Twelve years ago when Light-Sport Aircraft burst on the aviation scene, pilots were hungry to learn more about these machines. Not only could they be flown without a medical, they were packed with new technologies. Glass cockpits and carbon fiber fuselages are now common, but LSA were among the first to adopt them.
Most of the first LSA came from overseas. Today, we see a greater balance between U.S.- and foreign-produced aircraft. How were Americans to learn about brands they never heard of, such as Tecnam, Flight Design, Pipistrel, Evektor, and more? How about at an airshow? [Read more…]
By BILL WILSON
The promise of light-sport aviation began with hopes of a cheaper way to get into or stay in aviation. These hopes focused around lower prices for new aircraft and the potential for reduced operating costs.
Now that 2015 has entered the history books, we will slowly begin to see statistics for the year. My guess is that most aviation media will completely miss one of the big picture perspectives.
This oversight does not represent a knowledge failure, but instead reflects a U.S-centric focus on general aviation.
In the world of conventionally-certified aircraft, such a viewpoint is correct. An estimated 80% of the world’s such aircraft are produced and used in America.
However, beyond our shores lies an international gold mine for small aircraft producers. [Read more…]
The Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) sector is aviation’s newest and most prolific with numerous outstanding aircraft available from Europe and the United States.
Europeans seemed to own the category at first because regulations on the other side of the Atlantic permitted companies to fully build very similar aircraft. When the FAA caught up by releasing the Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft regulation in 2004, a tsunami of foreign models arrived on American shores.
In more recent years, U.S. companies made the transition from supplying aircraft kits to manufacturing ready-to-fly models. The two activities are very distinct business models, so the transition took some years.
With both sets of skills now well developed, many American companies are providing have-it-your-way airplanes in either kit form or factory built. To the FAA’s credit, the regulation is surprisingly accommodative of such innovative methods.
As we move deeper into the second decade of LSA, what might be called third generation designs are emerging and a number of these are something to behold.
A third-gen design is one created specifically to fit in the new category and one of the best known examples is Icon Aircraft’s A5 LSA seaplane. I got the chance to fly the production version at this year’s AirVenture in Oshkosh. [Read more…]