Piper Exits the LSA Market

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From out of the blue came this week's announcement that Piper will discontinue selling the PiperSport LSA, an airplane it conveniently nameplated from the Czech Aircraft Works Sport Cruiser. If the timing of this is a little surprising, the decision itself isn't, at least to me. Piper announced the airplane at last year's Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring. According to Dan Johnson's sales tracking, Piper led LSA sales trends in 2010, with 43 airplanes registered. (That's not necessarily the same as 43 sold.) Not bad. So why drop it?

For the same reason that Teledyne is selling Continental Motors. It just doesn't fit with the company's vision of what it wants to be doing, the oft-quoted "core competency" cliché. Piper has been through two management shakeups in three years and its offshore investors are probably interested in that segment of the market where the profits are: Jets. Not for nothing did we see the PiperJet retooled into the Altaire and rolled out with great fanfare at the NBAA show in Atlanta. With limited capital in a down market, why fool around with low-margin LSAs when you really need to be certifying a jet? The little airplanes are just a distraction.

The traditional wisdom had it that in order to sustain sales of all of its models, an airplane company needed something for everyone—from a trainer all the way up to turboprops and jets. Get 'em in the door and a logical line of step-ups would engender brand loyalty. Cessna has followed this strategy successfully for more than 80 years and it continues it to this day, with a line running from the Skycatcher to the Citations. Given the continuing weakness in single-engine sales, does the formula still work? Good question. That's why were watching Cessna carefully.

We've also been watching the LSA market for the inevitable shakeout, but I doubt that Piper's decision represents the leading edge of it. I think it's just a minor reshuffling. I think the LSA market will remain curiously oversupplied, undersold and stalled, with little movement toward the lower prices some would-be buyers want, but which manufacturers simply aren't going to achieve.

Piper's press release contained a curious turn of phrase. The company said it had "a difference in business philosophies," evidently with its Czech Republic suppliers. I'm not sure if that refers to the aforementioned jet focus or with difficulties in doing business with Eastern European companies. Or both. When Piper announced the airplane last year, we immediately heard from American investors involved in the original development of the SportCruiser who noted that business deals in Eastern Europe are often not what they appear to be. That's another way of saying commercial standards and contracts aren't as black and white as they are in the west. I've heard this from others importing from the former Eastern Bloc. Anyone doing business there needs to be on their toes.

What this does to sales of the airplane is unknowable. The PiperSport/SportCruiser is just another LSA among many. It's nice enough, but not exceptional in any way. Piper's involvement seems to have ginned up sales. Its abandonment won't help, I'm sure.

Comments (75)

Low profit and high product liability. The only surprise is why Piper took so long to figure out that basic business equation associated with putting their company logo on an LSA.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 14, 2011 8:58 AM    Report this comment

Piper needs to think about what kind of company they want to be. They certainly can't live on jets alone, nor does the LSA fit their company. They're also not very good at supporting the legacy aircraft, which in today's world might be the most profitable of all. Selling parts and upgrades for the tens-of-thousands of Pipers already in service. Something like Twin Commander and Aerostar have done already.

Posted by: Glenn Juber | January 14, 2011 10:11 AM    Report this comment

I think it is important to note that this termination of the contract between Piper and Czech Sport Aircraft is based on differing business practices. Of course, working with the former Eatern Bloc wont be easy. Still the issue boils down to the quality of aircraft, which we have come to know about the SportCruiser/PiperSport. I thinking knowing that Piper supported the airframe in the first place is a huge notch in the SC and PS belt. Additionally, it is really about the aircraft and less about the supplier. I know that a name means a lot in any industry, including ours. Pepsi is sold more than Royal Crown Cola because of the Pepsi name, I am not discounting the departure of Piper. However, if the world famous Cessna 172 changed its name to Crazy Little Airplane, it wouldn't make a huge difference. People still know the aircraft and have high faith in it.

Having said this, I don't think the "PiperSport/SportCruiser is just another LSA among many." In fact, in the last 12 months it has received more press than any other LSA in the market...more than Remos, Flight Design, and most notably, the 162 Sky Catcher. The aircraft has little to nothing to do with Piper and all to do with quality, and I am hard pressed to find someone who doesn't think this little machine is the highest quality LSA on the market!

Posted by: Christopher Horton | January 14, 2011 11:04 AM    Report this comment

I never thought this was going to work. The Piper name on something not designed or made by Piper and most important, not sold at Piper dealers. What was the point? Just one of many European LSA's sold by small dealers. Mr. Horton, what objective evidence do you have that the "quality" is higher than all other LSA offerings on the market. If you are a dealer, please identify yourself as such.

Posted by: Jim Lo Bue | January 14, 2011 11:38 AM    Report this comment

I saw serial #12 production SkyCatcher in person last week. LSA's sacrifice structure to meet the weight limitations so I'm a bit skeptical about how well they will endure the long term poundings they will see at flight schools. First impression is that it will be an AD magnet for stress cracks.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 14, 2011 11:57 AM    Report this comment

I am hard pressed to find someone who doesn't think this little machine is the highest quality LSA on the market!<<

Look no further than me. First of all, getting a lot of press is just timing and publications with nothing better to do, plus aggressive PR by Piper. It was the only significantly new thing at Expo last January.

Build quality is so-so. Fit and finish on things like the wing lockers, the canopy latches and cowling were average, not exceptional. Piper wouldn't uncowl it to let us look at the engine detailing. Made me suspicious there's something there I'm no supposed to see. Overall, the Legend and CubCrafters products have better build quality, in my view.

Handling is so-so. The first time we flew the Sport Cruiser, it was neutrally stable: displace it in pitch, and it would stay there. Not good. The Piper version was positive, but still twitchy. With full flaps, no stall buffet to speak of. It just gives up.

Comfortable. Great visibility. Nice panel. Hot as blazes in the sun. I think it's on the better-than-average side of credible, but it wouldn't be my first choice. (Equipped price around $130,000 or so.)

Everyone sees these things a littler differently, I 'spose.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 14, 2011 12:29 PM    Report this comment

Each aircraft, as I am sure we can call agree has, some qualities we don't care for. Mr. Lo Bue, our focus on the PiperSport is as our primary trainer. Before we became a distributor, we purchased the aircraft to provide flight training it. A distributorship followed because we feel highly confident in the aircraft. I am glad that you pointed out that this aircraft is not made by Piper or even designed by Piper. I think their departure has little to do with that aircraft...a lot of people have forgotten that. Let me go back and say,"I believe that this little machine is the highest quality LSA on that market!" I say this because of the mission flexibility, marketability, design, comfort, avionics, equipment, etc. With 15 gal wing tanks, this aircraft can go six hours, and at a good speed of roughly 100 kts true. The leather seats are comfortable. That nice canopy provides excellent viewing. With the sun beating down on ya, pull the canopy shade. The Dynon network and autopilot are simple to operate and wonderfully reliable. At Max gross weight, we have seen 500 fpm. The wing lockers combined with the cabin stowage provide plenty of room for all your bags. This airplane sips a dash over five gallons an hour; put in twenty gallons rather than 30. My point is, despite our difference, it is hard to argue that the CSA product is a good machine. Perhaps I was a little overzealous. I still think it is in the top three LSAs in the market...number one for me!

Posted by: Christopher Horton | January 14, 2011 9:52 PM    Report this comment

Disclaimer - I have never flown a Piper Sport. That said, the limited amount of experience I do have in light sport aircraft has not been positive. The flight characteristics are not consistent, the cockpit configuration is not standard (hand vs toe brakes, etc), stall characteristics are interesting to say the least, etc. Additionally, the fit and finish leave something to be desired. The Light Sport category is an interesting one, producing aircraft somewhere in design maturity between homebuilts and certificated aircraft - but in my personal opinion not suited for the day to day pounding on a rental line like a 172 or PA28. Perhaps the FAA is closer to eliminating the third class medical than we realize, in such case I would expect to see a very quick return to more conventional training aircraft. I would expect lots of life in the Light Sport category in creating "heavy ultralight" type aircraft that really will drop the cost of flying significantly.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | January 15, 2011 11:59 AM    Report this comment

"type aircraft that really will drop the cost of flying significantly."

$130K, required annuals, certified parts is NOT what I would call a cheap way to fly. All you "save" over a normal certified 2 seater is the cost of a medical. What you loose is speed, durability, IFR, range, and load carrying. LSA loses in every parameter but the medical requirement...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 15, 2011 9:26 PM    Report this comment

>>type aircraft that really will drop the cost of flying significantly<< I agree that I just don't see the economics of the current crop of light sport aircraft. I looked at buying a used CT for 80k and renting it out - it was going to take better than 2000 hours of rental time just to pay for the aircraft - then I've got to put a new rotax in it - bad deal unless you're looking for a tax writeoff. For affordable flying, I'm not talking about the current LSA's, I'm talking about more like a two seat Quicksilver or Challenger for training, and mabye even flying (gasp) a single seater. That said, if all you care about is getting airborne in a two place machine for cheap, you just can't beat an old 150/152 (or tomahawk or anything similar) You get more capability than the light sport aircraft, a robust proven airframe, just about any a&p can work on the thing, and it flies on 6gph of autogas if you desire. Oh, and you only have to amortize out $15-20k as opposed to $120k for a new Skycatcher. You just have to have the stupid medical. If the medical goes away, I'll be interested to see just what type aircraft the big flight schools are buying.

Posted by: Josh Johnson | January 16, 2011 9:35 AM    Report this comment

I have flown the Sport Cruiser, August '09, before Piper got involved. I was extremely impressed with the build quality and the plane in general. I cannot compare it to other LSAs, but the quality compares quite favorably to standard planes. The Legend and CubCrafter may be great planes, but some of us prefer side-by-side seating and the look of low wing planes. I think most people will agree that the Sport Cruiser is one of the best looking planes in the LSA category. I am very disappointed to see the arrangement with Piper fail and curious to learn more about what really happened.

Posted by: Thomas Reilly | January 16, 2011 10:06 AM    Report this comment

I've never flown the SportCruiser, but several pilots whose opinions I trust report the plane's handling was/is a bit wonky, even for LSA. The frame has been involved in some... interesting... incidents and accidents, as well. Build quality seemed on-par with the best of other light aircraft, be they ASTM or Part 23. It's certainly among the better-looking aircraft in the category.

Regardless of the business "differences," I do question Piper's logic in ditching one of its most popular aircraft (if not the sales-leader) for 2010. Just because the PiperSport didn't bring in Matrix profits, doesn't mean it was a money-loser. If Piper couldn't get in the black on rebadging the SportCruiser, I tend to think the fault would lie in Vero Beach and not Kunovice...

Posted by: Rob Finfrock | January 16, 2011 4:35 PM    Report this comment

I'm afraid these posts reflect personal prejudice more than facts. The LSA fleet is composed of nearly a hundred different designs from nearly a hundred different manufacturers. Some of them are slow while others are fast. Some designs are focused on low purchase price while others are sleek, nicely outfitted planes similar to nice sports cars.

New LSA are a lot less expensive than new type certificated planes. A large part of this is due to the consensus standard used for LSA. It reduces development cost for new airplanes a great deal when compared to FAA certification requirements and costs. LSA also can be equipped with non-certified avionics that are newer in design and less expensive than certified equipment.

I think dropping the 3rd Class Medical requirement for Private Pilots will have an impact on LSA sales, but will not really change things all that much. I've been flying one of the new high end LSAs (Tecnam P92 Echo Super) for the last 2 years and find it much nicer than anything made by Cessna or Piper. It handles nicely and outperforms a C-172 in every way except payload, and does it on less than 5 gph. I don't know what the ideal choice for primary training might be, but for personal aviation the LSA offers wonderful choices. That is comparing new production planes to other new planes rather than the popular comparison seen in this blog of new LSA to 30 year old TC'd planes.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 17, 2011 3:00 AM    Report this comment

In reference to the comment on the Skycatcher. Cessna knows the training business and the stresses it puts on aircraft which is why they spent so much time testing the Skycatcher far beyond what was required. Making a strong plane with the weight limitation is certainly a challenge that Cessna has achieved, the interior is not fancy but it is practical allowing for extra strength in the wings, nose and landing gear. Also as for the AD comment, just so you know LSA's do not have AD's.

As with any decision on an airplane, they all have their pros and cons based on what the buyer wants, that is why there are many different models. Cessna's primary objective was to build a plane that would be used in flight training at a lower cost. Cessna also developed a 141 program using the LSA as the primary trainer. I had the privilege to fly a Skycatcher from Wichita to Florida, it was equipped with the basic Garmin 300, no autopilot. The plane was very impressive to fly, trimmed out well, cruise was averaging 118kts (no wheel pants)at 4.5 gallons per hour. I am 6'3" and found the plane comfortable. The Skycatcher handled very well and the continental 0-200 is a great engine.

Posted by: Matt Tutton | January 17, 2011 7:53 AM    Report this comment

Two private companies so we will never know but my guess is that Piper is not used to a three percent or so operating profit, especially when it then has to be divided in two. Some, by no means all, European ultralight manufacturers aim for the three percent operating profit and can live with it. Most of those are in Eastern Europe. That translates to $3,000 on a $100,000 plane. 43x $3,000 = 129,000. Divided by 2 = $64,500. Then there is tax to pay. For Piper's new owners $64,500 is probably not worth getting out of bed for.

Posted by: Brian McCulloch | January 17, 2011 8:07 AM    Report this comment

Clearly a market shakeout is needed. The market can not support 100+ manufacturers.

Performance of LSAs is far better than many give them credit. They have bigger cockpits, higher cruise speeds and better range than comparable certified aircraft. Payload will always be the driving factor for a light airplane. Potential new pilots want to join aviation using modern avionics and airframe, so glass cockpits are well-received.

The continued comparison of new LSAs to 40 year old airplanes is not a productive exercise, unless you can find new C152s or 40 year old LSAs. The holy grail for LSAs will be the economies of scale brought about by serious production quantities. This isn't likely in the present economic environment.

Having said that, I do believe we can all improve the chances of increased sales and the business case for higher production numbers if we petition our politicians to change the current accelerated depreciation rule to lower the minimum cost of new aircraft purchase from $250k to $75k. This will allow the entry-level end of the market to benefit and help grow aviation by putting more LSAs into flight schools. If you agree, contact your Senators & Representatives.

Posted by: Tim Busch | January 17, 2011 9:36 AM    Report this comment

Matt, average 4.5gpg at 118kts? It's not that I don't believe you it's just that the C-162 POH states only 90kts at that burn rate. As far as AD's, mandatory SB's cost the same so I'm not sure if phraseology dulls the financial hit. The metal in the new C162 is sourced in China so yes, I do wonder about stress cracks on newly manufactured Chinese metal products.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 17, 2011 9:50 AM    Report this comment

Mark,

One difference between ADs and LSA service bulletins is the time factor and cost involved. ADs require an incredible amount of bureaucratic activity and years to go through NPRM and related processes. Because of the inherent delays you also get things like SAIBs. LSA merely require a letter from the manufacturer detailing what must be done and how it must be done. Also, ADs always require use of FAA certified parts by licensed mechanics and inspectors while all of those choices are optional for manufacturers of LSA.

Yes, there are costs in either one, but the administrative costs attached to an AD far outweigh the simple process costs of a similar change for LSA.

When comparing TC'd planes to LSA it will always cost a lot more to buy and operate TC'd planes. You get something for this price. That is the ability to operate commercial flights and IFR. If you want to start a charter company there is no substitute for TC'd aircraft. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy flying in nice weather LSA make a strong showing.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 17, 2011 11:44 AM    Report this comment

For those of you comparing a 50+ year old design to a new LSA, I have a question for you. Do all of you drive 50+ year old cars?

I specifically looked for a flight school using modern aircraft to do my flight training, not one still using the same aircraft my father trained in during the 1950's.

My wife and I wound up buying a newer design after a year of renting 172's and have never regretted our choice. Newer aircraft have better avionics, better panel layout, greater visibility and lower fuel burn. We typically cruise at 135 Kts TAS on 5 gallons per hour. Try doing that in a legacy design.

I flew a Flight Designs CT 5 years ago at Sun'n'Fun and thought it was far superior to many of the legacy aircraft I have flown. If we are trying to lure a much younger generation into becoming pilots we have to show them glass panels and modern safety features instead of old, clapped out trainers with barely working steam gauges.

At Oshkosh several years back, I was talking to a friend of mine standing next to a Diamond TwinStar. An older gentleman and his grandson were looking back and forth between the TwinStar and brand new Seneca V when the youngster asked his grandfather if the Seneca was an antique aircraft! If kids around 8 years old can tell the difference what about a 20 year old who wants to fly?

Posted by: Ric Lee | January 17, 2011 12:05 PM    Report this comment

"If we are trying to lure a much younger generation into becoming pilots we have to show them glass panels and modern safety features"

Aviation has it's own lure. A Piper Cub, Ercoupe, or P-51 don't need glass panels to be exciting and fun to fly. It's the sounds, smells, and accomplishment that get's pilots hooked, not FS-X glass panels.

And yes, I do drive 40+ year old cars instead of bland plastic ones full of LED's, nav displays, and airbags. And yes, when I park next to a brand new Hyundai Sonata, it's the classic car with the simple harness and steam gauges that the 20 year old crowd is interested in...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 17, 2011 1:40 PM    Report this comment

Many North American based companies find, much to their chagrin, that the same moral, ethical and contract standards in the USA do not apply in the rest of the world. When doing business in other parts of the world, the you have to be very careful. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Piper didn't get surprised.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | January 17, 2011 9:09 PM    Report this comment

Mark, here's my experience in aviation. I'm 29 now and I started flying at age 24. I never took a friend for a ride in the the 172s I trained in... I was too embarrassed by the old, ugly airplanes I flew. I was shocked they were so beat up when I first saw them. I started flying my friend's Mooney and I am HAPPY to give others rides in it. And YES, it does have a gorgeous panel and new interior. I don't know about everyone, but I did expect glass panels, modern styling, advanced safety features (like airbags or parachutes) when I started flying. Heck, I still hate having to explain why an airplane has 3 levers to control the engine, whereas modern cars and jets have only one "go" control. Aviation does need some BIG updates... if LSA brings that to some people, more power to them.

Jeff

Posted by: Jeffrey Smith | January 18, 2011 2:01 PM    Report this comment

Jeff, No one has ever stopped anyone from training in the new aircraft with all the upgrades. Even you had the opportunity to do so. What stopped you from training in a brand new Cirrus or even brand new C172 with G1000? What stopped you from buying your own brand new LSA after getting instruction? If you want a gorgeous plane BIG updates then buy one or rent one. No one is stopping you but you.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 18, 2011 3:08 PM    Report this comment

Mark, you know the answer to that question as well as Jeff, me and everyone else reading these posts do. If Jeff wishes to answer your query I am sure he will speak for himself. I will say for me the answer is cost. Price is the driving force that is ruining (ok, I really meant running) the aviation industry. The comparisons to 30-40-50 year old GA planes to brand new LSA is a ridiculous comparison. We only think of the two in similar light because those 30-40-50 year old airplanes are as close as anyone can get to price comparisons. New LSA and new GA aircraft don't even fall onto the same page when comparing price. So we are left to discuss their costs in relation to older equipment.

Then when non-pilots start looking at what it takes to fly and what they wish to own they are slapped in the face with all of these costs. These are the individuals who are looking at worn out airplanes that cost more than a Ferrari and wondering "why bother". Something needs to change in this industry in this regard or once you and I die off who is going to replace us in the sky?

As for Piper and the Sport Cruiser, I do believe there were some fundamental business methodologies that were irreconcilable for the two companies.

Posted by: Steve Ingraham | January 19, 2011 11:27 AM    Report this comment

The answer is MARKET (not the aviation industry, glass panels, interiors, 4.5gph, parachutes, sexy styling, or even cost). Reality is that the MARKET itself for new aircraft is incredibly small. There have never been that many people who are willing to pay the same for an airplane as they would for a house. Jeff would gladly pay for a $130K house, but a $130K airplane is insane? It's not the COST, it's the MARKET.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 19, 2011 12:51 PM    Report this comment

Mark,

I agree with your general comment but not with your conclusion. There is a real market for new LSA. All you need to do is look at the sales numbers. Something around 2,000 of these airplanes have sold in the last few years. This is especially notable since the type didn't exist until about 5 years ago.

I understand the number of people willing to pay upwards of $100,000 is limited. Flying has always been, and will always be, expensive. I don't think it will ever be within reach of normal middle income people unless they are willing to sacrifice all other expenditures. Still, there are sufficient folks with sufficient money to make LSA a real market success.

I am a little sad that the classic winners in the US light plane manufacturing arena are having difficulties with the new LSA standard. Piper tried outsourcing their product and apparently failed to make a satisfactory deal. Cessna decided to engineer their own LSA and has had great difficulties bringing their first model to market. It is now shipping, but we still need to watch the C-162 to see if it survives the real world or not.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 19, 2011 1:10 PM    Report this comment

Mark hits the nail on the head: MARKET. The market for a $130k LSA is limited. Where are the studies that show sales for a $75k LSA, a $50k LSA, or a $35k LSA? Where is that "Henry Ford-esque" effort to build an affordable LSA in quantities that will meet those price points? Let's go, entrepreneurs! Let's have the conversation that puts a plan together.

Posted by: Tim Busch | January 19, 2011 1:17 PM    Report this comment

Paul, Realize that with limited markets, selling 2,000 brand new LSA's actually can SATURATE that market rather quickly. Only so many buyers exist for new aircraft of certain types.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 19, 2011 1:43 PM    Report this comment

Mark,

Again I agree with your general notion. I do think the market for LSA will increase with improved economic conditions. Also, as time marches on more and more people will understand that LSA are real aircraft with practical value and not just toys like ultralights.

Even with the quick success of LSA, the market for any sort of aircraft for personal use reflects the desire of general public for flying. It just isn't something most younger people want to do. This may be an even more important limitation on the market than the price point of each aircraft type. Let's face it: Nearly all middle income people can afford to pay for a few hours of dual instruction in whatever planes are locally available. If they don't want to do this then it doesn't matter how much it costs or what the details of the available aircraft might be.

It is unfortunate that many people came to believe that this new aircraft type with a completely new method of specification (consensus standard) meant that everyone would be able to afford their own aircraft. I feel this will never be the case.

Part of the problem is the downright stupid ideas published by NASA regarding Personal Air Vehicles that don't require pilot skills and come with short runways every few blocks in every city. This is just pipe dreaming with especially potent contents in the pipes.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 19, 2011 2:02 PM    Report this comment

LSA are real aircraft (they are just Limited Slow Aircraft). That's a tiny market segment of an overall very small new aircraft market. Selling LSA's is also compounded by much smaller profit margins per aircraft. You have to sell a boatload of LSA's to make enough money to justify the investment and liability. I agree with Tim that an entrepreneur can risk it, Piper won't.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 19, 2011 2:24 PM    Report this comment

Your statements about MARKET being the driving factor is only partially true. What drives that MARKET? Take any business course and you will find yourself discussing many tangible things and perhaps some intangible things that may end up driving sales of any given product in any given MARKET. No matter what would be discussed about MARKET is that one of the most influential "tangible" things that does drive any MARKET is PRICE the consumer must pay for the marketed item. Just what do you suppose would happen to the market for these $130K LSA's if tomorrow the price was slashed to $30K? The market demand would exceed that 2000 units sold number in less than a week, perhaps less than a day. (continued in next post due to length restrictions)

Posted by: Steve Ingraham | January 19, 2011 2:38 PM    Report this comment

So, yes I will agree with you it is MARKET that drives sales but PRICE drives that MARKET! Supply and demand are dictated by the perceived value of any item. Right now my belief is that the perceived value of an LSA is not $130K in this market. It is far far south of that. If the price point for new LSA's were closer to the perceived MARKET value we would be seeing an awful lot more than 2000 units sold in 5 years.

Remember in the infant days of this brand new MARKET the industry pundits were touting these LSA's as just what the industry needed to bring new non-pilot buyers to the MARKET. They have clearly missed this goal with their current price points. LSA's are still considered expensive toys for the rich in those non-pilot minds. MARKET has not created that "perceived value" in their mind. PRICE did that!

Posted by: Steve Ingraham | January 19, 2011 2:38 PM    Report this comment

Perhaps the most significant part of the price of high end LSA (which are indeed not slow at all) is the horrible strength of the US Dollar against foreign currencies - particularly the Euro. When the Euro was created you could buy one for .85 Dollars. Now it costs around $1.32.

If only the value of the dollar were not destroyed by the government in its attempt to magically create jobs in the US we could buy the same European planes that cost $130,000 today for something closer to $70,000. They would still be exactly the same airplanes but the cost would plummet.

There are LSA available in the $70,000 range, but they don't have the sleek look and performance of the high end European ones. For that price you get a low end American made plane similar to a Piper Cub.

A new aircraft engine - either certified or not - costs at least $20,000. I don't think you can turn that into a whole airplane with avionics and paint/upholstery for $30,000. This is just an unreasonable price for a new airplane. You can barely buy a new car for this price and car volumes are in the millions per year rather than hundreds.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 19, 2011 5:50 PM    Report this comment

So far the conversations about price and cost assume sole ownership. If you put 3-4 partners in a new LSA, the acquisition and operating cost fall below the current average acquisition and operating cost for the average new outboard boat, motor and trailer. See http://theapa.com/st/fpage/can_i_afford.htm

Aircraft prices are what they are. Shared ownership is the gateway to a market that is, literally, a couple orders of magnitude larger. Partnerships, co-ops, equity clubs -- co-ownership in whatever form is the key to the larger market.

Posted by: David Kruger | January 20, 2011 4:20 AM    Report this comment

Well I did the numbers for a partnership and even with several member it is still >$100/hr for me to fly a new LSA. No thanks. I can just barely afford the $50/hr for a C-152 with my 4 other partners. Face it - if we're flying for recreation, then very few of us are willing to spend $100 for an hour buzzing around the pattern or the local countryside. I've got a mortgage, kids, healthcare costs, etc. Yes I am frugal - I do all those things you hear on TV shows about how to cut your budget, and have been doing them for years. My cars are paid for years ago. Paying more than $100/hr for a "hobby" is just a non-starter for nearly everyone of middle-class means with any kind of family obligations. Of course I could opt not to save for retirement and not have kids, but that doesn't sound like good options...

Posted by: Scott Thomason | January 20, 2011 7:22 AM    Report this comment

I'm getting a bit far off topic with this comment, but I just finished reading Flying's article on the Electric Skyhawk that Bye Energy is working on. All I can say is that this "new fangled electricity-thing" better be the answer aviation needs. Its not airframes that need to be optimized anymore - its powerplants. Seriously, its maybe not yet ready for prime time, but the article makes a good argument for electric planes serving the training market - its close to workable for those 1-2hr missions. And as the training market goes, surely follows the rest in time. We all know electric planes are coming, same as electric cars are coming, same as my next meal is coming. I just don't know what it will be or when it will get here, but I sure hope I don't starve (in more ways than one)! Hurry up e-power!

Posted by: Mick Anderson | January 20, 2011 7:25 AM    Report this comment

The SC cannot shake its shady history. Born from CZAW's Erwin's breakup with Zenith over QC issues after building those in Czechland, his plagiarized design was meant to carry the Jab 3300 - far simpler, stronger, lower maintenance engine than the Rotax 912. Surprise, surprise - he got blackballed by Jab early and stuck with the wet Rotax. US/UK importing was thick with exaggerations and unattainable delivery date promises. Marketing raced ahead of capacity or fact at CZAW and even dan JOhnson succumbed - touting the Parrot and Mermaid as being in production when they never were... beyond staged factory photoshoots Far more serious were Erwin's hiding/ignoring design and build defects even when his complicit importer secretly advised him of those. Finally investors had enough and CSA took over but neither they nor Piper could shake the stigma or stop the BS. Even AvWeb and Bertorelli now try to keep the SC image cleaner by striking this post minutes after its known facts appear. Future? A skeleton network, a sleek-looking airplane, but the American built comparable to superior Arion Lightning now has an SLSA version using the Jab and until SC has the same powerplant or IO-233 that's both a far better airplane and untainted company.

Posted by: Fritz Katz | January 20, 2011 7:49 AM    Report this comment

David Kruger, Thanks for illustrating the MARKET for new aircraft are the people, not COST. The cost of a new aircraft is within the ability of people to obtain one. There are just not that many people in the world who buy a new aircraft (even if partnering mitigates the costs).

Sorry to keep harping on people, but people (like Jeff and myself) will never be "in the market" for a new plane or even "in the market" to rent a brand new plane. You can complain all you want, but Piper sells to that tiniest segment of people, people who DO (and not just want the latest and greatest and newest) certified new aircraft.

I fly twice a week and an happy with my old plane. I'm not the MARKET for a new aircraft and very, very few are that type of person.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 20, 2011 7:52 AM    Report this comment

David Kruger, your comments are exactly on the mark.

Mark Fraser, I think you are missing our point. We want to grow the market for new aircraft by getting more people involved in aviation. I do not believe we can bring in new and younger pilots with old, legacy aircraft.

By offering an accelerated flight training program with brand new LSA designs, I believe we can attract and hold on to the younger generation. If we do not increase the number of pilots in the pool, general aviation is doomed to a slow and painful death.

Owning a new LSA in a partnership is a great way to bring in the next generation of pilots. I want to show them how exciting and fun it is to get into an airplane and fly yourself somewhere different on a weekend.

Posted by: Ric Lee | January 20, 2011 10:35 AM    Report this comment

At my airport the largest number of "new" LSA models are Vans RV-12s - 2 flying and 2 under construction. The one I helped with is owned by four people. At a guess I'd say the investment was about 75-80k. The downside - you have to build it. But it flies like a dream (like an RV) and does 115kts on 4.5 gph of auto gas.

My other observation is young folks aren't flying LSAs - old folks are. If the medical requirement for privates goes away the only real draw of the LSA for them is that its new and it's relatively cheap to operate and insure. Some will likely go back to faster aircraft. With used RVs on barnstormers going for 40-80k it would be a hard to justify an LSA for an older SEL pilot.

Finally, though some young pilots are motivated enough to go fly anything, our X-box generation has bred expectations of jet fighter performance and instant gratification. Getting even a sport pilot license is a long, expensive process and parents these days are barely willing to let their kids go fly. Even when it's free. So - new, advanced, and safe ARE big draws for the folks who are pulling out their checkbooks for the lessons.

Posted by: neil cormia | January 20, 2011 11:10 AM    Report this comment

Hey Paul! You mention 43 registed planes in a year not bad? If you consider just Northamerica and Europe with about 680 Mio. people - this is for me a very poor figure! I understand Piper.

Posted by: Oscar Reinhard | January 20, 2011 12:00 PM    Report this comment

Neil, at your airport, the experimental crowd and old pilots fly LSA. The obvious thing is that students ARE NOT pulling out their wallets for new planes(or new LSA's either) because it's not happening. Flight schools are not dumb and if they could attract/keep students with new planes they would.

My impression is that x-box kids with Top-Gun expectations will be disappointed anyway with the rules, procedures, and limitations of the certificate. That's my impression.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 20, 2011 12:06 PM    Report this comment

Mark,

Part of the lack of new planes at flight schools is a result of the delays shipping Cessna SkyCatchers. Cessna took hundreds (thousands?) of orders for these planes from FBOs and has yet to deliver. The FBOs held out for a design they trusted using an old style engine their mechanics knew already. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that old style engine adds about 100 pounds to the SkyCatcher so its useful load is not enough to really work.

As Cessna delivers more planes the FBOs will tend to offer more new LSA rentals and instruction. If the C-162 is a failure (as I suspect will happen) then those FBOs who really want new LSA for their lines (yes, there are a bunch of them) will migrate to some of the newer manufacturers using newer technology engines.

This all takes a lot of time. That is why I feel 2,000 sales in just 5 years is really an indication of incredible success rather than failure of any kind.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 20, 2011 12:33 PM    Report this comment

Ric Lee,

Exactly. Great for the FBO's as well. We have done the detailed models for an FBO customer on the managing of a multi-LSA equity club and the financials are excellent. Pilots get a great new airplane for dirt cheap and the FBO makes money every single day. Everbody wins. The problem we as industry are facing is eminently solveable--but,obviously, it will take thinking and doing things in new ways.

Posted by: David Kruger | January 20, 2011 1:39 PM    Report this comment

I Love LSA, I have a PPL and I love flying LSAs more than flying a conventional certified aircraft. I fly for fun and I almost never carry more than myself and a partner. I owned an Aeroprakt A-22 (Ukraine made LSA known as the Valor in the USA) which is a rugged high wing two seat aircraft with a 100 HP Rotax and a 1,000+ fpm climb rate. I used to live in British Columbia Canada and I flew this thing all over the Rockies. It had cabin heat and great visibility, I can fill the tanks, full luggage and someone beside me and go for hours. I did my own maintenance, it's my life on the line so you bet I made sure it was good to go. It ran on Mogas and because of it's rugged build and STOL capabilities I could land almost anywhere. It only cost me $70K brand new. It had a Dynon EFIS system and with GPS and a Transponder it took me anywhere I wanted to go. Loved it, would have one again over a 30 year old C-172 any day.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | January 20, 2011 2:30 PM    Report this comment

..I might add, the cockpit is wider than a C-172 and the visibility almost rivals a helicopter, the cool thing about LSA is that you can get great performance, STOL capabilities and a Glass Cockpit in a brand new aircraft for under $100K. With Cessna going the LSA route and not replacing the 152 with a certified aircraft, the world (ICAO) is going to have to re-draw their rule books to allow the LSA standards (or similar) otherwise, where will the next two seat certified trainer come from? Most of the World follows the FAA, but there is a very big world out there and flight training for the huge amount of Indian and Chinese Pilots is taking place world wide, in places like Canada, Australia, Europe, Asia etc, not just the USA. Mogas is far more available than 100LL outside the USA and LSA will become the new standard for basic flight training World Wide, in my humble opinion, especially considering the new MPL.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | January 20, 2011 2:42 PM    Report this comment

Actually, Mark, the Experimental crowd flies all sorts of stuff but are gradually selling off the faster craft and building or buying LSA compliant aircraft - based on health. Grouping experimental with LSA is not a safe assumption.

The students at our airport mostly fall into two groups: those that want low-cost flight training/rentals (172 and Archer) and those that plan to get their SEL and quickly transition to TAA craft like the Cirrus RS22 series. We have a Cirrus training/service center on the field that seems to get those students and they train in an SR20. I've heard we have a single LSA available for training on the field but I have yet to see it in action. There are also a number of commercial built LSAs that are now based here. I think the "NEW" factor combined with cost of operation is more important with pilots looking to buy. I'll do some informal market research next time I can catch one of these folks on the ground.

Posted by: neil cormia | January 20, 2011 8:35 PM    Report this comment

"are gradually selling off the faster craft and building or buying LSA compliant aircraft - based on health."

You nailed it. The LSA is a rules niche; a created market. We'll see if the LSA market implodes when/if the 3rd class medical is done away with. Given a choice, most people don't want LSA's. LSA's dodge the medical regs and other training/maintenance requirements.

If the FAA just RELAXED the rules on all simple 2 seat planes to the same extent then E-LSA would also drop out in favor of more of what people really want.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2011 7:41 AM    Report this comment

Mark,

It is clear that the FAA will not "Relax the rules on all simple 2 seat planes". There have been a number of attempts to include popular old models in the LSA definition - particularly the C-150 and C-152. This suggestion was rejected with force. My interpretation is the FAA is clearly not interested in promoting more use of the old planes but rather interested in promoting the new production LSAs. Put differently they are interested in the future rather than the past.

Eliminating the 3rd class medical is a different proposition. The basis for this change would be the low value of the 3rd class medical when it comes to improving flight safety. This would not enable Sport Pilots to fly more complex aircraft, but other pilots could do just that.

As I mentioned above, I don't think this would spell the end of popularity for LSA. They offer many nice features including the consensus standard rather than part 23 certification. That means they can use uncertified state-of-the-art avionics and other equipment, and they will have favorable prices compared to similar TC'd aircraft. Also, they will still be the only type of aircraft that can be flown by actual Sport Pilots.

I feel the LSA definition produced an ideal set of design limits for recreational flying by pilots with any skill set on real missions including long distance travel. It will stand on its own merits. These planes really are easy to fly, efficient, and useful.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 21, 2011 9:08 AM    Report this comment

"FAA is clearly ...interested in promoting the new production LSAs."

Exactly like I said, LSA's are intentionally being promoted through artificial regulations rather than the FAA promoting "general aviation". Thinking an LSA is different (safety wise) from a C150 is non-sense.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2011 9:29 AM    Report this comment

I agree Paul, you are right on. Mark, I fly both certified aircraft and LSA, and I find LSA just as safe. A new LSA with state of the art avionics, a three bladed composite prop, STOL capabilities, BRS safety system and a nearly 1,000 fpm climb rate superior in almost every way to a 30 year old 150/152. Not to mention that they are not cramped at all and are stressed to +4 -2 G, and with a 2,000 hr TBO on the 100HP Rotax 912ULS which runs on auto gas they are very convenient, practical and safe, so please explain why the statement "Given a choice, most people don't want LSA's". I have noticed a lot of new young pilots are more impressed with the EFIS systems and the BRS safety systems etc that LSA's offer as a stepping stone to a higher rating (like PPL, the Rec Permit is all about dead by now). It all depends on why you get into aviation. If it's a young kid going for his ATPL ticket then he would progress through the conventional route, if it is someone getting into flying for the fun of it, LSA's have a lot to offer. Put the X Box generation into a 30 year old C-150 with a conventional panel and then into a new CTLS with all the bells and whistles and see which aircraft he/she prefers. Also, if the folks are paying for the training, ask them which one they want their kid to train in, the one with the BRS or the one without.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | January 21, 2011 9:57 AM    Report this comment

Just a question, but does anyone have a comparison in sales and orders of new SEL non-high performance conventional aircraft vs new LSA? Would be interested to know those numbers.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | January 21, 2011 10:12 AM    Report this comment

NEW training planes would always be built. A NEW C150 would have everything you listed PLUS would be less likely to fly overloaded!

There is no safety advantage with a Rotatax. There is no safety advantage in cutting structural weight to meet a requirement. There is no safety advantage in composite props. There is no safety advantage by limiting fuel range.

The FAA should deal with SAFETY. As said, there is no innate safety advantage in an LSA and actually more of a possibility of "overload" accidents because of the imposed artificial weight limit to purposely exclude other designs.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2011 10:20 AM    Report this comment

But there is no New C150 Mark, and why do you say it would be less likely to fly overloaded? That seems and odd statement. Surely that is up to the pilot to follow the regs..and also the overloading would just decrease the G limits, for both aircraft. Where do you get the limited fuel range for LSA only? The same holds true of any aircarft when you need to offset fuel for cargo. Most LSA's because of the weight limitation, can be fitted with a BRS, is that not a safety enhancement? Is better climb not a safety enhancement, is a slower stall speed not a safety enhancement? Can you tell me how many LSA's have crashed due to overloading or stuctural failure? It is clear you are not a fan of LSA, but all these safety issues you claim they have need to be backed up by facts and stats. I had the opportunity to visit Boeing two years ago and was amazed at how the new CAD software programs let them save tons of weight off their new component designs without sacrificing strength, these programs were not available in the 1950s, so I don't buy the argument that just because something is light weight it is structuraly weak and unsafe, especially these days. Oh, regarding the C-162 being made in China, i find most things are made in China these days, from the XBox to the I-pod and I-phone, and they seem to work pretty well and the quality is as good if not better than most western built things these days.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | January 21, 2011 10:42 AM    Report this comment

"Surely that is up to the pilot to follow the regs..'

If the point is to turn out a 20hr "sport pilot" and have safe flying, then WHY make W&B so much more critically important?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2011 10:58 AM    Report this comment

Trevor, you ask a good question about sales of LSA vs. normal cert aircraft. GAMA publishes normal cert numbers quarterly (http://www.gama.aero/media-center/industry-facts-and-statistics), and Dan Johnson (www.byDanJohnson.com) has all the figures for LSAs, so putting them together should be fairly easy.

Posted by: Tim Busch | January 21, 2011 11:09 AM    Report this comment

"It is clear you are not a fan of LSA, but all these safety issues you claim they have need to be backed up by facts and stats."

I'm a fan of Aviation; that makes me a fan of LSA too. Frankly these LSA claims of safety by BRS, being just slightly slower, being just slightly lighter, or even glass gauges are being over sold. The facts and stats just don't support the claims of LSA increased safety over earlier trainers.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2011 2:48 PM    Report this comment

Mark,

What would you rather fly at a high density altitude airport: a 40 year old Cessna 150 or a new LSA? I'm based at 4,600' and it gets hot here. The 150's barely get airborne solo in those conditions!

Posted by: Ric Lee | January 21, 2011 5:27 PM    Report this comment

"What would you rather fly at a high density altitude airport: a 40 year old Cessna 150 or a new LSA?"

Personally? Given a Choice? In a heartbeat I'd buy a run-out 40 year old C150, do the 150HP engine swap, Panel update with Garmin 430 IFR, new paint, new glass, new rubber for $60K.

That would give me insane climb performance, IFR capability and flexibility, the ability to throttle back at altitude to 5.5gph and $40-50K left over for AvGas so I could actually do some flying.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2011 6:57 PM    Report this comment

Mark,

I think you are making up most of the stuff you are saying. Indeed you seem to be completely ignorant of LSA details.

Your comments about a 150 HP C-150 barely meet the same performance as top end LSA.

Perhaps you think all LSA are 85 hp Champs? This just ain't so.

Consider a plane with 130 hp Jabiru engine that weighs 1320 MTOW and compare it to your ancient 150 hp engined plane with a MTOW of 1650. Which one climbs better? My answer is the new plane with the new technology engine and similar power loading with lower wing loading. (Virtually all LSA have around 10 pounds/sq. ft. wing loading. This is needed to get the low stall speed.)

I really think you might change your mind about LSA if you tried collecting some actual facts about this wonderful new aircraft family.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 21, 2011 7:19 PM    Report this comment

"Your comments about a 150 HP C-150 barely meet the same performance as top end LSA"

Nothing is ignorant about getting top-end performance for 1/2 the price with the flexibility of IFR. Operationally I'd get much lower insurance premiums, huge parts availability, and STC's (Say if I wanted a taildragger mod for 10 more KTAS or tip tanks).

You asked which one I'd want. I'd want faster, cheaper, and more capable.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2011 8:36 PM    Report this comment

Mark,

Your notion of top end performance is just plain wrong. You would have higher wing loading, higher power loading and your plane still probably wouldn't cruise over 90 Knots. Either plane is IFR capable and night capable as well.

Besides higher performance in the LSA on less horsepower and less fuel burn you would get something like 4 inches wider cockpit than a 172 (I don't know how small a 150 cockpit is but I suspect it is even tighter than an old 172).

Yes, you would need all those available spare parts since you still have a 30 year old rotting airplane.

I agree you can choose to fly an old jalopy for less purchase price than a new sports car. That is always your choice. I just can't abide your suggestion that this gives you a better plane.

I just took a look at new Piper prices (before dropping the LSA). The bottom end (Archer?) has essentially the same performance as the LSA for three times the price. It does have 4 seats and 200 hp instead of 2 seats and 100 hp. I'm not sure, but I doubt you could actually put 4 people in one and get off the ground.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 21, 2011 8:46 PM    Report this comment

You sound like someone trying to sell a brand new $110,000 Toyota Corolla. Eco-boxes are a tough sell at $110,000.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2011 9:36 PM    Report this comment

Actually, I was describing my brand new airplane. It is sitting in my hangar and has the qualities I described. I don't know how fast it cruises because it hasn't flown yet. It is an LSA by definition but built from a kit. I am hoping its first flight will happen in the Spring.

My total cost for this brand new airplane was around $50,000. It outperforms your imagined 150 hp 150 in every way. Alas, I have spent some 5 years building it. That is a good thing from my point of view, but not everyone can or will make it through such a long project. We all need to have a hobby and building airplanes is mine.

I don't want to try any more to lead you to the light. If you are that anxious to hold on to your beliefs that the new LSA are inferior to 30 year clapped out planes I just won't be able to help you find the truth.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 21, 2011 9:47 PM    Report this comment

"better" and "inferior" and "will outperform yours" are word you DON'T use toward fellow owners rides. Building up a C-150 like you want it can be every bit as rewarding as building up an E-LSA. Good luck with the first flight.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 21, 2011 10:02 PM    Report this comment

Mark, you really seem to have a problem with LSA, you keep imagining this fantastic C-150 that you can build, but the fact remains, it is still a 30 year old airplane, with a cramped cabin and old parts, I don't see your point. It is like saying heh, I can buy a 1955 Chevy, strip the old heavy bodywork of rust, repiant it, hot up the engine, and turn it into a hot rod and it will be far better than these new fangled Japanese cars with all the EFI systems, ABS fancy high tech suspensions and airbags and their electronics and such. So far you have poo poo'd the safety aspects of a lower stall speed, high climb rate, BRS etc etc and said that Sport Pilots can't figure out the W & B and C of G aspects to stop them from overloading the aircraft because Proper Pilots won't do that in a certified aircraft. Buddy, good luck with your cramped old C-150 with the big engine and all the hot rod trimmings, let the rest of us enjoy new designs and new technology. Sport Pilots put their lives on the line when they get in the air just like the rest of us so I simply don't buy your argument that they will overload the airplane and don't understand what they are doing. Paul and Rick, lets stop waisting our breath on this. Some people like Harleys and some people like sport bikes..

Posted by: Trevor Evans | January 21, 2011 10:53 PM    Report this comment

Mark, you really seem to have a problem with LSA, you keep imagining this fantastic C-150 that you can build, but the fact remains, it is still a 30 year old airplane, with a cramped cabin and old parts, I don't see your point. It is like saying heh, I can buy a 1955 Chevy, strip the old heavy bodywork of rust, repiant it, hot up the engine, and turn it into a hot rod and it will be far better than these new fangled Japanese cars with all the EFI systems, ABS fancy high tech suspensions and airbags and their electronics and such. So far you have poo poo'd the safety aspects of a lower stall speed, high climb rate, BRS etc etc and said that Sport Pilots can't figure out the W & B and C of G aspects to stop them from overloading the aircraft because Proper Pilots won't do that in a certified aircraft. Buddy, good luck with your cramped old C-150 with the big engine and all the hot rod trimmings, let the rest of us enjoy new designs and new technology. Sport Pilots put their lives on the line when they get in the air just like the rest of us so I simply don't buy your argument that they will overload the airplane and don't understand what they are doing. Paul and Rick, lets stop waisting our breath on this. Some people like Harleys and some people like sport bikes..

Posted by: Trevor Evans | January 21, 2011 10:53 PM    Report this comment

Trevor, YOU asked the question. You said choose between Old Certified C-150 and an LSA (that means certified). The choice was obvious based on initial cost, relative performance, and flexibility of modifications as desired. The choice is so obvious that I believe that LSA rules were intentionally crafted to excluded the choice of a C150. As said, LSA is a crafted rules niche, not a "better" or "safer" airplane for the dollars spent.

EXPERIMENTAL is a completely different animal. It's a lot of hard work. Given the choice there between 5 years hard work to make an E-LSA or between 5 years hard work to have an RV-6, I would not choose an E-LSA. E-LSA is not flexible nor the most efficient nor the most modern experimental choice. Again, only the "rules niche" is making E-LSA happen, not what is ultimately something "better" from all that hard work.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 22, 2011 8:02 AM    Report this comment

Mark,

I understand your point of view. Some people would be happy with a legacy design as a 'fixer-upper' while the rest of us would rather go modern.

A friend of mine did a frame up restoration on a 1964 Corvette. Looking at this car you would think it just rolled off the assembly line. Driving it is a chore. It has a harsh ride, rough shifting transmission and so-so brakes compared to a new car. My friend likes the admiring looks he gets driving it but he much prefers driving his Volvo for a trip over 30 miles.

I feel the same way, give me a new LSA over a hopped up C150 any day. Better performance, better visibility, much more cabin space, better fuel economy, better safety features and ramp appeal.

I don't know about your airport but at mine a new LSA gets far more attention when it taxi's up than any C150 I've seen.

Posted by: Ric Lee | January 22, 2011 9:56 AM    Report this comment

Well, id "given" to me, I'd take an LSA as well! You bet! The problem comes if you have to pay for it (with money or sweat). Money-wise a new certified LSA is hard to justify against an older certified plane. It's a buyers market right now and there are a lot of truly fine aircraft available for $15-25K.

In the experimental field, E-LSA is actually introduces "limits" to innovation. My understanding is that E-LSA is very strict for any change to plans. So investing the same amount of sweat to produce an E-LSA instead of an RV-6 and then be limited on mods is almost backwards thinking (IMO).

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 22, 2011 10:16 AM    Report this comment

Mark,

LSA is a complicated world. The official definition of Light-Sport aircraft is in FAR 1.1.

Aircraft that meet both the LSA definition and ASTM standard can get LSA airworthiness certificates - either E-LSA or S-LSA. Both are factory built planes, but in the case of S-LSA the factory completes the plane and E-LSA requires completion by the first owner. The amount of work required to complete an E-LSA is decided by the manufacturer (not the FAA) and ranges from kit building (like the RV-12) to bolt together, nearly complete aircraft. There are very few of these designs on the market so far, but there may be more in the future.

My kit plane is not an LSA from the paperwork point of view. It will be certified Experimental Amateur-Built (E-AB) just as an RV-6 would. It must meet the requirements for E-AB certification (E-LSA might or might not meet the E-AB requirements). My plane is designed to meet the FAR 1.1 definition of LSA, but there is no requirement for it to do so. I am not required to match any other design as I would be if it were E-LSA. There are other very important differences. Perhaps the most important one is making any change to either an E-LSA or S-LSA requires permission from the manufacturer. For E-AB, the builder is the manufacturer and has full authority to change it any way he chooses.

Posted by: Paul Mulwitz | January 22, 2011 10:56 AM    Report this comment

I feel the same way, give me a new LSA over a hopped up C150 any day. Better performance, better visibility, much more cabin space, better fuel economy, better safety features and ramp appeal.<<

Have to agree. There's no long-term market potential in old, restored 150s, hopped up or not. Good for the cheapest of owners, maybe, and some flight schools. But you can't build an industry on these things. Cessna knows that. So does everyone else.

I've just completed a round of flight demos comparing my old Cub to newer versions such as the Legend and CubCrafters SportCub. Basically, there is no comparison. They're faster, they climb better, they're safer, they're more comfortable, more fun to fly. In short, they are flat out better airplanes.

You can argue about relative value and affordability. But they cost what they cost for a reason. If you look at the sub $60K LSAs out there, you'd be astonished at what you see.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | January 23, 2011 9:09 AM    Report this comment

I'm guessing folks are more concerned with things other than actual pilotage and flying? It's almost sad that people are saying Cubs are not comfortable enough or just not fast enough, not fun enough, too old and just "not worth it". Too bad. That extra 100fpm climb or 2" wider cabin or 5 knots or a magenta line on the panel are not piloting.

You can really learn "flying" in a old Cub or a stock engined Yankee; I'd say you will learn more about pilotage in THOSE 2 planes than you will in any "nicer" flying newly engineered plane. It's not about the absolute performance number; it's understanding how to pilot.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 23, 2011 9:29 PM    Report this comment

No, actually it is about enjoying the experience. It is clear that those who do not currently fly and wish to enjoy the experience of flying are interested in new airplanes not old ones. I also fly old airplanes (1966 172G tail wheel)and a brand new (RV9A) airplane that I built. Both are fun but I have absolutely no doubt whenever I ask a bystander who wishes to fly with me which one they would like to ride in. The 172 is a great airplane. It has functionality that the RV does not. However, it will never be the airplane the RV is. The fun factor hits overload with anyone who rides in it.

There will always be a group of car drivers who will prefer a '57 Chevy, 65 Mustang, 71 Corvette over a brand new 2010 Camaro but to say those older cars are "better" or even "more economical" to own is misleading at best and in reality a false statement. The same applies to the old airplanes being talked about here. The real issue is the attractiveness and economics of new vs old, not LSA vs GA.

Posted by: Steve Ingraham | January 24, 2011 9:11 AM    Report this comment

"older cars are "better" or even "more economical" to own is misleading at best"

I would say that new car adds of "better" and "economical" are equally as misleading. What is clear is that a 65 Mustang, 57 Chevy, and 71 Corvette is that they are APPRECIATED.

Claims of economy are should be based on total cost of ownership. Claims of safety should be based on NTSB reports. What's APPRECIATED? Only time will tell.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | January 24, 2011 10:48 AM    Report this comment

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