Coming of age

Are Light-Sport Aircraft truly coming of age? I think so and, while I’m biased by my closeness to the industry, I have observed three noteworthy changes from summer to the recent AOPA Aviation Summit. Starting shortly before and at AirVenture, conversations with numerous established flight schools identified an impending purchase or two of LSAs to enter the training fleet. One of the largest flight training organizations, the University of North Dakota, recent hosted an LSA Fly-off.

Concurrently at AirVenture, representatives from groups like the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) met to lobby for what has been called Part-23 Light. A more recent meeting drew FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, who was said to have expressed support for a rule change in this direction. A successful change in certification methods will draw important lessons from the LSA experiment (my term) — for example, the surprising number of new models introduced in a few year’s time and a reasonable safety record that met expectations. Experience to be gained from the LSA rule thereby becomes important to makers of larger aircraft.

At the AOPA Summit last month, a meeting was hosted by GAMA to assist the industry with leadership. The gathering was attended by such leaders as Alan Klapmeier, a founder of Cirrus; Jack Pelton, the top man at Cessna; AOPA President Craig Fuller; new EAA President Rod Hightower; and GAMA leader Pete Bunce. Each of these men have expressed strong interest in the success of LSA. Five and a half years after the first fully-built LSA took to the air, the new sector appears to be winning its wings among the veterans of aviation.

For more on Sport Pilots and LSA:


  1. Jay says

    I fly under the SP rules. I found, purchased and restored an Aeronca 11AC. I then went ahead and obtained my SP license in the Aeronca. That was in July 2006. I now have 500 hours in the Chief and 600 total time.

    I don’t like flying at night (I trained for the private), rarely can find anyone to go flying with me (no need for more than two seats) and can fly as much as I do because the engine burns around 4.5 gallons per hour in cruise and 3.5 in the pattern.

    I honestly don’t know why more people don’t go SP with the more fuel efficient aircraft. I’m the only one at my airport but probably fly more than anyone else there. I see a lot of people flying 2 or 3 empty seats (more fuel, higher insurance).

    Flying is indeed expensive but I’ve found the older planes with the smaller engines allow for less expense in fuel. The simpler planes also require less expense to maintain and annual.

    My fixed costs for a hanger, insurance, and annual are around $4000.00. Add another $2,400.00 or so in fuel and you’re spending some decent coin every year for a hobby.

    I’m not sure how I could make it any less expensive unless I took on a partner which I have no interest in doing. Flying is expensive, always has been, always will be.

  2. says

    From my personal observations, the LSA movement is very similar to the Recreational Pilot Certificate; a lot of publicity but little substance with the persons who really are needed to sustain aviation as I have known it.

    There must be a substantial change in the cost of entry level flying for us to encourage the next generation. Airplanes plainly cost too much for even the above average household or even several households to support a flying habit and maintain reasonable currency.

    Many of the LSA producers are underfunded and can not support an inventory of aircraft for immediate or even reasonable delivery.

    Most flight training is not conducted at a flight school under part 141 but under part 91. And these operations need aircraft for commercial operations not just flight training.

    The FAA rule which will not allow Private Pilots to fly for Remuneration then defines loggable flight time with an experienced pilot as remuneration limits flight time for currency on many flights and the regulation needs to be rewritten.

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