AVmail: Aug. 6, 2007
My congratulations to Cessna on their amazing sales of the new 162 light-sport aircraft (LSA) (AVwebFlash, Jul. 22). Only Cessna with their long established reputation with American flight schools could generate any sales at all with this new and, in my opinion, highly questionable design.
I was waiting for some manufacturer to sell enough LSAs to local operators so I could actually rent one and go flying. Unfortunately, with its paltry 170-pound allowance per person, I would have to leave my wife at home. I also find the choice of free-castering nosewheel to be highly questionable.
I don't know who the hundreds of buyers of this untested design are hoping will rent them. Perhaps they will be installed in Asia where the average weight of potential customers is well below the size of the average American.
I guess I must continue to wait for market penetration of the lighter European LSA designs to local FBOs before I can rent a plane both my wife and I can fly in at the same time.
Cessna has missed a golden opportunity to re-vitalize general aviation, not only in the U.S. but throughout the world. With a starting price of $109,000, the aircraft has missed the whole point of the LSA category.
The effects of this massive and somewhat arrogant initial pricing could seriously damage the whole market for this new category of aircraft and pilot. What do they think the current, lower-priced (but better specifications) competitors will do? It is almost certain they will add a few upgrades to their panels, a couple of extra stripes to their color schemes and a quick $20,000 to their pricing ... and why shouldn't they?
Cessna had a once-in-our-lifetime shot at putting thousands of dormant baby boomer pilots with lapsed medicals back in the air and creating a whole new segment of GA at the same time! It could have brought aircraft rental and training costs back down to sensible levels to enable this. Now, nothing will change!
I believe the magic figure to create a Ford Model T-type expansion would have been be sub-$75,000. We all know they have the ability to do it with single-engine aircraft building experience spanning decades, massive financial backing, and a distribution network that most industries can only dream about. Couple this with cheaper material costs and automated construction techniques, add further their buying power for out-sourced components and the expected "in-house" engine, why then $109,000?
There is no reason an aircraft of this low technology should cost 20% more than an imported and better aircraft in its own category, irrespective of Cessna's need to load up their insurance against irritant litigation.
The FAA Boss
The title of Marion Blakey's session at AirVenture ("Meet the Boss") says it all about what's wrong with the current FAA leadership (AVwebFlash, Jul. 26). Managers like Blakey never figured out that her customers are the boss. The best organizations in my experience have leaders that understand they work for the customer first and their people second. So-called leaders like Blakey are just overhead if you ask me.
In response to Mr. Stepleton's assertion of possible "ballot stuffing" (AVmail, Jul. 30), I suspect that the number of responses to your question of the week regarding Ms. Blakey was likely right on target. In my opinion she is no more than a shill for the Administration and its love for "big business and big money."
I've had a pretty good experience with the "new" FSS arrangements. There was one IFR flight-plan mixup but otherwise I'm pleased enough. Of course, these days I mostly use information from the Internet to check weather and DUATS to file.
I think most people missed this but in a recent issue of AOPA Pilot, Phil Boyer pointed out the sizable cost of FSS: $25 per contact. Had things not changed, it's likely we'd be paying for each contact with FSS right now and be headed down the slippery slope toward user fees.
I learned enough during my pilot training to interpret weather myself and to read the NWS forecasts. Now that every pilot has as much or more information than the briefers, there's no excuse not to self-brief. Let's use some of the savings to outfit more airports with AWOS and uplink those observations to the cockpit.
Great job. Thanks for the Oshkosh coverage and the blend of adverts and news.