight was all that was keeping hundreds of piots out of the sky, as well as, out of one of the most pilot-friendly, safe & simple airplanes ever built and still flying...the Cessna 150/152. These same "hundreds", maybe thousands also don't have over $100,000 to spend. But would still be spending lots of money flying.

Posted by: Unknown | January 23, 2012 2:36 PM    Report this comment

LSA were an attempt to define a plane to be used for recreational flying. This is different from the C-150 and the other part 23 type certificated planes which were designed to meet a commercial aircraft standard.

It is a shame the factory LSA market has jumped up to over $100,000 for a new plane. Try buying a factory new part 23 plane. You will pay at least twice that much and likely a lot more. New C-182's are something around $600,000. This reflects the attack against the US Dollar being waged by our own government. Between the overspending (1.40 for every 1 taken in) and the policy of the treasury and Fed. there has been a decided effort to reduce the value of the dollar. That makes everything, but especially foreign built airplanes, cost more than they used to.

LSA still are a bargain compared to part 23 planes of the same age. The only reason it seems less costly to fly C-150s than LSA is you are comparing 30 or 40 year old planes to factory new ones.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 23, 2012 3:48 PM    Report this comment

What is the functional argument for restricting none FAA medical pilots to day/VFR or one pax? I don't see the safety issue there.

Posted by: Ed Fogle | January 23, 2012 4:28 PM    Report this comment

Increase the weight to 6000 lbs, and don' limit the horsepower, GA will soar again!

Posted by: Ron Brown | January 23, 2012 4:39 PM    Report this comment

Why not just eliminate the 3rd class altogether? If you want to fly your 707 in class A airspace at night for personal (i.e. non-business) reasons they why should you need bureaucratic medical blessing from Oklahoma?

I'll agree that flying for recreation, i.e. not relating to any business goals, is inherently safer than any kind of business use of aviation. Even flying to meet a customer for a scheduled meeting is tougher than the same flight to go play poker or golf.

This approach has a big advantage over the Day/VFR proposal (promised but not yet delivered) from the heads of EAA/AOPA. With those limits there is no way a non-bureaucratic-medical pilot can get an instrument or multi-engine rating. Those might be considered unnecessary for recreational flight, but having an upgrade or training path is a good thing for pilots - even experienced ones.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 23, 2012 5:06 PM    Report this comment

A couple of you have commented on LSA accident rates. Why don't you spend some time on the NTSB accident database site reviewing Non LSA accidents. Should keep you busy for a few months or so.

I understand you want to fly your legacy aircraft. I hope they change the rules for you to do just that. But please quit slamming LSA's to make your point. Many of use can afford the new LSA Aircraft. We like the technology, decent speed (many better than a 172), and we are in a physical shape that does not over gross the aircraft when loaded with full fuel and 50 lbs of baggage.

Thanks.

Posted by: Jay | January 23, 2012 8:10 PM    Report this comment

There seems to be some confusion over the NTSB interest in LSA. I suppose it may be true they don't issue separate reports on this relatively small fleet, but they certainly pay attention to accidents that occur. The NTSB investigates all airplane accidents that result in fatal injuries in the USA without regard to the type of airplane. They often do this in foreign countries as well.

My personal experience with the Zodiac XL (I built mine from kit) includes seeing the NTSB letter issued about a year before the FAA "Grounded" the whole fleet. The letter asked the FAA to ground all of these planes until improvements could be made. The FAA waited for another in-flight failure and another dead pilot before actually doing just that.

I spoke to someone from the NTSB and asked about that and related accident experiences. She said any time a single model aircraft experiences more than one structure failure it gets a great deal of NTSB attention. Obviously that includes LSA.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 23, 2012 9:23 PM    Report this comment

There seems to be some confusion over the NTSB interest in LSA. I suppose it may be true they don't issue separate reports on this relatively small fleet, but they certainly pay attention to accidents that occur. The NTSB investigates all airplane accidents that result in fatal injuries in the USA without regard to the type of airplane. They often do this in foreign countries as well.

My personal experience with the Zodiac XL (I built mine from kit) includes seeing the NTSB letter issued about a year before the FAA "Grounded" the whole fleet. The letter asked the FAA to ground all of these planes until improvements could be made. The FAA waited for another in-flight failure and another dead pilot before actually doing just that.

I spoke to someone from the NTSB and asked about that and related accident experiences. She said any time a single model aircraft experiences more than one structure failure it gets a great deal of NTSB attention. Obviously that includes LSA.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 23, 2012 9:23 PM    Report this comment

Interesting how each interest group thinks that their own solution is the answer to all the travails of LSA. We might not forget that other industries in the USA are suffering similar stress. (I live in a ski resort, you have to see the stress to believe it.) Perhaps if we were in good economic times LSA would be doing alright.

Actually I don’t believe it would be achieving nearly its potential.

1. Weight limits severely restrict the usefulness of the aircraft. Extra weight must be serveds with better structure though. 2. Pricing is out of the range that most would consider gives a return in usefulness. If they are to be more universal they must be significantly more affordable. 3. Medical requirements restrict a portion of the market. Problem is it is mostly existing older pilots who would take advantage, just eats existing certified markets and doesn’t really help. When the younger public understands it doesn’t have to go through the hassles we might make some progress. 4. Most aircraft don’t perform significantly better than older designs so new markets are restricted. Those designs that do perform better seem to be selling almost reasonably. 5. Better to manufacture outside the USA. High labour rates, liability problems make it cheaper and less risky to manufacture in Eastern Europe or Asia. I understand the cost of manufactured aircraft could come down considerably if the cost of insurance could.

Posted by: Chris Vernon-Jarvis | January 24, 2012 12:12 AM    Report this comment

To create a substantial new market a product has to have at least two and preferably three or more significant advantages. What is really missing is an entirely new method of building aircraft. For a while Fibreglass, and carbon looked like it but as yet they really haven’t cracked it. For instance the performance advantage, not unique, didn’t give RV the golden bowl. However added to match drilling, decent service and price sure did.

When someone invents cold chemical welding of aluminium or an ABS that works strength for weight or something else which reduces aircraft to about $40,000 we might see the promised explosion in GA.

Posted by: Chris Vernon-Jarvis | January 24, 2012 12:14 AM    Report this comment

FAA and Safety in the same sentence! How quaint. The FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety is a LAWYER not an aviator!!

Posted by: Gabe Bruno | January 24, 2012 12:29 AM    Report this comment

I have never heard the accident statistic inflection point argument about the LSA weight choice. I'm not saying it wasn't a reason, just that I never heard that in all the coverage we did on emerging LSA rules.

Nor would I say it's very credible, since this level of accident data on GA is sketchy at best, non-existent at worst. The party line was always that 1320 was a nice compromise to allow new airplane development and let a few legacy airframes under the tent flap.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 24, 2012 10:41 AM    Report this comment

Paul B.

I don't have any inside information on the weight for LSA question, but I agree with you that it seems unlikely that weight as a predictor of accidents is very hard to believe.

I think the LSA weight limit was mostly a copy of the European Ultralight weight but increased a little for unknown (to me) reasons.

I'm quite sure the biggest motivating factor in LSA specifications was to make an ideal recreational aircraft. This is a different approach from the Part 23 goal of making a good commercial airplane.

One interesting side issue is the question of suitability of these airplanes as trainers. The training application is clearly a commercial application. I don't think it was considered at all when the LSA specifications were set. That doesn't mean LSA are unsuitable as trainers. It just means they are not designed to be trainers unless a particular manufacturer adds that requirement to their design goals.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 24, 2012 11:06 AM    Report this comment

If there was a weight statistic, then why has it never been shown anywhere in the press? If it is there, show the chart AND the data used to create it. It is no accident that magically there was a fleet of European aircraft that met the LSA standard already available. The cannibalization of the marketplace by having so many aircraft competing for market share guarantees that no one can make any money.

It is another example of the government picking economic winners and losers with policy. The fact that the unintended consequences negated any of the expected benefit for the US based economy is par for the course.

Posted by: Ray Damijonaitis | January 24, 2012 12:19 PM    Report this comment

The

The FAA has always used weight as a proxy for complexity/safety. Look at the 12,500# weight limit. Different certification/pilot rules for airplanes up to 12,500 from those greater. What difference does that 1 lb. make in safety?

It was always easier to rule by weight than measure actual complexity metrics.

Posted by: Ed Fogle | January 24, 2012 12:32 PM    Report this comment

Quote One interesting side issue is the question of suitability of these airplanes as trainers. The training application is clearly a commercial application. I don't think it was considered at all when the LSA specifications were set. That doesn't mean LSA are unsuitable as trainers. It just means they are not designed to be trainers unless a particular manufacturer adds that requirement to their design goals. Unquote

I am not sure how so many people can ponder for so long and not come up with this aspect. How on earth did they think people would learn to fly LSAs?

Posted by: Chris Vernon-Jarvis | January 24, 2012 1:42 PM    Report this comment

Regarding training, you do not have to take training in an LSA to get a Sport Pilot License. You can learn to fly in a legacy aircraft and fly an LSA for the minimum hours (about five) then take your test in an LSA. In fact, you could get a Sport Pilot License and never fly an S-LSA - just fly legacy aircraft or an E-LSA.

Posted by: Richard Norris | January 24, 2012 1:55 PM    Report this comment

What Richard Norris said.

Also there are many thousands of E-AB airplanes that qualify as LSA. They could be used both for training and use by Sport Pilots after they earn their license.

Also, there are a number of LSA that are not airplanes. This includes powered parachutes, gyroplanes, and weight-shift aircraft (Trikes).

LSA is a much bigger class of aircraft than S-LSA which includes only factory built aircraft certified under the new LSA standards.

One more point - the government didn't set the S-LSA standards to pick winners and losers as one poster suggested. The standards were set by ASTM F37 committee. That is an international standards body composed of aircraft manufactures, end users, and other interested people. The FAA sends representatives to the meetings but they are always careful to NOT tell the committee what decisions to make.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 24, 2012 2:15 PM    Report this comment

Have you ever participated in an ASTM committee? I know people who have. ASTM is not like many of the of the other standards setting groups out there. They have an agenda, which includes making a market for the products of their members as well as making a profit for themselves.

Until someone comes up with some scientifically base data, the weight standard is arbitrary.

Posted by: Ray Damijonaitis | January 24, 2012 2:59 PM    Report this comment

Ray,

I've been a voting member of the ASTM F37 committee for a couple of years now. I think the process is interesting. I don't have experience with other standards bodies so I can't compare them. ASTM is all about consensus standards and they seem to have a good methodology for achieving that.

I have no problem with ASTM making profits. The same goes for the companies that use their standards.

I agree the weight standard for LSA is arbitrary. On the other hand there are some very nice airplanes built to that standard. They provide exciting performance on very small fuel consumption. They are not particularly practical as vehicles for cross country travel since the weight limit means you can have a passenger or a significant amount of baggage but not both. Perhaps it works better for young and skinny folks, but for us old fat guys the weight limit gets in the way.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 24, 2012 3:28 PM    Report this comment

As someone who makes a living making science based decisions, I deplore things that are arbitrary.

I don't deny there are some nice looking aircraft in the fleet, but all the ones I have seen could benefit from a bit more beef in the landing gear and the seats (energy absorbing structure). Furthermore some of the airfoils used should really not be used in a training aircraft. Trainers need stability. Not all the ASTM based aircraft are docile.

If the goal is to increase the pilot population, then it is folly to exclude a pool of existing aircraft them the light training pool. Lets do a little math. How much does an FBO have to charge a student for a lesson if they are using a 30K 150/152 vs 120K new aircraft? Now before you repeat the fact that training could be done in the cheaper plane, consider that a low time student would then have to transition to a plane that the Sport certificate is good for. Not a good thing for a low time pilot. Other than a misguided desire to sell somewhat less robust aircraft nothing is being achieved with the 1320lb aircraft other than driving up the cost of training, thus discouraging new pilot training.

I would even argue that including the 1600lb class of aircraft (or even 2500lb to include the highest production trainer ever) in the LSA category would increase demand for the modern ASTM category of planes. The attraction of features and style could lure those with new certificates into the new aircraft marketplace.

Posted by: Ray Damijonaitis | January 24, 2012 4:17 PM    Report this comment

>> Furthermore some of the airfoils used should really not be used in a training aircraft. Trainers need stability. Not all the ASTM based aircraft are docile. <<

I guess I can keep saying it 'till I'm blue in the face and still the message doesn't seem to stick. LSA are NOT TRAINERS.

LSA are intended to be fun to fly. They are not necessarily intended for beginners. Indeed some of them are, in my opinion, way beyond the skill level of a typical student pilot. I suppose they could learn to fly in one of these planes but it would probably take them a lot more flying time than if they learned in an actual trainer. It is possible to learn to fly in a V-tail Bonanza too but most people would be wiser to use a 150 or 172 for their initial training.

Just for reference, I currently fly a Zodiac XL which I built from standard kits. It has absolutely no stability in yaw and probably none in roll either. This would be a horrible choice for a primary trainer. However, it is fast, economical, and fun to fly. It is also an example of a maximum LSA in weight and speed, and has an unusually high useful load for such a plane.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 24, 2012 6:31 PM    Report this comment

I agree that not all LSAs are trainers, but flight schools are using some unsuitable LSAs for those purposes. So with all the easy to fly advertisements what is a prospective pilot to do? Is there a resource around? I know many grizzled veterans who can judge the prospective stability of a plane, but how about the newbies.

I bet if you contact the manufacturers, they would suggest their planes are suitable for primary training.

Do we need a recommended for primary training designation sticker?

Weight is not the only criteria that should be used to judge what kind of plane can be used for training. There are many heavier and cheaper aircraft that are better for training. It is a shame that they cannot be used due to a simple weight limit.

Posted by: Ray Damijonaitis | January 24, 2012 10:32 PM    Report this comment

For the record: the NTSB does track LSA accidents. Eighteen for Evektor, Ten for Tecnam, etc.

Weight is the standard metohod of categorizing aircraft. To help the discussion along, I summarize all the land airplane weight categories I can remember. Correct me where my memory is flawed. FAA Ultralight 115 kg empty EASA Microlight 300 kg MTOW EASA Ultralight 472.5 kg MTOW FAA LSA 600 kg MTOW EASA CS-VLA 750 kg KTOW FAA Primary 1227 kg FAA Standard 5681 kg

Posted by: Robert Hadow | January 25, 2012 6:32 AM    Report this comment

"I guess I can keep saying it 'till I'm blue in the face and still the message doesn't seem to stick. LSA are NOT TRAINERS."

As a class they are also not technically advanced, fast, or particularly "fun" in high elevations or turbulence. They are also not particularly safe. What they are is a fabricated loophole to try to spur low-end aircraft manufacturing.

My only hope is that the LSA population is used to leverage the sunset of the 3rd class medical for everyone else. THEN I can start my RV6A without the nagging medical every 2 years.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 25, 2012 7:41 AM    Report this comment

LSA was embraced by the FAA in order to kill ultralighting. It has pretty much done that. It was pushed by the alphabets to keep the can't-get-a-medical pilots in the air. It has offered that. 1320 is 600, so European manufacturers got on board. Everybody in the industry (except some bright people in the ultralight community) was happy when the rule was finalized.

Then somebody found out that many of the guys who have lost their medicals were able to afford a hundred grand for a modern airplane, so the idea of a cheap entry point was moot. Now those no-medical folks have their LSA, and nobody else wants to spend the money.

The next wave will be either a weight increase, so the rest of the folks who can't afford to fly will get a chance, or perhaps the waiver of the third class medical altogether.

In fact, the waiver of medicals for LSA could be hurting safety (if you think that medicals improve safety). So many pilots feat loss of medical (which would preclude them from flying as a Sport Pilot) that they've stopped getting checkups, and probably stopped "studying" for those checkups. They know that, as long as they don't take a medical, they won't flunk a medical.

Still, the "safety" argument is bunk, but we all know that; it's just a sweet sound bite for outsiders and regulators to hear.

Nothing's going to work for the industry, if flying isn't fun enough or practical enough. Costs and even "safety" are secondary to the market's desires.

Posted by: Tim Kern | January 25, 2012 8:03 AM    Report this comment

Actually, the ASTM standard (F2245-10C) does not define the maximum weight for a light sport aircraft. The 1320 lb limit is in the FAA regs.

Posted by: Owen Strawn | January 25, 2012 8:11 AM    Report this comment

Tim, to be clear on the Third-Class medical: If a private pilot failed the third class exam and lost their medical (not just let it expire) they are NOT allowed to get a Sport Pilot License and fly LSA - at least legally. If they did not renew their third-class medical, they can get a Sport Pilot License and fly LSA.

Posted by: Richard Norris | January 25, 2012 8:28 AM    Report this comment

Just throwing this out there for those who say LSA's are not trainers. I have given most of my training in a 1939 Taylorcraft that has over 8000 hours on it. A majority of those hours were racked up from 1939-1945 giving WWII pilots training. The bird is beautiful still too.

Posted by: Phillip Winfrey | January 25, 2012 8:36 AM    Report this comment

There are LSA and S-LSA.

LSA are any aircraft that meet the definition of Light-Sport aircraft in FAR 1.1. If an aircraft meets this definition it can be flown by Sport Pilots and others who wish to limit their privileges to those of Sport Pilots. These pilots can fly with state driver's license for medical qualification. Some of the possible airworthiness certificates that can be issued for these Light-Sport aircraft include: Standard (e.g. Piper Cubs, Luscombes, Aircoupes, Champs); S-LSA; E-AB; and E-LSA.

S-LSA is a type of airworthiness certificate for factory complete - ready to fly - aircraft. These are the ones many people identify as LSA.

None of the new rules change production or use of aircraft that are legal ultralights under part 103. The regs for E-LSA included 2 seat versions of legal ultralights used for training to allow them legal operation as licensed aircraft.

My previous comments about LSA and trainers is easy to misinterpret. What I meant is the ASTM standard to which S-LSA are built did not consider training as an application. That means some of them may be suitable for training and some others are most likely not suitable. Of course training can be done in nearly any airplane with 2 or more seats, but some are difficult enough to fly or fragile enough that use with primary students is ill advised.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 25, 2012 9:24 AM    Report this comment

There are LSA and S-LSA.

LSA are any aircraft that meet the definition of Light-Sport aircraft in FAR 1.1. If an aircraft meets this definition it can be flown by Sport Pilots and others who wish to limit their privileges to those of Sport Pilots. These pilots can fly with state driver's license for medical qualification. Some of the possible airworthiness certificates that can be issued for these Light-Sport aircraft include: Standard (e.g. Piper Cubs, Luscombes, Aircoupes, Champs); S-LSA; E-AB; and E-LSA.

S-LSA is a type of airworthiness certificate for factory complete - ready to fly - aircraft. These are the ones many people identify as LSA.

None of the new rules change production or use of aircraft that are legal ultralights under part 103. The regs for E-LSA included 2 seat versions of legal ultralights used for training to allow them legal operation as licensed aircraft.

My previous comments about LSA and trainers is easy to misinterpret. What I meant is the ASTM standard to which S-LSA are built did not consider training as an application. That means some of them may be suitable for training and some others are most likely not suitable. Of course training can be done in nearly any airplane with 2 or more seats, but some are difficult enough to fly or fragile enough that use with primary students is ill advised.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 25, 2012 9:25 AM    Report this comment

Nancy and I have owned a CTLS iunce 2008 and we frequently fly from home in Pensacola to San Diego, and points west and east. We had a Cherokee 140 for 15 years, we would not go back. An extra 50 to 100 pound for baggage would be nice, but as is, but not necessary. The performance, hiAlt R/WYs in summer is great and as we are in our 70s, we seem to be able do fly to where we want in an A/C that is a "turn key" operation. Sebring shows that LSA market is still feeling it way around, but lots of really good ideas abound. Bottom line for us is that the LSA rules are fine, get rid of 3rd class medicals and things will take off. Viva LSA!

Posted by: Kenneth Nolde | January 25, 2012 9:29 AM    Report this comment

Wouldn't a weight increase only for safety equipment like a BRS chute or airbag seatbelts be a good compromise?

Posted by: Jim Howard | January 25, 2012 10:49 AM    Report this comment

Its still not clear to me why an increase is even being considered, and after this I am confused on whether LSA was a good idea at all!

I can tell you that it was known by anyone with a brain that most of the planes would be built abroad.

Also, anyone who has ever tried to build a customer base or community knows that nothing in LSA was going to really help increase GA. Among people with more than enough money, GA isn't all that popular so cost isn't the biggest problem.

How many pilots that you know spend more money and time on Harley's or RV's?

Posted by: Eric Warren | January 25, 2012 11:04 AM    Report this comment

That would be helpful. There are reports that owners taking delivery of the Piper Sport / SportCruiser were removing the BRS system to gain 35# of useful load.

Posted by: Ray Damijonaitis | January 25, 2012 11:04 AM    Report this comment

Ray, if anyone (owner or mechanic) removes anything from an S-LSA without the written approval of the Aircraft OEM the S-LSA is illegal to fly because it is not in compliance with the standards (original configuration). The same is true for adding anything to an S-LSA without the Aircraft OEM's written approval.

Posted by: Richard Norris | January 25, 2012 11:29 AM    Report this comment

I DIFFER WITH THOSE WHO SAY THERE IS NO LOGICAL REASON FOR A WT INCREASE. WASN'T LSA CREATED TO MAKE FLYING AFFORDABLE AGAIN? ARE YOU KIDDING? HOW MANY POEPLE CAN AFFORD A $100,000 DOLLAR AIRPLANE. I KNOW I CAN'T, AND NEITHER CAN MY FRIENDS. THERE IS A REASON 1320 WAS USED; IT IS CONVENIENTLY JUST BELOW THE WT OF THE 150S, MOST LUSCOMBS, AERONCAS, ERCOUPES, MANY SMALL PIPERS, ETC. WE KNOW THAT THOSE AIRPLANES ARE AFFORDABLE TO MANY MORE PEOPLE. THERE IS NO LOGICAL REASON ANOTHER 100-200 LBS WOULD HURT ANYTHING, OTHER THAN CUT INTO THE PROTECTED INDUSTRY OF THE LSA'S, WHO ARE STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE. THEY ARE STRUGGLING BECAUSE NOT MANY POEPLE CAN AFFORD THAT MUCH MONEY! DUH! THE REASON FOR LSA WT LIMITS AREN'T TO HELP MORE PEOPLE FLY; IT IS TO CREATE A NEW INDUSTRY, AND THOSE WHO CREATED THE RULES HAVE SHOWN US THEY ARE CLULESS HOW MUCH THE VAST MAJORITY OF AVIATORS ACTUALLY CAN AFFORD ON PERSONAL FLYING. IF THE ALPHABET GROUPS REALLY WANTED TO SEE MORE PILOTS BORN AND ACTIVE, THEY WOULD FIGHT AS HARD TO INCREASE THE WTS OF LSA AS THEY DID TO CREATE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. THAT WOULD GO A LONG WAY IN ALLOWING THOSE OF US WHO CAN ONLY AFFORD $25K AIRPLANES TO CONTINUE FLYING.

I THINK SELF-APPROVING MEDICALS WOULD GO FURTHER IN KEEPING PERSONAL FLYING ALIVE. LSA WOULD BE THERE FOR THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD NEW AIRPLANES AND FOR THE REST OF US THERE WOULD BE THE MORE AFFORDABLE LEGACY PLANES. A LOT MORE PEOPLE WOULD BE ABLE TO KEEP THEIR LOVE OF FLYING ALIVE . . . IMAGINE THAT!

Posted by: Gene Hershey | January 25, 2012 4:36 PM    Report this comment

My recollection of the article was that the BRS chutes were being removed by a distributor One would expect some sort of manufacturer approval if it was being done at that level.... not a choice I would make though even if legal.

Posted by: Ray Damijonaitis | January 25, 2012 6:12 PM    Report this comment

Hey, Gene...would you mind turning your caps key off? It's the forum equivalent of shouting and we hear you just fine in lower case.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 25, 2012 6:34 PM    Report this comment

AS I look at the various LSA aircraft, I am struck by the corners that were cut to make the weight restrictions: small brake cylinders, small diameter control cables, less than adequate seat structure etc. I think that the weight issue is totally artifical (to exclude legacy aircraft) and was put in place as a way to encourage new manufacuturers rather than be an incentive to enable more people to fly. In addition, any weight increase should allow for two 200 pound pilots, full fuel and adequate structure. The solution both from a safety and flying activity standpoint is to eliminate the third class medical under the conditions proposed by EAA/AOPA.

Posted by: Unknown | January 25, 2012 8:00 PM    Report this comment

The entire activity surrounding the concept LSA got off on the wrong foot from beginning. The basic idea was to make piloting available to an additional percentage of individuals. As cost was a major concern, new affordable airplanes should be part of solving this problem---however, as implemented by the manufactures still too expensive for the target category of pilots.A large number of very basic airplanes are already flying---with years of proven reliability and considerable less expensive than a new LSA—but excluded from the LSA rules because “somebody” came up with the idea to “define” an LSA as an airplane “below a certain weight”—motivating the manufactures of LSA planes to “skimp” on construction materials—making less margin of structural strength available. Apparently, a weight increase is being considered which will only “muddle up” the system even more. “Complexity”---retractable, turbocharged, high power etc. together with operating environment should define LCA—applied in such a way that the “old timers” like most single engines as for example 150/152/172 are all included. Within this framework I cannot see any circumstance where “weight” will be an important consideration—except the LSA designers may have to go back to the “drawing board”— improve on strength, cut costs or go out of business. “Medical” as related to LSA is another subject we have got all “muddled up”. Hence, let us just start all over again and stop fiddling with a broken system.

Posted by: Helge Skreppen | January 25, 2012 8:08 PM    Report this comment

"the weight issue is totally artifical (to exclude legacy aircraft) and was put in place as a way to encourage new manufacturers"

About two years ago a column in "Sport Aviation" by an official of EAA who was involved with ASTM in developing the LSA rules stated this same thing. The manufacturers didn't want the competition from legacy airplanes.

Posted by: Ed Fogle | January 25, 2012 8:21 PM    Report this comment

If the FAA cared about saving general aviation they would do away with the third class medical. But do I expect that from them?, No. The FAA isn't in touch with the real world. I doubt if they know what percent of pilots can afford $100,000 airplanes. If something divined happen and the third class medical went the way of the dodo bird I don't think it would hurt the S-LSA market as much as some think. There are some nice light sports out there for those with the money but not enough money for a new Piper or Cessna.

Posted by: Ray Wyant | January 25, 2012 8:56 PM    Report this comment

If the FAA cared about saving general aviation they would do away with the third class medical. But do I expect that from them?, No. The FAA isn't in touch with the real world. I doubt if they know what percent of pilots can afford $100,000 airplanes. If something divined happen and the third class medical went the way of the dodo bird I don't think it would hurt the S-LSA market as much as some think. There are some nice light sports out there for those with the money but not enough money for a new Piper or Cessna.

Posted by: Ray Wyant | January 25, 2012 8:56 PM    Report this comment

Sorry that posted twice. After hitting the submit key the screen said that it could not connect. So I hit the back key and hit the submit key again. Sorry.

Posted by: Ray Wyant | January 25, 2012 9:00 PM    Report this comment

Ray,

I agree with you about the impact eliminating the 3rd class medical certificate would have on S-LSA sales. Probably there would be some reduction at first but many of the excellent S-LSA designs would continue to sell pretty well.

I don't think this is only about the selling price being a small fraction of new TC'd airplanes. It is also about the "Fun" aspect of very light planes compared to standard ones. If you compare a maximum S-LSA (e.g. Tecnam P92, Piper Sport or whatever they are calling it now, CTLS) to a new Cessna 172 you get a new plane equipped exactly how you want it and probably the color paint you want. You also get a faster cruise speed on less than 6 gallons per hour of fuel burn and shorter runway requirements. You also get a cockpit that is perhaps 5 or 6 inches wider. The 172 gives you longer range and payload. It also gives you much higher maintenance costs since every part of it must be certified by the FAA. That usually doubles or triples the cost for parts. You are also stuck using certified avionics instead of the experimental market ones which tend to give more features for a lot less money.

If you want a TAA based on an S-LSA the avionics package will cost you something between $10 and $20 thousand dollars. Similar equipment in the certified plane will run more like $50 to $100 thousand dollars.

You might be shocked to learn a G-1000 avionics package for your certified plane costs as much as the whole S-LSA did.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 25, 2012 10:57 PM    Report this comment

Paul, the original concept of LSA was for a simple, basic aircraft a person could fly in for 'fun'. However, the reality is the prices have put them out of the range of 'common' folks. Further, if you check the sales records a significant portion of thes S-LSAs being sold are to private pilots who are downsizing to a simple aircraft (read this as one that does not require a Third Class medical) from a more complex GA-type aircraft. Most are being paid for from the sale of the GA-type aircraft. That said, I agree there are some pilots that do, in fact, prefer the new S-LSAs to the older GA-type aircraft.

Regarding TC'd airplanes, keep in mind several S-LSA manufacturers have decided to use TC parts (radios, avionics, engines, etc.). Even though they are installed in an S-LSA they still have to be maintained and serviced as a TC part - which in many cases requires all work be performed by an A&P mechanic (regardless of what the maintenance manual might say).

Posted by: Richard Norris | January 26, 2012 5:31 AM    Report this comment

Sorry, Paul. I didn't realize that. I thought it might make it easier to read. My bad.

Posted by: Gene Hershey | January 26, 2012 8:22 AM    Report this comment

Richard,

I'm sure you are correct.

My comment about certified parts for TC'd planes wasn't so much directed at the question of choice of mechanic as it was about replacement parts. TC'd planes always require certified parts. S-LSA only require parts approved by the aircraft manufacturer which are often much less expensive than certified parts.

I am not sure what happens to certified parts that go into S-LSA aircraft. I know the same parts placed into experimental aircraft automatically lose their certification.

It is reasonably common for S-LSA manufacturers to use certified engines. However, I have not seen any of these planes with certified avionics installed. This is particularly true for glass panel instruments where there is a large choice in the experimental market category. Particularly, Dynon glass is popular in both S-LSA and experimental planes.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 26, 2012 10:20 AM    Report this comment

The FAA is "loving us to death". They need to get out of the 3rd class medical business. I was seeded for "low risk, slow growing" prostate cancer. I could have flown that afternoon, but didn't. I tried to renew my 3rd class 5 months later well after my AME, family doctor, and urologist were all OK with me flying. The FAA has never examined me, probably never will, but required all sorts of paperwork so they could second guess 3 doctors who are experts in their fields. It took 2-1/2 months to get the renewal, and then they back dated it to my original application date causing me to lose 2-1/2 months of my medical. I have talked with pilots at OSH who have told me the same thing, and got relief by going to the FAA medical people at Airventure. So why can't they do it from OK City? I spend many enjoyable hours riding a motorcycle with my wife on the back. The bike and us combined are equal to the LSA weight limit, and the bike has more horsepower. I can carve canyon roads with my wife on the bike, but I have to have a special permit to fly. It doesn't make any sense to me.

Posted by: Dennis English | January 26, 2012 11:54 AM    Report this comment

Regarding the LSA weight limit: It seems the EAA and AOPA didn't get much relevent input from members before setting the 1320 lb limit on LSA. I don't know how the limit was set, but I had heard they were trying to foster an industry. OK, they fostered it. I have helped manage a large flying club for many years. We do not have an LSA, and it's because of the cost. It would cost a lot to buy, and the insurance rate is based mostly on hull value. The cost per hour would have to be proportionally higher. We believe there are many out there who would take up flying again or for the first time if it were not for the cost. So in answer to Paul's original question, my answer is that we could probably increase the pilot population by at least 25%, and increase flight time by more than that by bringing in some of the legacy airplanes. I also agree with others, that eliminating the 3rd class medical is a better way to go, but that was not the question. Finally, I though EAA and AOPA existed for the members, not for manufacturers or sales forces. Guess I was wrong.

Posted by: Dennis English | January 26, 2012 12:05 PM    Report this comment

Just got off the phone with my weekly call to the FAA about my medical certification. It has been almost 3 months since they received a letter from my doctor giving his OK for the special issue. They haven't looked at it yet. So if I ever get my medical back so I can fly LSA I hope they up the weight limit so I can fly my Grumman AA1-C without the medical.

Posted by: Ray Wyant | January 26, 2012 12:26 PM    Report this comment

As long as we are sharing ideas not directly on topic, here's another medical certification idea: Allow any TWO pilots (who are otherwise qualified to fly a particular airplane equipped with dual controls) to fly said airplane as a crew of two, even though neither of them has a current medical. This idea has fallen on deaf ears before, but I fail to see why. The chances of simultaneous medical incapacitation of two pilots seems so astronomically unlikely that FAA should have no problem with this idea. But no, safety pilots must still have medicals. Utter BS. It's about power, control, domination, and politics, and not safety.

Posted by: Bruce Liddel | January 26, 2012 1:26 PM    Report this comment

Bruce,

I understand why your 2 pilot idea fell on deaf ears. I don't think a committee would do well as PIC.

The SP/LSA experiment has shown there is no value in the 3rd class medical from a safety perspective. Nobody knows how many pilots have legally flown under this new set of rules. What we do know is there weren't any cases of an accident caused by medical condition of the pilots. Somehow, nobody seems very surprised by this fact. There never was any proof of value in the FAA medical certificates except for the bureaucrats who feed their faces and their families at the government trough because of this requirement.

The last few times I've been at big shows (Oshkosh, Sun n Fun, etc) I've made a point of asking the FAA Standards guys if there was any safety value in the medical certificates. The strongest answer I ever got was MAYBE there is some value that MIGHT be lost if the certificates were eliminated. There was no distinction between 3rd 2nd or 1st class medicals, but I personally would not like to fight the battle yet over commercial pilot certifications. The politics for eliminating the 3rd class are a lot easier to justify since it is the quality of pilots that is the biggest risk for passengers in a plane piloted by a Private Pilot. The medical question just doesn't register in the statistics.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 26, 2012 1:45 PM    Report this comment

I think the FAA is absolutely right and the weight limit should remain at 1320 Lbs. You would obviously be twice as dead if you die in a crash of a 2,600 Lb plane than you would be if you die in a crash of a 1300 lb. plane. That's just soooo obvious. Everybody knows that, right? So let's keep the total weight limit at 1320 for all planes including the new Boeing Dreamlinger, the Airbus 380, Boeing 747s, C-5 Galaxys, etc. That way when we die in a crash we will only be a little bit dead, sorta like your girlfriend being a little bit pregnant. I think most people realize that a plane with too high a wing loading (overloaded) is more dangerous to fly. Let's do away with the total weight limit and use a max wing loading. Use of a total weight limit is an antiquated obsolete idea and a throwback to early 1900's when people didn't yet fully understand aeronautical engineering principles. Add extra wingspan (within limits of course) to lower a high wing loading into an acceptable range and you get a safer plane but if the weight goes over 1320 the FAA says it can't be an LSA. Did the FAA tell Boeing that it had to design the new Dreamliner to a maximum weight? No? Well, why not? What's good for LSA should be good for all designs. Boeing knows it has to design the plane's weight within an acceptable wing loading range. Do the people writing the LSA specs understand this? Max weight limit should be replaced by max wing loading limits.

Posted by: Don Thun | January 26, 2012 5:37 PM    Report this comment

As a non-commercial pilot, I don't care about which particular arbitrary weight class an aircraft falls into, I care about being able to fly it as long as I think I am able.

While slightly encouraged by the recent push by the alphabets to expand the "driver's license medical", I'm not holding my breath. That's a big change, and bureaucracies hate change. Moreover, that's not the immediate problem with the existing population of older certificated pilots who would be willing to downgrade to LSA.

I would be interested to see what effect a fairly minor editorial change to the Light Sport pilot licensing rules would have: remove the logically indefensible exclusion for failing an FAA medical.

Firstly, why reject someone for failing a test that is not required for LSA in the first place?

Secondly, what spam-for-brains did not foresee the unintended consequence of older licensed pilots continuing to fly without a medical at all, out of fear of its denial, and thus loss of LSA eligibility?

Thirdly, this would be a source of reliable statistics on which of the myriad disqualifying medical conditions might actually have a legitimate safety-of-flight association.

THEN we could ask why a guy flying a C150 needs not just a doctor's, but an AME's approval, when a guy in a 180hp speedboat with three aboard, does not.

Posted by: Chip Davis | January 26, 2012 5:42 PM    Report this comment

My local FBO rents a tired 150 for 78.00 per hour wet. Another one rents a 162 for 98.00 per hour wet. How many people have an extra 72 or 92 in their wallet to burn a hole in the sky for one hour? Most hanger doors stay closed all year hiding older, paid for legacy aircraft. They don't fly because the owners can't afford 6.00 or so per gallon for gas. Face it, flying is expensive. Always has been, always will be. You can all bitch about LSA's to the cows come home but my money is on the fact that even without the third class medical, most of you wouldn't fly more than 35 hours each year.

Posted by: Jay | January 26, 2012 7:26 PM    Report this comment

Chip, I agree with you that the bureaucrats won't want to eliminate the 3rd class medical in favor of driver's license medical qualification. To do so means giving up turf and for some government managers it would mean giving up subordinates.

Perhaps the way for us to get what we want is to get congress to include language for this obviously good idea in the FAA long term appropriation. Put differently, let congress overrule the bureaucrats and their self serving desire to regulate.

Jay, Of course most airplane owners don't fly over 35 hours per year anyway. According to the "Chief" mechanic at my small airfield it is very unusual for a private owner to get 50 hours per year in and very common for this number to be under 25 hours per year. I personally don't think this is so much about fuel costs (a small part of the cost of ownership) but rather a simple lack of need for the airplane. We like being airplane owners, but for real transportation the airlines are both less expensive and more convenient. I think we really need some bright people to come up with new recreational uses for airplanes to get these owners to crank their engines more often.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 26, 2012 9:10 PM    Report this comment

Jay, that might be true about the 35 hours. But in a free country it should be my right to fly 5 hours or a hundred hours each year. I wish we would have a federal drivers license and let the FAA control it. We would put Egypt to shame with the riots that would go on here.

Posted by: Ray Wyant | January 26, 2012 9:12 PM    Report this comment

Paul Mulwitz: “I understand why your 2 pilot idea fell on deaf ears. I don't think a committee would do well as PIC”.

Yours is a poorly considered strawman argument. I never said anything about a committee. We have safety pilots for pilots flying under the hood in VFR. There’s no “committee” there. There’s always a pilot flying and a pilot not flying. Both pilots would be required crewmembers under my proposal, but the PIC would be whoever is negotiated in advance, exactly the same as anytime two pilots (with medicals) go fly together in an aircraft for which only one pilot is required.

Posted by: Bruce Liddel | January 26, 2012 9:52 PM    Report this comment

The average pilot flies something less than 50 hours per year. That average includes professionals, students, and weekend pilots. If several tens of thousands of pilots return to flying after medical restrictions are eased (I believe the numbers would be that high), 35 hours each would be a welcome increase in personal flying.

Posted by: S. Lanchester | January 26, 2012 10:04 PM    Report this comment

Lately, whenever I submit a comment, I get this message:

"phpBB : Could not connect to the database"

But the comment is posted, anyway.

So, phpBB, phphpthbth, and #*%&@* to you, too, Mr. Database.

Sorry, couldn't resist. After all these decades, software error messages are still inscrutable/useless.

SL

Posted by: S. Lanchester | January 26, 2012 10:18 PM    Report this comment

Appreciate the feedback on my comment regarding 35 hours. Perhaps Paul could write an article on the minimum number of hours one needs to fly to be considered a safe or competent pilot. I believe the military has determined such a number. I put in over 100 each year flying just for fun and trips with my wife. 100 is my minimum and I work to make sure I get there. I'm only a VFR guy plus I work full time so it can be a challenge.

Thanks

Posted by: Jay | January 27, 2012 4:37 AM    Report this comment

Jay,

I'm not sure if you meant me or Paul B. regarding writing an article. I'll just write a short comment.

I do think currency is important for all pilots. So do the FARs. That said, I have been surprised over the years how easy it is to "Get in the groove" after some time off. In one case I personally took some dual in a new C-182 after 15 years on the ground and flew it just fine.

I think safety is more about attitude than currency. Any pilot who is somewhat wimpy should be OK. If a pilot flies for recreation it is reasonable to wait for severe clear weather. That makes safety a lot easier than any kind of scud running. I only fly VFR, but I suspect IFR requires a lot more currency to be safe. I was shocked to learn that fully half of the fatal accidents involving accidental flight into IMC and loss of control happen to instrument rated pilots.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 27, 2012 5:15 AM    Report this comment

Paul B

Another comment!

If the FAA would ever get of their butt and increase the A-LSA weight limit to encompass the Cessna 150/152, there would be a literal explosion in the increase to flight training for US Flight Schools and everyone else

I personally could buy a low time, clean Cessna 150 with a 300 hour Mattituck overhaul for $ 20,000 dollars!

Set up a club for LSA pilots and the cost would be affordable for a lot more pilots looking for their LSA Certificate.

Rich Wyeroski ATP/CFI/A&P/IA

Posted by: Richard Wyeroski | January 27, 2012 8:15 AM    Report this comment

Richard, I think you might be confusing LSA with the Sport Pilot License. Although related, they are seperate issues. You can fly an LSA (any type) with a Sport Pilot License to the level authorized by that license. You can also fly an LSA with a private pilot license to the level authorized by the license or the LSA manufacturer. I'm not quite sure what an LSA Certificate is?!

Further, think about this for a minute: If the FAA did away with the Third Class Medical for a private pilot to fly most (if not all) GA aircraft (or LSA), why would they want a Sport Pilot License?

Finally, in my area the cost of a rental aircraft for personal or school use is driven by the cost of 100LL. I've been told as much as half the price of a rental is for the 100LL. Think about the difference in cost if the 150s and 172s (most) were converted to use automotive fuel! As someone else has said, we need to find ways to make flight training more appealing to new (younger) pilots at a cost they can afford - regardless of whether they want to fly a S-LSA, heavy S-LSA, or GA aircraft.

Posted by: Richard Norris | January 27, 2012 8:28 AM    Report this comment

Second Paul Mulwitz' comment of Jan 27.

I am sick to death of people looking down on other fliers because they don't have the "right" equipment or because they don't have the "right" ratings or because they don't fly "enough to be safe."

I'm sick of people lecturing weekend pilots about how they are all unsafe and should stay on the ground because they don't fly at least 100/200/500/1000/2000 hours per year. Such people often also say that, if they flew less than their prescribed limit, they would consider themselves unsafe.

Heck, they know themselves - maybe they would be.

But I'm not - and I have plenty of flight instructors who have said as much.

Flying in severe clear day vfr in a fixed gear single with conventional handling, just isn't that hard. I am methodical, I take my time, and I have decent "hands." I know that the situation could get away from me very fast if I tried to do something complex, so I don't. I have enough spare mental capacity to handle one emergency; two might be overwhelming, but that's statistically irrelevant.

Hand flying an approach to minimums in turbulent freezing rain at night in a twin with 1980s avionics is asking to die, no matter how current you are.

Please, give us weekend pilots a break. Show us some love. We'd fly more if we could. We do what we can. And most of us do it quite safely.

Even if we don't fly as much as you do.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | January 27, 2012 8:37 AM    Report this comment

Richard (Jan 27)

Some flight schools report that Sport Pilot is popular even with people on their way to their Private, because with Sport Pilot they a) can say they have "got their pilot license" and b) can take passengers on local flights and proudly show off their new skills.

Since Sport Pilot requires a skillset comparable to the Private of 30 years ago (and, legal limits aside, usually takes 40 hours to get), it's effectively "your father's Private."

Meanwhile, the much higher training requiements for the Private mean it is taking people 60-80 hours to complete. That's an expensive, lengthy training process.

Sport Pilot makes a nice progress marker for someone on their way to Private.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | January 27, 2012 8:45 AM    Report this comment

Rich N.

I think there is a misunderstanding here.

All I am saying is the to earn a Sport Pilot Certificate a pilot applicant should fly in a LSA aircraft. Increasing the weight about 300 pounds would allow the use of the Cessna 150/152, in this case.

Cost is controlled by forming a club which every member is listed as the owner of the aircraft.

The costs come down considerably.

I would estimated that a solo rate would be $65 (Long Island NY) dollars an hour TACH TIME. Plus, the instructors dual rate.

Additional costs are covered in a club monthly charge.

Not for everyone but if it is advanced to a flight school setting where is a large savings to obtain the Sport Pilot Certificate.

Rich Wyeroski

Posted by: Richard Wyeroski | January 27, 2012 9:01 AM    Report this comment

Thomas, I can't imagine what I said that set you off on your rant. Perhaps you are confusing me with someone else. I never made any comment that a pilot needs lots of hours to be safe. Indeed I think it is the pilot's attitude that determines his safety more than anything else.

I don't think you have your facts straight on the issue of "Your Father's Private" either. When I got my Private Pilot certificate over 40 years ago I had to do a number of cross country flights, simulated instrument flight, and a bunch of other stuff that Sport Pilots are not required to do. It is true the regs didn't require I fly into controlled airports, but the AFB where my aero club lived was indeed controlled. The only significant change I am aware of that sounds like your impression of a Sport Pilot is the night flying. When I got my license it was not required to demonstrate night flight even though it was legal for Private Pilots to fly at night.

My Private Pilot check ride started by departing a live SAC base solo to fly across the Mohawk Valley in NY to a little airport where I met up with my examiner. After a discussion on flight planning on the ground we then flew for close to an hour. Most of the flight was performed under the hood including locating and tracking VOR navigation signals. I can't imagine someone today who sticks to the Sport Pilot required skills doing any of that.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 27, 2012 9:58 AM    Report this comment

The last thing GA needs is an explosion of pilots flying around in 150's. One of our better area schools got rid of theirs back in the nineties. The students that chose them either switched or quit. The competition with the bad schools for cheapest rental just wasn't worth it. The bad schools ran planes and operated in ways most pilots found despicable.

Certainly, there are nice specimens left, but trying to grow the community by putting prospects in 40 year old planes just doesn't strike me as the way to health. You will get marginal growth made up of pilots who will drop out as soon as the cost inevitably rises again.

There are known paths out of chicken and egg situations of needing volume to reduce cost. Retread strategies will only draw out the pain.

Posted by: Eric Warren | January 27, 2012 11:11 AM    Report this comment

Paul,

I intended to "second" your comment, i.e., agree with it!

The rant was triggered by Jay's comment about minimum safe annual flying hours, although he wasn't being strong on the point, but it reminded me of the common (and rather elitist) meme in the aviation press that anyone with less than X hours per year isn't safe and probably shouldn't be flying.

On my remark that "Sport is the new Private," of course I understand that there have always been aspects of the Private that Sport doesn't require. After all, technically you can do Sport in 20 hours, and Private has required 40 for as long as I can remember. In practice, however, Sport seems to take 40 and usually (in practice) there is airspace, XC and all the rest thrown into the training. All I meant was that, with Sport now taking 40 hours in practice - and the "old" Private taking about 45-50, Sport is more like the old Private than the "new" Private is, in practice.

Cheers!

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | January 27, 2012 12:18 PM    Report this comment

This discussion seems to have morphed into a venting of the frustrations that many pilots feel. In answer to the question posed by PB's article whether more weight is bette:

Yes - in order to accommodate safety enhancements whether in the form of a BRS, airbags, electronics etc.

Yes - in order to allow the manufacturers the ability to allow some more 'beef' in their structures in the name of longer aircraft life as well as a bit more survivability for the crew in case of mishap.

Yes in order to allow a larger pool of legacy a/c to participate in the LSA fleet to help spur lower cost instruction / flying.

Yes - to allow 2 x 225# people to fly with full fuel and adequate safety standards.

The other issues regarding medicals for recreational pilots and what planes they are allowed to fly are not directly associated with the question.

Posted by: Ray Damijonaitis | January 27, 2012 12:18 PM    Report this comment

PS When I did my Private there was no night flying, no navigation by radios, and no flying under the hood. :-)

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | January 27, 2012 12:20 PM    Report this comment

I am all for raising the weight limit of light sport. But one more time I'm left out in the cold because of the 57 knots stall speed of my AA1-C exceeds the limit of 45 knots.

Posted by: Ray Wyant | January 27, 2012 3:13 PM    Report this comment

1) ALL two seaters should qualify for Sport Plane so long as they meet existing limits: speeds, gear, prop. Weight should have no bearing since more weight makes a plane easier, not more difficult to fly. 2) Medical certificates should be required ONLY for commercial operations that would now require a Second Class Cert.. Third Class should be eliminated completely without restrictions; day or night, 3) 15 years from now these new LSAs for a hundred grand will be beat up, run down, old airplanes like the 150s of today and they too will then be less expensive to buy. Be patient, we'll get there. 4) The FAA had safety, and only safety in mind. They couldn't care less about us or the economy. Fat ultralights ain't comin' back. Deal with it. 5) ANYTHING, ANYTHING that promotes flying, or that adds airplanes or pilots to the sport helps ALL of us.

Posted by: Herb Kushner | January 27, 2012 3:14 PM    Report this comment

Herb,

I agree with your comments, but I think your formula for Sport Plane is just another version of what we already have. The current LSA definition limits planes to 2 seats, maximum level speed of 120 KIAS, fixed prop, fixed gear. (I ignored a few details.) The weight limit translates to a stall speed limit with a little imagination. If you increase the weight limit without increasing the stall speed you must increase the wing area. That will surely reduce the cruise speed.

I agree with you that heavier planes are easier to fly. If they also have higher wing loading that increases the runway length requirements for normal operations and emergency landings.

On the other hand if you put recreation oriented pilots in big heavy planes such as a Cessna 210 or 310 then the risk of serious damage and injury in a forced landing goes up - probably exponentially with weight.

Nicely equipped used S-LSA are already down in the $70,000 to $80,000 area. Give it another 10 years and I suspect the same planes will be down to the $40,000.

I'm all for eliminating the 3rd class altogether, but I still think the S-LSA and E-AB equivalents are probably the best choice for economical flying with reasonable safety profiles.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 27, 2012 4:38 PM    Report this comment

Paul, Well stated. Of course the 210 and 310 aren't 2 place. the 52mph stall allows small easy to fly planes like 150s, 152s, Cherokee 140s and a host of other 2 place planes that would be very suitable for Sport Pilots, without going "over the top" and including airplanes that might be beyond the skill level of the average Sport Pilot.

I'd like to see us stick to the existing parameters. My Citabria would be a great trainer for those wishing to learn to fly taildraggers or perhaps do some mild acro; both of which should be well within the learning curve of a Sport Pilot.

However, trust me! My 180 mph RV-4 is WAY too much airplane for a sport pilot, unless he/she has hundreds of hours in faster, more maneuverable airplanes; the type of experience that is unlikely to be gained without a PPL or higher.

They're both acro capable taildraggers, but they live in completely different worlds.

'Great thread, avweb!!

Posted by: Herb Kushner | January 27, 2012 6:51 PM    Report this comment

Hey Paul..... Was that Griffiss, where you learned to fly???

I learned at Teterboro, also a long time ago, when NYC had a TCA and had a checkride similar to yours.

I agree completely that sport pilots today would be very unprepared to do the type of flying we did.

Even the PPl requirements today have been eased.

Sorry to go off topic.

Posted by: Herb Kushner | January 27, 2012 6:57 PM    Report this comment

Yes, Herb. I got my private license flying with the GAFB aero club.

I don't know exactly what current PPL candidates learn, but I can certainly tell you some of the pilots I run into in EAA really need some more training.

I think the greatest advance I've seen over the years is development of low cost GPS. I used to get lost regularly in upstate NY using VOR. I always recovered in a reasonable amount of time, but if I went down as far off course as I might I would never have been found. We lost several F-106 pilots in the same area - possibly in the same way.

I don't think I could get lost using GPS. Of course, if my GPS fails I could be in trouble. Heck, I'd be in almost as much trouble as I was all the time in the "Good Old Days".

I eventually learned how to do night flying the right way - with a completely black cockpit. If you can't fly without seeing all those gauges and knobs you shouldn't be flying at night.

I'm probably better off with the current regulation situation. If the 3rd class is eliminated (something I have been fighting for over many years) I will feel obliged to trade in my nice LSA compliant Zodiac XL for a Bonanza or maybe even a 310. I'm not concerned with safety in that case, but the fuel bills will certainly go up along with the maintenance costs.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 27, 2012 7:10 PM    Report this comment

Herb, I think the RV4 is way too much plane for anyone, regardless of license type, without suitable training. I firmly believe day VFR piloting has nothing to do with the type of license one has and everything to do with proper training and experience. I would no wat get into such a fast beast without appropriate training.

Sport pilots may have hundreds of hours of time flying in all types of VFR weather. That's no different than someone with a ppl flying in the same conditions.

Posted by: Jay | January 27, 2012 7:16 PM    Report this comment

Yeah! Me too, Jay. Please don't throw me into that briar patch.

Actually, I've never run into a plane that went too fast or had too much power.

On the other hand, the first flight in a plane built by an amateur (me) was a bit scary. YOu not only get to fly a plane you are not checked out in - the plane has problems with its control systems too. Being a test pilot is quite an experience.

Overall, I agree with you. Proper training and transition training for new airplanes is a great idea. If you can't do that (like my Zodiac first flight) they you had better be an above average stick and rudder guy with experience in a lot of different type planes. Even in this case, though, it is the variety of experience and basic skill that counts a lot more than total hours flying time. If you build thousands of hours flying along with the autopilot doing the work (like transport pilots do) then the experience isn't all that valuable.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 27, 2012 7:29 PM    Report this comment

Paul, amen to that. There's a difference between having a thousand hours of experience and having one hour of experience a thousand times. Example, I've never understood spending flying time in the pattern. If you want to practice landing, pick a short route with three different strips and fly that route. At least you will encounter different variables.

Posted by: Jay | January 28, 2012 6:26 AM    Report this comment

At Sebring this year there were so many more choices in airplanes than you would ever dream about in certified aircraft. Raising the weight limit a hundred pounds os so is just a tease. It is my understanding the the cost of producing a Cessna 172 was not that much greater than a 152 and that is some of the reasons why 152's are no longer made. Imagine what would be available for general aviation if LSA rules were modified to include all 4 seat airplanes regardless of configuration, horsepower and weight. But we in general aviation are like Cubans. We live under an oppressive government, the FAA. Instead of keeping old cars running we keep old airplanes flying. If the FAA controlled the automobile industry Henry Ford would have never been able to bring the automobile to the masses. We have two timid organizations waiting for a new king to be installed before they act on a weak third class medical plan.

Posted by: Ray Wyant | January 29, 2012 2:05 AM    Report this comment

I don't think the FAA prevents a Ford-like process for aircraft production - demand does. Every time I have to order a unique part for my now-orphaned Saratoga I wish it had been built by Honda. As more than one pundit has stated, there needs to be a shake out in the LSA aircraft business as there is not enough demand to support all these players. In addition, if the larger companies could cooperate to standardize on as many common parts as possible the economies of scale might eventually come into play.

I know I'm painting a big target on my post here. I like variety as much as the next pilot. But if we want to make aircraft cheaper we have to make lots of them and make the parts interchangeable as much as possible. The aircraft can still be different where it counts: in load, seats, power, etc.

Posted by: neil cormia | January 29, 2012 11:01 AM    Report this comment

Because of all the FAA hoops that have to be jumped through the price of the product kills the demand.

Posted by: Ray Wyant | January 29, 2012 11:32 AM    Report this comment

Ray

With all due respect, I don't have to imagine what you suggest. It's called a Private Pilots License.

I see ultralight and light sport pilots at airports every day and frankly, while some are quite capable, most of them scare me. Are PPLs any better? Some yes. Some no; but at least the licensing process requires more knowledge and a higher skill level.

I wish I could agree with you all the way on this one, but I'm not willing to go quite that far.

Posted by: Herb Kushner | January 29, 2012 12:41 PM    Report this comment

Herb,

I'm not suggesting getting rid of the FAA. I would just like to see them back off with so many archaic rules. Give general aviation at least the freedom of the auto industry. I like at least the freedoms that LSA has.

Posted by: Ray Wyant | January 29, 2012 3:06 PM    Report this comment

on THAT I'm with ya all the way!!!

Posted by: Herb Kushner | January 29, 2012 3:43 PM    Report this comment

Amen.

I like the way of presenting the idea - General Aviation should have the same freedom to fly without interference from the FAA Aeromedical bureaucracy.

I still think the only way we will see this any time soon is to get congress to add elimination of the 3rd class medical to the FAA funding bill. I don't know how to get that done, but perhaps there are others on this blog who are well connected enough to get this idea moving in congress?

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 29, 2012 4:35 PM    Report this comment

A few years ago, I was driving past a small airport in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest. There was a Cessna 150 sitting there, paint baked off, three tires flat, birds living under the cowling. I stopped to take a closer look, and discovered that it was a plane that I had flown in 1974 in California.

That plane deserved better than that.

There are a lot of 150s in the same shape, because the cost to buy and maintain a 150 is close enough to that of a 172 that most people will go for the four-holer.

By boosting the weight limit, a lot of of planes like that 150 will suddenly be in demand again. They will be brought back to flying condition and put back in the air, because there will be a whole new class of pilots willing to pay the bills.

The current limit is arbitrary. Boosting it makes sense. It makes NO sense to have an Ercoupe with no radios meeting LSA standards, but to say that the same plane, made safer by adding generator, battery, radios and transponder is beyond the piloting capabilities of the Sport Pilot.

Posted by: Keith Wood | January 29, 2012 6:14 PM    Report this comment

Keith, The same could be said about bringing old pilots back into shape and getting them airborne again. That is exactly what the SP/LSA rule did for me.

But why stop at nudging the bureaucrats to allow for a little repainting and upgrade of old planes. Why not just get rid of the 3rd class medical altogether.

When the SP/LSA rule was put in place nobody knew if the driver's license medical qualification would work or kill off thousands of innocent passengers and babies playing in their back yards. Now we know. NOBODY was injured because of lack of this worthless piece of paper.

It is time to stop worrying about how much weight a pilot without bureaucratic medical blessing can handle and just fire the bureaucrats altogether - at least as far as private aviation is concerned. We can worry about extending this to commercial aviation on the next pass.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 29, 2012 7:01 PM    Report this comment

Keith and Paul

Both of you make some GREAT points (although I don't agree that the price of a 150 and a 172 are close... not if they are in the same condition, similarly equipped). But yeah, allowing those old 150s into the fray would see a lot of people restoring them and bringing them back to life. 'Same for some old Tomahawks and a bunch of Cherokee 140s, etc.

Keep in mind though, that we are talking about two different things; one is the weight limit, and the other is the elimination of the 3rd class medical. I agree that neither of these makes any sense and both should be tossed.

I still maintain that there is a gap between the skill and knowledge requirements of the Sport Pilot License and the Private Pilot. LSA remains a less expensive, quicker, slicker way to get a license, deserving of restrictions that I think should remain... eliminate the weight limit entirely and up the minimum stall speed (only slightly, no more than 3mph). That allows almost all of the easy to fly trainers into the game both with and without flaps. Anything hotter than that should be excluded. Then keep the rest of the performance limits (for safety). For Private Pilots? Throw away the antiquated, useless 3rd class medical and leave everything else (read privileges) the same.

Posted by: Herb Kushner | January 29, 2012 8:36 PM    Report this comment

Herb,

I vote for you for head of the FAA. Oh, that's right we don't get to vote do we? And that's why they don't pay any attention.

Posted by: Don Thun | January 30, 2012 9:31 AM    Report this comment

OK, the LSA spec was driven by economical consideration. Count the legacy fleet out, encourage new manufacturers. Sounds good in principle. HOWEVER, where are all these new manufacturers? EUROPE.

Here in America, there is an active cottage industry that does maintenance and modifications on legacy airplanes. The net result of the LSA regs is money going overseas. Surely not what the FAA intended.

WRT safety and suitability for training - what's needed is beefy landing gear that can take student abuse. Sorry, you can't build gear like that without some weight. For example, spring steel Whitman gear on the Cessnas. Big piece of solid steel, weighs a lot. But it can take a lot of punishment.

- Jerry Kaidor

Posted by: Jerome Kaidor | February 1, 2012 9:12 AM    Report this comment

Is it a mistake to conflate two issues of LSA weight and Private Pilot medical requirements? What are the parameters of LSA and what kinds of aircraft can be flown by private pilots without a medical could be handled as separate issues.

Perhaps the most straightforward way forward would be to allow moderate changes in the specifications for LSAs for he sake of durability and utility. Existing aircraft could proceed on their own merits and enterprising manufacturers could offer enhancements to try to gain market share. These aircraft would be be available for holders of the Sport Pilot rating as well as all Private Pilots.

The separate discussion of altering the 3rd class medical requirements would then be able to move forward on its own.

One thing this approach eliminates is the argument of whether a Sport Pilot has sufficient training to fly larger aircraft. A path to a Private Pilot rating would then be available for more complex aircraft without burdening the FAA with the extra costs of maintaining the pilot's medical histories for non-commercial flying.

Posted by: Ray Damijonaitis | February 1, 2012 9:47 AM    Report this comment

What an interesting discussion!

I agree with most of the comments regarding Sport Pilot training limitations vs. Private Pilot medical certificate requirements, but there are a couple of technical issues that deserve airing.

1. There are really two different kinds of LSA based on performance alone. This is recognized in the endorsement requirements for actual Sport Pilots with a special endorsement for planes with cruise speed over 87 KIAS. It separates the nice, easy to fly, old planes like cubs and champs from the slick fast European ones like Flight Design, Tecnam, and Remos. The European speedsters are harder to fly than the heavier "Trainers" used in the USA such as C-150, C-152, C-172 and PA-28. If you could twist the rules around to let Sport Pilots fly those trainers along with the slower LSA that would be OK with me. On the other hand I would not want to put a Sport Pilot in an AA-1 or Globe Swift.

2. I don't like the idea of increasing the weight of LSA. Particularly when considering the slick and fast ones, an addition in weight would certainly mean a reduction in performance and increase in fuel burn requirements. While it might be true that extra weight in the landing gear could improve a plane's worth as a primary trainer when it comes to actual recreation planes less weight is better rather than more.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | February 1, 2012 11:35 AM    Report this comment

Paul,

That's why absolute weight is a bad criteria to use. The limits should be set for a range of wing loading in lbs/sq ft. That is a better criteria. Although it has to be taken into consideration they don't design airplanes to a criteria of a max weight , they design to a wing loading range. Try taking your 1320 lb airplane and cutting off 1/2 of its wingspan (doubling the wing loading) and see how well the airplane flys. If you get it off the ground it will be one hairy airplane to fly and one that a low time pilot probably won't be able to handle.

Posted by: Don Thun | February 1, 2012 4:31 PM    Report this comment

The point of view of a 30 something 6'1" 220lb athletic person. I would love to fly LSA but my physical size is a limiting factor even if I drop down weight to suggested 180lbs. I've always liked the kitfox and it can be built with a 1550lb gross basically by changing out the landing gear. Why is 1550lbs any more dangerous than the 1320 if it can still meet the stall requirements? They had even started certifying it before the LSA rules came into effect. Given the ~750-800lbs empty with fuel you don't have much payload left.

The folding wings also reduce TCO, I wish more LSA's had that feature, but then again weight.

I think the weight limit of LSA needs to be increased, and if you think about it a short negative effect in sales would help weed out the weaker companies allowing the strong ones to emerge with new designs.

The secondary issue of the medical. I don't understand why the FAA doesn't just ask non-commercial pilots to self certify as they do daily. I believe there should be a rule that requires you to do a physical with your personal doctor, and discuss the likely hood of you dropping dead or being incapacitated anytime soon. Then if you believe you are fit to fly you are good to go if your doctor doesn't see any glaring issues.

Posted by: Joseph Chambers | February 7, 2012 3:43 PM    Report this comment

1) Remark: We are waiting for clear rhules here in Europe in Order to get legally with LSA up to 600 kg. Actually we have two possibility: - get a N-registration and fly the plan under US-Rhules as LSA (or VLA) - try to catch a permit to fly and handel the troubles with it / or eventually finish it ourself under chapter II as Experimental aircraft under national rhules.

2) Remark I will refer to that: > My local FBO rents a tired 150 for 78.00 per hour wet. Another one rents a 162 for 98.00 per hour wet. How many people have an extra 72 or 92 in their wallet to burn a hole in the sky for one hour? Most hanger doors stay closed all year hiding older, paid for legacy aircraft. They don't fly because the owners can't afford 6.00 or so per gallon for gas. > I am living and flying (PPL VFR) in Europe. What you mentioned as high priced is for us like a yoke. Here the wet hour-pricing form LSGB : C152: 266 US$ (prices includes all taxes exept landing fees) C172: 353$ Piper T-Arrow IV (IFR) 466 1 Galon Avgas: 12.37 US$ (at Grenchen Airport LSZG) That's the reality here in Europe. I think once your good old Oncle Sam can't ever support petrol prices and you will see the real market price we are allready obligued to pay for I stopped to fly on complex aircrafts and enoy 2seaters with fixed gear/prop...

Posted by: Bruno Cosandey | April 26, 2012 11:43 AM    Report this comment

It is really not fair to even compare Europe with the US.

EASA destroyed general aviation years ago with user fees and only the "RICH" can own light aircraft in EUROPE.

Granted the price of fuel is effecting G/A in the US, however to use an example that will put your comment in perspective.......NEW YORK State one of 50 US States,has more light aircraft operating in it by our pilots then all of EUROPE!

So lets expose the real reason EUROPE in dead for General Aviation....EASA wants it that way and that is the way it is!

Thank You

Rich Wyeroski

Posted by: Richard Wyeroski | April 26, 2012 2:25 PM    Report this comment

I have been putting people in the air for forty years and it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. A lot of those people now would like to go to light sport flying. They are pilots proficient in C-150s,C-140s,C120s,Eircoupes,and other two place aircraft witch our FAA fails to recognize. This has no basis to logical thinking or principal. My question to the FAA is why punish these people and jeopardize your job security for the future. I will continue this quest for a reasonable solution alone if necessary . Right is right and that's just the way it is. Thanks Don

Posted by: DON WELOTH | December 8, 2013 11:05 PM    Report this comment

Add your comments

Log In

You must be logged in to comment

Forgot password?

Register

Enter your information below to begin your FREE registration