AVmail: September 27, 2010
We have been inundated with letters in the past few weeks and rather than run them all in one huge file, we're splitting them by topic to give all the perspectives a decent airing. Today, it's the cost of LSAs. Thursday will be UAVs in North Dakota. Next Sunday will be through-the-fence agreements. Thanks for all the great feedback.
Letter of the Week: Flying's Never Been Cheap
Flying has never been cheap and never will be, our great technological capabilities notwithstanding. David Thurston in his classic books Design for Flying and Design for Safety showed clearly why the LSA category could never have met its lofty goals of affordable flying: small market, high development costs (even with LSAs' relaxed regulatory regimen), and the amount of infrastructure necessary for a sustainable business.
We always get caught in the trap of expecting the advances we enjoy in our cars and electronic equipment to be directly applicable to light aircraft without considering the vast differences in market size that make such advances possible. The proponents of the LSA category misapprehended the sources of new aircraft cost as onerous regulation of airframes and aviators. The real drivers of the high cost of light aircraft flight are basic physics, basic business, and its economically non-essential nature.
The current light sport aircraft will not save GA. These mostly-plastic planes have been priced well beyond the range of the average GA pilot. It is my conviction that the FAA and certain aircraft manufactures acted in lock step to place the arbitrary weight of the LSA just beyond the range of many classic, inexpensive and available aircraft.
Case in point is the Cessna 150. There are thousands of them out there, yet they were not included in Light Sport. It's odd that Cessna now builds a light sport!!
I owned a beautiful 1958 Forney Aircoupe. (Aircoupe is correct for this model.) It was too heavy by FAA standards by 80 pounds because it had an all-metal wing as compared to the only Coupe to be LSA-qualified. That would be the "C" model with a rag wing and 12 to 15 years older than the modern Coupes. Does this make sense?
I will never own or rent a new LSA airplane. They're too much money for way too little airplane!!
That Elusive Perfection
"How the ruling is ultimately enforced will effect how new planes are funded"? Please, it's "affect"! I expect a higher degree of professional journalism from you guys.
We do miss the odd thing, Bob, and we appreciate the heads-up when we do. And while ours was actually a usage error, yours was a genuine grammatical error, which we fixed for you. Neither journalism nor professionalism was "affected" in either case.
Call and Response on "Line Up and Wait"
I would like to see how many pilots think "Line Up and Wait" is going to improve on "Position and Hold." If it is such a good idea, why not "Traffic is waiting in position" or "Wait short of runway 12R"?