Light sport airplanes were supposed to be a cheaper alternative to certified aircraft and they are. But AVweb’s look at the accident record of these airplanes confirms what many skeptics worried about: They suffer more crashes than standard category aircraft. This video, first published in 2018, explains why.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Paul, the statistics shows more evidence that the random choice of 600kg/1320 lbs. was a bad idea. Structure and advanced design in controls are safer. After a lot of research I found that the 600 Kilograms/1320 pounds Gross Weight just doesn’t make any sense. Just another FAA opinion not based on facts or study. Listening to the official speak who derived the 600Kg/1320lbs. gross weight was even more convincing of how flawed the gross weight limit is. …. “because we say so”. That was his study.

  2. As retired CFI of fixed wing – I came across first hand shoddy training, shoddy crash investigation and shoddy supervision. In fact I took it upon myself to suggest a flight did not go ahead and gave all the reasons and they fortunately agreed. It was an accident waiting to happen.

  3. Thank you for this article and I agree on your management of speed hypothesis. Before my purchase of a SkyCatcher, in 2011, I flew a demonstrator with the local salesman at my home airport. I had already read and memorized the V-speeds for the 162 (mainly to give me something to do while I waited delivery). On the downwind, as I aligned with the numbers, I reduced the speed to 1.3 Vso and put in the first notch of flaps, about 55 knots. At that point the salesman started yelling that I was flying too slow, but flying the numbers made for a perfect landing.

    Later I noticed that the instructors were also teaching to fly faster, resulting in many missed approaches.

    While I admit that flying the numbers feels wrong, coming from Part 23 certified aircraft, doing so is necessary to remove the too fast risk. Just my 2 cents.

  4. Why an arbitrary 1320#? Because it is 600 KG–the same standard arbitrarily picked by the Euro regulators–and LSAs have been suffering under this “created from whole cloth” number ever since.

    Worse yet, we are FORCED to adhere to this arbitrary number, engineering shortfalls in structure and safety–even though the faults are known. Look how many Experimental LSAs have two suggested gross weights–one with a max of 1320 pounds to be a legal LSA–or a higher gross if licensed Experimental. That’s a horrible indictment of FAA regulation–“let’s force people to skimp on structure and safety, just to comply with European regulations. If we were to follow this same regulatory “leadership” in the automotive world, U.S. car makers would be making copies of the Trabant from East Germany–one of the very worst cars ever made! Notably, it was ALSO built to government regulation!

    As economist Milton Friedman said “If you put the government in charge of sand–within 5 years, there would be a shortage of sand in the Sahara!”

    Designed to European regulations–is it any WONDER that most LSAs are European designs?

  5. Another great PB Film … look out Steven Spielberg ! And training as a plus, too.

    As an early purchaser of the C162, one of the greatest gifts Cessna gave me was NOT delivering the airplanes in a timely manner … resulting in my early cancellation in advance of their decision to cancel the program. I got my deposit back. Not only is the light weight of light sport airplanes a MAJOR issue, that they were going to be produced in China was another which Cessna ‘sprang’ on customers only after they had taken many orders. I HAD three Hecho en China small airport vehicles in my hangar … all three of them turned out to be junk. I’m fairly certain that — despite Cessna’s assurances of QC — the 162 would have turned out the same way. With BasicMed now in place, there’s less impetus to have a LSA if you want to fly into your twilight years.

    Besides the stats you state, the fact that the #1 selling LSA is a Cubcrafters says much.

  6. As an ex-LSA owner, I totally agree with the points in PB’s video and here is my tale.

    When I bought my LSA, a major brand I am not going to mention, I had owned a Grumman Tiger for some time but wanted something newer with a glass panel, hopefully lower total operating costs, and something medical proof as I wasn’t getting any younger.

    I flew up (commercial) to the factory, got the 3 hours or so of factory training and hired a local CFI from a school that used this model LSA as their primary trainer for the roughly 900 mile flight home to get yet more training. During the entire flight the 3 axis autopilot (the Tiger only had a wing leveler, this is great I thought) was turned on for a couple of minutes to make sure it worked, but other than that it was hand flying with several conservative fuel stops.

    After I got the airplane home I hired another local CFI with LOTS of time in light airplanes like the Cub as there were no LSA CFIs to be found to get yet more dual.

    Up to this point the LSA had been a delight to fly. The control forces were slightly, but not significantly, lighter than the Tiger, the visibility was great, the dual MFDs simply wonderful, and it just sipped gas.

    Then the season changed…

    Much of the year at my home airport there are lots of gusty cross winds, which due to the geography of the place are constantly changing direction. These had never been a pucker factor in any other airplane, not the 172s I trained in, any of the Pipers I got checked out in, and certainly not in the Tiger which I often set down on the left main gear first with the nose on the center line.

    The LSA was a different story. I often felt I was riding a leaf being taken where the winds desired and no amount of dancing on the rudder pedals could maintain anything near a stabilized approach. I just need more practice I told myself.

    My last flight in the LSA was one gusty morning practice session where it took three go arounds before I could get the airplane on the ground, within the limits of the runway, with something near the correct airspeed.

    At that point I put the LSA up for sale and found and older 182, which at least had a GPS.

    Perhaps with enough practice I could have gotten to the point where flying the LSA was at least not scary, but as I only fly because it is fun and flying the LSA on anything but a calm day was a lot more like work then fun, I’ll leave those airplanes to someone else.