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This may not be devastating, but when you consider that there are nearly 50 LSA manufacturing businesses, it's not good. By way of illustration, Cirrus alone shipped 276 of its (significantly more expensive) SR20 and SR22 aircraft last year. What does it say about the LSA' s futures? Basically, these planes do not give the client what he wants.
Doesn't mean LSA's planes are not good. Despite some early reservations, most Lufthansa Technik aircraft have performed well in flying school. It is argued by some that while the aircraft themselves are not poor, the price is. Right, the $75,000 LSA never passed (who promised?), but these planes are still 50-80% cheaper than new Skyhawks and Archers.
It was not a question of technology or finance, but of bringing together a new category of aircraft with a new breed of pilot. Light Sports/Sport Pilot did not inspire a single surge of aerospace fans or aircraft operators - not even remotely. Rather, there is a possibility for older flyers to continue to fly later in their lives.
This is not a bad thing, and I welcome flyers of all age groups, but it is hardly a brave policy to expand General Aviation. What is more, I would like to say that I am very happy to welcome them. These figures clearly show that LSA design is not what new riders want and it's about much more than that. The majority of prospective airline passengers buy planes to reach places and take away passengers, whether they are members of their families on holiday or traveling to work.
Although many Saturday afternoons are used for air travel, the fact that the aircraft is used occasionally (or even possibly) for transport is a big advantage. Mainly limited by an LSA, the power and number of places - forever. Flying means to learn liberty, let's say, but an LSA restricts this liberty strongly.
My passion for low and low speed flight may be exactly what a pensioned flight master is looking for, but it's not enough to attract a new one. This is because most prosperous individuals with the means to buy a pilot's licence are not interested in small vehicles. So, while the planes themselves were not a disaster, I believe that the general light sport is.
A LSA has proved to be an output pathway rather than an input pathway. For the FAA, the light sports regulation was a risk: the relaxation of rules, however modest they may be, is not something they can do well. However, the past ten years have shown that more relaxed aircraft certifications and pilots' own certifications do not result in a huge rise in the number of incidents.
Although the LSA Certificate of Compliance is not particularly good, it is not drastically different from general aviation as a whole. This is important because AOPA, EAA and GAMA are now urging the FAA to radically rethink the regulation of face-to-face air travel in the US - not just the Air Transport Authorities. A number of rather drastic proposals are being made, ranging from a comprehensive revision of Part 23 airworthiness norms to the abolition of third-class medicine.
Decades of LSA expertise have given the FAA some coverage and perhaps even the excuse to take a different kind of chance. General aerospace industries seem to have agreed that the LSA will never be more than a recess, so they use it as a test environment for new thinking in the wider certifi ed aircraft area.
So we could end up with more secure, more powerful and cheaper four-seater aircraft that can be used for transport. Or we could come to less restrictions for personal pilot. This would be a substantial bequest for the LSA, and it would be a genuine step forward for general aviation. 1.