Sporty’s has launched its new Cessna 172LITE project, acquiring Cessna 172s and equipping them with basic flight instruments. In fact, the only avionics are a communications radio and a transponder.
A factor not usually considered in attracting new pilot starts is today’s trainers overwhelm beginning students as they stare at dozens of switches, buttons and knobs providing access to unneeded information, Sporty’s officials note. For solo training, the mission is simple: To launch an airplane into the sky and return it safely to the runway, officials say.
“For a basic trainer — whose primary purpose is to train a client to solo — the communications radio and transponder are all the avionics needed,” says Sporty’s Founder and Chairman Hal Shevers.
The Cessna 172LITE teaches the fundamentals of airmanship and engine management with only the needed instruments to monitor airspeed, altitude, engine health, and simple communications, officials explain.
Each Cessna 172 in the program undergoes a thorough inspection by Sporty’s technicians. Any parts not meeting Sporty’s standards are replaced. The engine and propeller are removed and overhauled. The 172LITE includes a new metal panel with new, durable switches. Old wiring is removed and replaced if needed and exterior lighting features modern LEDs.
The 172LITE will boast new paint for an attractive first impression, Sporty’s officials note. The rear seat is removed, creating a cargo area. In addition to newly upholstered seats, the cabin’s sidewalls, head liner and floor covering are replaced, along with any bad Plexiglas. Control cables, hinges and torque tubes are inspected, lubricated and replaced as needed. Each airframe system (electrical, fuel, etc.) is checked and components overhauled or replaced and the entire aircraft is inspected for corrosion and corrective action is taken.
“The result is an aircraft that looks new to the client. Due to the low acquisition cost, we can offer it for just $99 an hour, lowering the cost of admission in a Part 23 certified aircraft capable of flying with two real-sized adults,” says Shevers. “With only essential instrumentation the student will learn fundamental airmanship. After mastering those necessary skills the student can then advance to more expensive aircraft to complete their training, but it is simply all the airplane a pilot needs all the way through the Recreational Certificate.”
The future of the program includes adding a second aircraft to Sporty’s flight school and sharing resources, best practices and information with other flight schools interested in assembling their own basic trainer, he concluded.