AVmail: Aug. 13, 2007
Cessna 162 Skycatcher
In response to other "Letters to the Editor" regarding Cessna's new LSA (AVmail, Aug. 6), I must stand up in Cessna's defense.
Yes, $109,000 is prohibitively expensive for an individual to purchase. However, the real beauty of the Sport Pilot certificate is that you can now become a licensed pilot for about $3,000. Then you can go flying whenever you want for about $85 per hour. Say you go up for 1-1/2 hours every other weekend just for fun. That's 39 hours per year and it'll cost you $3,315. Not bad, considering you'd spend this kind of money on other leisure activities such as boating.
The last thing I ever thought I'd do on the first day of AirVenture 2007 was sign up to buy an LSA airplane. On Monday morning before leaving for the show, I received Cessna's announcement regarding the C162 and was enthused about their engine choice and the panel. When I saw it at the show, I was somewhat disappointed by the EW/useful load specs but still decided that Cessna's name recognition was enough to warrant taking a chance on it. I knew I wanted a high-wing LSA and the few other choices are too risky for me to bet on -- long term -- despite being decent designs.
I think Cessna could have done a lot better and I think the price was at least $20K too high. That said, if a person wants to buy an LSA airplane that will be supportable, long term, and saleable for a decent percentage of its cost, the Cessna is the only way to go. There aren't any other choices.
The segment of aging pilots who want to continue flying into retirement (like me), wants an LSA airplane that's easy to get into, easy to get parts for (long term) and -- when the time comes -- can be sold for a decent buck, doesn't have a choice. I believe the numbers of SkyCatchers sold pretty much told that story.
I was almost embarrassed for some of the other LSA vendors at the show. Very few people were looking at them.
I would have loved to have purchased a Legend Cub, but my insurance company is taking a dim view of conventional-gear airplanes. There, too, the Cessna name will hold costs down relatively for insurance.
Anyhow, I hope they can figure a way to build those airplanes faster than they said they would ... that's my only major heartburn with the C162 story.
Is there any reason why a younger person would want to fly the Cessna LSA instead of the Aveo Phantom?
The Aveo has a parachute system and built-in floatation system so the plane doesn't sink if the chute has to be opened over water. And what about the avionics? More Garmin menus on the Cessna, again. I thought LSA was supposed to be safe and fun?! The Aveo digital flight deck has an extremely easy-to-read, integrated solution. Multiple redundancies, but fully integrated for easier pilot workload.
AirVenture Ultralights -- Or Lack Thereof
Did anyone notice how sparse the exhibitors were at the ultralight end of the field at Oshkosh this year? While a great deal of noise was made about new $109,000 LSA that average people can't afford, nobody seemed to pay attention to the lower number of aircraft manufacturers at the lighter end of the scale.
Quad City Ultralights, H-Power (HKS) and Flightstar, among others, weren't there, or at least I couldn't find them in three days of looking around. These types of aircraft meet the Sport Pilot criteria and have the possibility of being affordable to a greater number of people, yet they weren't there, and nobody seems to be asking why.
One would hope that the EAA would encourage and support this type of proven aircraft, in order to grow the pilot population.
I've been to Oshkosh two times now, and both times I came away either excited by all the new "stuff" or depressed because I can't afford 90% of it. This year the balance leans towards "depressed."
I haven't renewed my EAA membership yet, and I won't until I get some hope of being able to afford something to fly. No wonder the pilot population is continually declining.