Did The Skycatcher Kill LSA?

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I mostly fly aircraft certificated under Part 23, but last month, I had five flights in a row in four different light sport aircraft. All this light sport flying got me thinking about an opinion piece I read years ago with the self-explanatory title: “The Skycatcher’s Death Proves the LSA Rule is a Failure.” That seems like a lot to hang on one chubby little airplane.

I’m not a nervous flier. I teach spins and light aerobatics. I fly single-engine piston aircraft at night and in IMC, although I am resistant to doing both at the same time. But whenever I fly the Skycatcher, it stresses me out. The club where I teach has a policy that pilots are required to plan for a one-hour fuel reserve. I think it’s a good policy. A one-hour reserve leaves just enough margin for mistakes and closed runways.

Call me what you will, but if you want to reduce your odds of being in an aircraft accident, the lowest hanging fruit—by far—is not running out of gas. The useful load on the Skycatcher is about 450 pounds. Take two adult men of slightly below average weight, with flight bags, a few quarts of spare oil and one hour of reserve fuel. That leaves 55 minutes of gas for actual flying. What am I supposed to do with that? Admittedly, many pilots will choose to intentionally exceed the aircraft’s maximum gross takeoff weight. While the 1320-pound (600 KG) weight limit for LSAs is an arbitrary figure, pilots who exceed it will be left to calculate performance figures and ultimate load factor without assistance from Cessna’s test pilots and engineers. That’s never a good practice and a totally unacceptable practice in the training environment.

The airplane is not only too heavy; the construction is too fragile. On a recent flight in the Skycatcher, the secondary door latch wouldn’t close all the way, so I pushed hard against the door to make sure it was secure with the primary latches. You can guess where this story goes, and you’re half right. The door didn’t come open. Much worse, it came half open. The front latch released, the rear latch stayed secure, and the leading edge of the door popped out like reverse thrust doors with a similar impact on performance.

After a herculean effort to get the door closed, we flew the 15 miles back home at 60 knots to keep the door from getting away from us again. To make it a real gold star day, my student threw up from the combination of excitement and turbulence as we were entering the traffic pattern. The Skycatcher does have easy inflight access to the baggage area, which allowed me to rapidly repurpose a gallon zip lock bag from oil funnel holder to barf bag.

You’d think for how heavy this airplane is, and how delicately constructed, it would be spacious. Although my 6-foot 3-inch frame fits OK in a Cessna 152, the Skycatcher’s seat is fixed and the adjustable rudder pedals move about three inches, leaving my knees at elbow height.

Is this all the proof we need that LSAs make for bad airplanes? Well, maybe it’s just proof that the Skycatcher was a bad airplane. This may explain why Cessna couldn’t make enough money on the airplane to justify the liability and ultimately scrapped the unsold inventory. It could also be that the light aircraft market is so unprofitable that there’s no long-term role for large public companies like Textron, who are driven more by profit than passion.

There are LSAs out there with ample interior room and great useful load, but they tend to use lighter Rotax engines and lighter fabric-covered wings. The Skycatcher can’t keep up because it wasn’t really designed as an LSA. It’s a scaled-down Cessna 152, which is a scaled-down Cessna 172, which is a scaled-down 747. I hope I’m not bursting anyone’s bubble by pointing out that Cessna is not exactly a modern innovator in design of light aircraft. The Cessna 172 was introduced in 1955 and hasn’t fundamentally changed since 1996. To be clear, the 172 is the best training aircraft I’ve ever flown. It’s a damn good airplane. It just shouldn’t have surprised anyone that Cessna failed to squeeze all the juice from the light sport rules.

I suggest that you go fly a light sport aircraft if you haven’t already. I know, there are things they can’t do. They don’t carry more than one passenger, they don’t go into IMC and they don’t go fast. But hardly anyone does. Very few flights in piston singles have more than two people on board. They rarely fly in IMC. And while I’m constantly looking for trips far enough to outrun my car, but short enough to outrun Southwest Airlines, I never find them. Get in an LSA, grab your BFF, go sightseeing and have some lunch. That’s what piston single flying is mostly about. And that’s OK.

Geoff Rapoport is an AVweb news editor.

Comments (35)

I agree Geoff. Thanks.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 22, 2017 7:47 PM    Report this comment

I'm losing sight of your point, Geoff. First you point out the limitations and shortcomings of the C162 and LSA and then you tell us to go fly a LSA. Not being mean ... just trying to figure out your point.

I WAS very interested in LSA's and flew about half a dozen. And, I was one of the unfortunate people who parted with $5K on the very first day they were hawking 'em at Airventure 2007 ... 10 years ago. Once they announced the China thing, I walked away from it. Later, when I had a chance to inspect it as an A&P, I was NOT impressed with it, either. One would think Cessna could do better. That Cirrus and Piper dropped their LSA's is VERY telling. Sumting wong here?

I chuckled when I read that you were not impressed with the C162's light weight construction. THAT is why so many of 'em have BRS chutes ... as backup insurance.

THE problem with LSA's is the 1320 pound / 600KG weight limitation. I am convinced that is just too low to either be structurally sound OR useful. If the MGTOW of a LSA could be raised to about 2,000 pounds and STILL be an LSA not requiring a medical, I believe that both a decent airplane and a usable segment of aviation might jump to life. Until then ... it's nothing more than another aviation bad idea. And THAT is before we examine the price vs performance thing.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | February 22, 2017 8:30 PM    Report this comment

Nice article.

I like LSAs, most recently Jabirus. The 160/170 is half a 172 - motor, wing, weight etc - but they are roomier and fly so nicely. They look like a surfboard from the inside though lol.

I thought the 162 was a good idea - using the time-honored construction for a new category. A composite can work within LSA rules while being less durable in some regards. The 162 obviously needed more MTOW - perhaps 50kg for structure/engine and 50kg for useful?

Posted by: Cosmo Adsett | February 22, 2017 8:51 PM    Report this comment

Did the Skycatcher kill LSA? Since LSA are alive and well, no. But something sure killed the Skycatcher.

Posted by: Dave Miller | February 22, 2017 10:44 PM    Report this comment

The Skycatcher's structural design, limited market and price killed the Skycatcher.I agree with Larry, the gross weight needs to be increased for safety and to serve the recreational and flight training purposes better. The LSA program is kinda surviving in its small and fragil environment. May keep going.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 23, 2017 12:48 AM    Report this comment

I encourage all of you to go read the final Light Sport rule as published by the FAA in the Federal Register. It's very enlightening, because there is a lot of additional commentary right from the horse's... err... mouth, on the reasoning (such as it was) for the limitations they put in place.

For example, the FAA fully, truly, and honestly believed that the vast majority of LSA's would look a lot more like "fat ultralights" (picture a Part 103 open-frame truss, fabric wing ultralight with two seats), would not fly faster than 87 knots, and would fall well within the weight and stall speed limitations. They agreed to the current speed limit with a reasoning that basically went "we don't really think anyone will come close to that, but we'll give them some margin".

The FAA needs to largely deregulate privately-owned personal aircraft; I suggest the 250kt/6-seat/etc. limits from the new medical rule as a guide. We don't need microscope-level supervision of every step of every process of every part on every airplane. Allow more homebuilts to be built like E-LSAs, allow larger/faster production airplanes to be built like S-LSA. Something like a 172 or RV-10 shouldn't need to be certified and locked down like an airliner.

Posted by: Robert Gatlin-Martin | February 23, 2017 6:12 AM    Report this comment

www.tinyurl.com/zekyyan

Federal Register reference.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | February 23, 2017 7:38 AM    Report this comment

Robert G-M ... your last paragraph is spot on. If that could somehow happen -- USABLE recreational aircraft built to consensus standards -- and IF enough of 'em sold such that the prices got 'real,' I think we'd see some real improvements in GA. The Skycatcher didn't kill LSA; it's the other way around.

In much the same way as the recreational pilot certificate / primary aircraft category didn't succeed, in much the same way as the LSA idea is faltering (despite a few localized successes) and, now, BasicMed is missing the target ... who is to blame for this? Me? AOPA and/or EAA? Pilots, generically? I don't think so. All of us here know who is to blame; we don't need to blather ad nauseam.

It's no wonder many of us approaching the end of our flying avocations or vocations are SO frustrated! LSA seemed like maybe it'd work but ... IF that were so, why haven't more of 'em sold. Why can't I easily find one to rent. And why do they cost so much? We know why.

I took the time to re-read the long 2004 Federal Register LSA Rule again (above). The last sentence of the initial summary clearly does seem to be aimed at fat ultralights. So HOW did we wind up with such a plethora of machines that look like watered down C150's with panels that look like airliners? Answer ... because there was a pent up DEMAND for it. The ONLY avenue available to build 'em was the LSA rule. Doesn't matter what the 2004 intent was, when it shook out, machines that look like real airplanes -- but AIN'T -- popped out the other end of the pipeline.

LSA's are too expensive to be fat Part 103 ultralights as well as offer enough performance to justify current prices as pseudo airplanes. Period. That's the problem.

Elsewhere in Avweb today, it's being reported that for the third year in a row sales of airplanes is flat. Who's fault is that? Years ago, Cessna produced C150's recognizing that the pilots thus trained in reasonably priced airplanes would move up the pilot food chain and want better more expensive airplanes. And they did. Today, all they have is $400K C172's. And, elsewhere, $200K LSA's. A third possibility is the E-AB movement but that's a small and unique subset of aviation.

The airlines are now beginning to holler for pilots. The USAF is doing the same. Is anyone out there listening to any of this? My gosh ... all one has to do is go to Airventure and see young kids looking skyward to know that there ARE interested young folks wanting to learn to fly ... they just can't afford it. Just last weekend at the SkiPlane (except without snow) fly in at EAA Oshkosh, I ran into a person who had the fire in her belly ... but said she just can't afford it. Attending the EAA accelerated LSA classes at their Air Academy now costs $10K. $10K !

For the most part, new student pilots are relegated to flying old Cessna's and Piper's. If a heavy LSA could be built and flown without a medical ... say a MGTOW of 2,500#, that'd reinvigorate things. But if we're going to be saying that LSA's were intended to be fat ultralights because that was the original intent of the "Rule" which SHOULD have changed but didn't ... fuhgetaboutit.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | February 23, 2017 3:09 PM    Report this comment

Robert -

Absolutely right.

At the time, the FAA was responding to pressure from the ultralight community. "Fat ultralights" with two seats were proliferating and had no legal status other than as fully certified aircraft, with all the airframe and pilot regulations attendant thereto. So, close to 20 years ago, the FAA began working with the ultralight community to come up with a reasonable new category of aircraft with rules that the interested parties could live with.

The key is that the pressure came from the ultralight community.

Fast-forward into the 2010's. Some corners of the GA community are working with the government to get the changes they want. Icon Aircraft asked for and got a weight exemption. The alphabet GA groups asked for 3rd Class Medical reform and came back with half a loaf (after airline interests ate the other half).

The rest of the GA community prefers to sit on their behinds and indulge in their dislike of government rather than do what it takes to promote their interests in the real world of government and public opinion.

Badmouthing LSA restrictions among ourselves isn't going to change anything. Organizing and lobbying might.

(BTW - if the airlines want pilots so badly, they could help pay for training them. And if the airlines aren't willing to foot the bill, then they don't really want them badly enough.)

Posted by: Rollin Olson | February 23, 2017 5:30 PM    Report this comment

The 162 did not "kill" LSA's; the 162 is just the most prominent example of why LSA's are not delivering on payload, flexibility, longevity, safety, innovation or low-cost. LSA meant paying more and getting less and that is tough to sustain in any market.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | February 23, 2017 7:19 PM    Report this comment

LSA = Light Sport Aircraft

I.e. a flying Miata. Not a Buick.

Not built for payload, (mission?) flexibility or longevity. That's what a Caravan is for.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | February 23, 2017 8:26 PM    Report this comment

LSA always was really bad idea. I could not believe it when the EAA pushed this so hard. They would have been better to push medical reform.
The industry is now stuck with silly, fragile, limited capability aircraft which will have short lives.
For real medical reform look at what the Brits did last year.
ONE self declaration up to age 70 and every 3 years thereafter. Now the UK CAA can hardly be accused of not being a bureaucratic, bed wetting, nanny state organisation but in this case thier rational risk analysis, and willingness to follow through should be applauded.
We're trying to get something similar in Australia but the bureaucracy has circled the wagons and is constructing fortifications.

Mike Borgelt

Posted by: Michael Borgelt | February 23, 2017 8:28 PM    Report this comment

That thousands of pilots are flying and enjoying their LSA, some building in their garages or hangars, learning new skills, supporting aviation with fuel sales and products and hangar rentals and many other contributions to GA is a wonderful thing for our industry.

Everything has its place, niche in space and time. We LSA drivers are always very impressed with the real pilots flying real airplanes, despite our embarrassment when we climb faster, land shorter, maneuver better, use less fuel, and enjoy more cabin room than you - we don't mean to always show you up! We're just havin fun, too.

Posted by: Dave Miller | February 24, 2017 4:39 AM    Report this comment

The reason that LSA is even doing this well(relatively speaking)is simply because pilots don't want to stop flying...period. It's an old mans game mostly, but there are younger folks, like myself, who would only go this route simply because it's the only way to do it(medical plus SI=not gonna happen). I honestly hoped for the weight increase so more real planes would happen....but alas that's not gonna happen, at least not in my lifetime. I hate complaining about this, but despite paying my dues to the likes of AOPA and EAA--even though I'm NOT a pilot mind you--in futile hopes of this dream of mine to become a pilot by advocacy actually works, I don't see it happening and I'm MAD. I was just disappointed, but I'm past that now and it actually hurts to see this happening. I'm still going to Oshkosh, still dreaming despite all this, but it's become quite clear to me, and many, many others, that GA in the US is all but a pipe dream and not much else. Sorry, but you know it's true.....

Posted by: Michael Livote | February 24, 2017 5:14 AM    Report this comment

"To be clear, the 172 is the best training aircraft I've ever flown. It's a damn good airplane."

This is probably true - off hand, I can't think of another airplane that's as robust in the training environment (except the PA28), has two doors (there goes the PA28), and is as easy to maintain.

And that's a tragedy. Because the 172 is a pretty awful airplane. Its roll response is so poor, it scares me (pitch is not so bad). Its visibility is so bad, it scares me. It's so inefficient, my engineering instincts cry at the thought of it (for heaven's sake, a Grumman Tiger - an airplane that looks like it never met the word "streamline" - can outrun it handily). The cabin is too narrow to be acceptable in an LSA. It has, what, 12 fuel drains, suggesting that it must have one of the world's most badly-designed fuel systems. And it costs more than most supercars.

We desperately need new airplanes.

"The FAA needs to largely deregulate privately-owned personal aircraft; I suggest the 250kt/6-seat/etc. limits from the new medical rule as a guide. We don't need microscope-level supervision of every step of every process of every part on every airplane. Allow more homebuilts to be built like E-LSAs, allow larger/faster production airplanes to be built like S-LSA. Something like a 172 or RV-10 shouldn't need to be certified and locked down like an airliner."

Robert is right.

Posted by: Thomas Boyle | February 24, 2017 6:55 AM    Report this comment

Forgot the belt loop!
Good job. Don't forget the Skycatcher rips belt loops as you get in or out. One other point: some LSAs push the 120-knot limit (wink wink). They're not all slow.

Posted by: Alton Marsh | February 24, 2017 7:37 AM    Report this comment

As Jason Blair opined three years ago (3/27/2014), the LSA rule it was the wrong formula to start with. It still is.

Posted by: Art Friedman | February 24, 2017 7:50 AM    Report this comment

Here we go with this discussion again.

The 162 is kind of an analogy for LSA as a whole I feel. Lots of hype and hope, then reality does not match the hype.

It became clear after a couple years that LSA was going to find a niche. That niche being a way to keep the older generation flying a bit longer, in little $150k European Rotax jobs and modernized Cubs.

Posted by: Joshua Waters | February 24, 2017 8:32 AM    Report this comment

Alton, I heard the Belt Loop is the new Shirt tail for C162 first solo. You just have to write really small!

Posted by: A Richie | February 24, 2017 8:52 AM    Report this comment

Joshua, did you mean that the LSA purpose was to keep the old and ambulatory flying a bit longer? Please explain.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 24, 2017 8:56 AM    Report this comment

"The FAA needs to largely deregulate privately-owned personal aircraft; I suggest the 250kt/6-seat/etc. limits from the new medical rule as a guide. We don't need microscope-level supervision of every step of every process of every part on every airplane. Allow more homebuilts to be built like E-LSAs, allow larger/faster production airplanes to be built like S-LSA. Something like a 172 or RV-10 shouldn't need to be certified and locked down like an airliner."

Agreed...and they already exist:

Just look at European "UL" aircraft such as the Shark UL, and TL-U Stream, and Ellipse. 150kt cruise, 5 gph mogas, 700+ nm range, aircraft parachute, and way cooler looking than a 152. Who wouldn't want to fly any one of those?

They're all built such that they'll comply with current LSA standards, except have retractable gear (Actually Amphib LSA are allowed retractable gear) and go fast (150 kt cruise - that's an operational limit, mitigate that by requiring a PPL).

GA needs new planes now. They're here.

Posted by: J.B. Baron | February 24, 2017 9:06 AM    Report this comment

JB, the problem is that as soon as you exceed *any* of the LSA restrictions, you have to certify the aircraft to Part 23, with the same level of Part 21 regulatory burden and FAA micromanagement that Boeing gets. There's no in-between--you either make and produce an LSA, or you go full-blown Part 23. That wasn't as much a problem 50 years ago, but today an aspiring Part 23 airplane producer is going to generate more FAA paperwork and more billable man-hours before the first airplane is even assembled than an entire light airplane certification project would have generated from conception to service entry.

Intensive certification oversight is perhaps appropriate for large airliners carrying the general public. It isn't appropriate for privately-owned personal aircraft.

I really, truly believe that in the absence of a massive overhaul of the FAA, the future of light aviation will be homebuilts.

Posted by: Robert Gatlin-Martin | February 24, 2017 9:42 AM    Report this comment

Michael - Comments like yours leave me worried about our young people. If you want it bad enough then you will find a way to get it done. There have always been "barriers", yes even for the "old men" back in the "old days". Put your mind to the task and get going on it.

Posted by: Ken Keen | February 24, 2017 9:56 AM    Report this comment

"Comments like yours leave me worried about our young people. If you want it bad enough then you will find a way to get it done."

I know plenty of people around my age (or older) who have the financial means to afford flight training, but are turned off by the regulations and amount of time necessary to complete the training. There are simply a lot of competing interests that have far lower barriers of entry (either time, money, or regulations) that make GA look like a dinosaur not worth pursuing. And who can blame them, especially when you can face losing your certificate for something as benign as straying into the edge of a TFR (which you might not even have known about, despite your best effort at planning)?

I know of no other avocation where one could be banned from participation for relatively minor infractions in the scheme of the big picture. I feel like I was pretty much born to fly, but even I have had moments where I've thought the regulations almost don't make it worth sticking around GA.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | February 24, 2017 10:57 AM    Report this comment

I have flown LSAs several times and compared to my usual C182. For me the experience was frightening rather than fun. I felt like I was being blown around like a leaf.

I researched why and discovered that the LSA formula of power, weight and stall speed results in wing loading that allows the LSA to indeed simulate the performance of a leaf in a breeze. Cruise can be nausea inducing and landing is always more challenging than in an aircraft with higher wing loading. The issue could have been solved if the weight/horsepower formula had been more reasonable. IMO a LSA formula based on heavier wing loading and perhaps limited to 2 seats would promote safety.

That in itself does not mean that they cannot be flown safely (although accident stats do not favor LSAs) but the LSA might require more "seat of the pants" flying skill than required by standard utility aircraft.

Anyway my LSA experiences are behind me because it just wasn't fun being "beat up" by minimal gusty winds in the LSA. For the purposes of the article I have not flown the C162. None were available in my area. I believe the failure of the C162 were more related to the LSA specs than severe deficiencies in the C162 design.

Posted by: Howard Nelson | February 24, 2017 11:27 AM    Report this comment

This is a terrible hatchet job on a good airplane. The author is six foot three and complains that he is uncomfortable. That is like trying to put a size 12 foot in a size 9 shoe. Yes, it is uncomfortable, but is it the shoe''s fault? The author reports pushing hard on the door to close the latch. "Pushing hard" on anything in the cockpit of a flying airplane is usually a bad idea. Securing the latch is repeated on the pre-flight checklist for the Skycatcher. So this is the plane's fault? The pilot didn't follow the checklist and ham-fistedly broke the door.

I have logged hours in several different LSAs and I find the Skycatcher the closest to a standard category aircraft. It is built with standard aircraft hardware, has a Continental engine and was developed by a world class airplane manufacturer., It has a fully integrated Garmin panel, LED lighting, and was overbuilt for the training environment.

Posted by: James Ginther | February 24, 2017 7:02 PM    Report this comment

Then why didn't it ultimately sell, Jim?

Posted by: Larry Stencel | February 24, 2017 7:32 PM    Report this comment

It did sell, Cessna had something like 2000 pre-orders. Cessna cancelled the Skycatcher after a couple of major price increases. I suspect they couldn't produce it profitably. There was also a change of leadership at Cessna that may have had something to do with it. I think anyone considering a LSA would be smart to check out a Skycatcher before buying anything else.

Posted by: James Ginther | February 24, 2017 8:36 PM    Report this comment

Cessna continues to be the predominent aircraft in the flight training market. The C150, C152 and the C172s built before 2004 are the aircraft of choice by flight schools. The argument portraying the LSAs as the substitute trainers or the makers of the new generation of pilots is not quite correct. The LSA concept was and may still be perversely accepted by some buyers and a few flight schools that trusted legimitate organizations that meant well but more naive than practical and realistic. EAA, AOPA supported the idea but they had their head in the clouds. Over one hundred manufacturers rushed in and now the majority have or will fold out. EAA and AOPA and the media may have had good intentions but they are and were incredibly wrong. Just as wrong as with the Recreational Pilot program. The LSA market never had the market strength. Cessna is correct in snuffing the Skycatcher.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | December 4, 2013 9:25 PM Report this comment? Not yet.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 24, 2017 9:25 PM    Report this comment

"Joshua, did you mean that the LSA purpose was to keep the old and ambulatory flying a bit longer? Please explain."

The purpose of LSA as I understand was to create a lower cost option for getting into GA. Less requirements, less hours to obtain, and lower cost airplanes were originally touted a way to bring in new pilots. An added benefit was the 1940's era J-3's, Champs, and some Ercoupes qualified as well. This is as I remember reading the hype in the magazines 10+ years ago.

What LSA has morphed itself into o is primarily a way to keep the older generation flying. Icon seems to defy that convention, but then again Icon has made a business case out of defying convention. And they needed a weight waiver to do it.

Posted by: Joshua Waters | February 25, 2017 9:23 AM    Report this comment

For all the fault to be found with the weight restriction of LSAs, it made a small industry possible. Had the weight been high enough to include Cessna 150s most of the potential adopters of LSA flying would have run out and bought 150s, Super Cubs, Ercoupes, Aeroncas, Luscombes and the like. There would have been plenty of available, cheap, and accepted airplanes to fill the demand and little incentive to bring anything new to market.

Posted by: Richard Montague | February 25, 2017 11:52 AM    Report this comment

Richard, you are correct. IFR/VFR cert makes a positive difference. Now extend all to 2300 lbs and we would have game.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 25, 2017 2:07 PM    Report this comment

If you want all the capabilities of current PART 23 airplanes, a 1320 Lb weight limit isn't high enough for a 152-style design. Heck, the 152, with ts 350 lb higher GW, could hardly go far with two real men on board. So, the Skycatcher, with its similar design, had no chance to do better.

On the other hand, an Aeronca Champ did well enough at 1220 lb GW. They are fun, fast enough for local flying, and great time-builders. A well designed LSA can be equally desirable; but it can't cost $100K and be a major player.

Personally, I think the Skycatcher's name is what killed it. It makes me want to spit, or worse. But pretentious and cutesy airplane names do that to me.

Posted by: S. Lanchester | February 26, 2017 2:00 AM    Report this comment

Hype and aircraft and pilot limitations will continue to frustrate the LSA market.

In 2005 the FAA made a forecast that by 2015 there would be over 11,700 Sport Pilot Certificates issued. Well, the actual 2015 number ended up being a little over 5,400. Think of all the money sunk into R&D solely based on that forecast...

I recommend bringing back a slightly modified version of the 152... IFR, two seats, fuel injected, standard instruments, a little more HP, slightly higher gross weight, utility, etc.

Now... what about the impact of Basic Med and the Sport Pilot Certificate...

I say let's move on from Sport Pilot and LSA... it was an idea that never took off.

Posted by: Aaron Wilson | March 4, 2017 6:44 PM    Report this comment

I checked out a Skycatcher at a local flight school last year and one of the CFIIs said that it sits unused when there is any wind, whereas the schools 152s and 172s are fully operational. Another glaring problem with the LSA market is that the new prices are sky high. For example, who is going to spend upwards of $170K on a new SportCruiser when they can get a nice used IFR Archer, Warrior or Skyhawk for considerably less and that has a lot more load-carrying capability (both space and useful load).

What is needed is a SportCruiser-type LSA for about half of the price of current new models in order to really stimulate the LSA market. But with limited production, it's probably not possible to achieve the kind of economy of scale the "Big Three" did in the heydays of the 1970s. Hopefully the new proposal for building new aircraft to a consensus standard will "take flight" and really unleash new innovation in general aviation outside of the LSA market. It's time for light aircraft airframe and engine design to get out of the 1930s and 1940s.

Posted by: Joe Erwin | June 21, 2017 8:18 PM    Report this comment

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