On The Ground At Sebring, Tim Kern, For AVweb
Click through For Tim's Sebring Image Gallery
The Light Aircraft Expo was originally scheduled for October, but Hurricane Wilma made an appearance, pushing the "2005" event to Jan. 12-15, 2006. It's a convenient show for buyers and sellers: At Sebring, you're right on the flight line, and virtually every design is available for a demonstration. Evektor, the first LSA-certified airplane, is also the first to be used for flight training. The first was delivered in June, and another in September. They're both logging well over 100 hours a month. That Continental O-200 is making inroads into previously all-Rotax territory, as well, with several offerings of conversions and appearances in new designs.
CostsThe low price point for a metal machine seems to be around $65,000 delivered and ready-to-fly, with 22 hours training (10% over the minimum requirement). That's the announced SportCruiser, from Sport Aircraft Works, which was flying its cantilever-wing Parrot. RANS machines, ready to fly, are in the mid-$70s. You can get into an amphibian for under $90,000. Variants of Chris Heintz designs are popular, with the (previously mentioned) Evektor leading the pack. Several CAR-3 and Part 23 machines are also available for the sport pilot certificate holder. The Legend Cub rings up at $84,000 - $87,000; the Taylorcraft Taylor Sport (ne้ F-19, with the 100-hp Continental) chimes in at $69,995, flying regularly and available. The Part 23-certified Sky Arrow 650 (and LSA-targeted 600), at the other end of the previously-certified sophistication scale, were hopping prospects all day, every day. Look at machines from FK Lightplanes USA, for something old and something new. The company's FK9 Mark IV looks every bit a Kitfox -- wrapped with a sleek carbon-fiber shell fuselage around the tubing.
Industry Developments: InsuranceThere's progress on the insurance front: Bob Mackey, of Falcon Insurance, noted that, "Now, there are five underwriters for individuals [flying LSA], and four writing commercial insurance." It's due to the realization that LSAs aren't "...ultralights that have become airplanes; they're real airplanes." More significantly, "Underwriters are recognizing that this is where the future of GA is coming from. The Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association and EAA announced a new agreement for their manufacturer members. Participating LAMA members will offer free EAA memberships to buyers of new LSA aircraft in return for a plethora of EAA perks.