On Nov. 30, Guy Reynolds will celebrate his 100th birthday by taking a flight in a Light-Sport Aircraft. Putting a finer point on it, he’ll take this flight in his LSA. Are you surprised that a centenarian has an LSA? Admit it…I was. However, Guy is no ordinary guy. He bought his Evektor Sportstar back at the beginning of LSA and he’s been flying it about 100 hours every year. That’s probably more than you fly your LSA. Impressive even for a young 50-year old pilot, this fact is, well… astounding for a 90-something pilot.
A fun thing happened this weekend. Such pleasures occur regularly across the USA where we enjoy so much aviation freedom. This time I got in on part of a weekend fly-out. Plus, I want to celebrate a thriving LSA flight school, another one supported by an arrangement called “leaseback.”
My European associate and friend, Jan Fridrich, coined a phrase a few years ago: “Global LSA,” he said, meaning the ASTM standards set could be used in any country and thereby create a worldwide market for recreational aircraft. Already a few accept the standards and many are considering or are already using some variant. So, in this post, let’s review some international successes for LSA.
In light of recent developments, perhaps some ups and downs of FAA’s involvement with Light-Sport aviation can offer perspective. First some background, then an appeal for your help on behalf of LSA.
What’s going on out in the marketplace? More than any time since the launch of Light-Sport Aircraft in 2004, I have not observed such a frenzy of activity for a particular niche, this time for LSA seaplanes. Next season, in 2013, we could see no less than nine entries — three brand new — and that count does not include any LSA equipped with floats, possibly adding several more. Yet some major potholes appear in the runway…or perhaps that should be waves sloshing over the bow.
Honestly, I didn’t expect much LSA news at AOPA’s Aviation Summit in Palm Springs. Despite several LSA on display, including Kitfox, Evektor, Flight Design, Arion, Jabiru, SportCruiser, Skycatcher, and CubCrafters, the AOPA event is not a common place for LSA announcements. Certainly I didn’t expect the world’s largest supplier of kit aircraft to offer a fully built Special LSA.
At Summit, Van’s officials unveiled a new program to build completed, fly-away RV-12s. The Aurora, Ore.-based company detailed a working agreement with Synergy Air to manufacture the airplanes in the U.S.A. Synergy Air is a well-established company providing instructional seminars, videos, and builder assistance to complete kit airplanes, located at the airport in Eugene, Ore.
Tecnam North America will launch the new P92 Echo Classic Light priced at $74,999 through the end of 2012.
Soon, it passes. I don’t refer to the move from summer’s heat to the cold days of winter, but rather to the merciful end to the political season that cannot come too soon for many aviators. Of course, we worry about how various moves by the government may influence our flying, both in costs and in privileges. Yet, the onslaught of ads and constant yammering of the political class tends to distract us from what we really love — flying our airplanes above this beautiful country in relative freedom.
Regretfully it won’t end on election day. That’s because another, even larger battle looms soon afterward. [Read more…]
I recently attended an ASTM meeting. This is for the standards that are used to “certify” Light-Sport Aircraft. Yes, it’s pretty dry stuff but it is the way such a staggering development of 128 new models of LSA has been possible in just seven years, an accomplishment not replicated anywhere in aviation, worldwide, since airplanes first flew. That would not be possible when using government certification systems.
So successful has it been that the FAA is now moving with surprising swiftness toward a similar system for Part 23 or regularly Type Certified aircraft, such as Cessnas and Cirruses.