“Light-Sport Aircraft are too expensive. I thought they were going to be affordable.”
Statements like these are too common, but not particularly accurate.
Some superbly appointed Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) are rather expensive at $150,000 to $200,000. However, many carbon fiber LSA are half the price of a new Skyhawk 172, although they can fly faster using 50% less fuel while providing 10 inches more width inside. Does that make them pricey or simply more than some want to spend?
Fortunately, affordable choices are available. Let’s look at four relatively affordable alternatives.
Aerotrek’s A220 and A240
Rob Rollison’s Aerotrek company imports the A240 and A220 models from Europe. These are professionally finished aircraft that fly with excellent qualities following several years of refinement. More than 100 are flying in America and more than that overseas.
At less than $90,000 Aerotrek is one of the price value leaders in the LSA space, yet they come equipped with the 100-hp Rotax 912 that burns only four gallons an hour at a reasonable cruise, plus comm radio, intercom, transponder-encoder, and basic instrumentation. Many options are available, but for most buyers the basic model will provide all you need.
Aerotrek may be a bargain-priced airplane, but close examination will show the producer has a high quality manufacturing process. The cockpit is simply but nicely appointed, seats are comfortable and, with its bubbled-out doors, overhead skylight, and turtle deck window, you get visibility to rival a helicopter.
Handling has been steadily improved and current models exhibit crisp, but not touchy, handling and excellent stall characteristics. The A220 offers taildragger handsomeness for those that love the look and A240 offers a nosewheel for pilots who prefer that configuration. The wings fold up quickly and easily for trailering or to take up less room in an airport hangar.
Price: $88,950 (check with the importer for current prices)
BushCat is a distinctive LSA within reach of many budgets. Manufactured by SkyReach in South Africa, this design with the gutsy, distinctive engine cowl design is fun and capable. BushCat uses a very tough and light Dacron-Trilam material for wing, tail, and fuselage covering that adds no weight penalty from paint. The color is in the fabric.
BushCat is available as a fully-built LSA, Experimental LSA or an Experimental Amateur Built, each of which allows importer AeroSport to offer some of the best prices you’ll find anywhere. The starting model of ready-to-fly machines is just over $60,000 and kits start at only $20,000. Take that, weak economy!
More than just an affordably priced airplane, BushCat adds value through its versatility. Available in tailwheel or nosewheel, the design offers a roomy cabin that is 47.5-inches wide (8 inches wider than a Cessna 172), and boasts a useful load of 670 pounds, resulting in a generous 520-pound payload with full fuel (24.8 gallons, enough for six hours).
BushCat features dual controls and unique dual throttles at the end of each outside armrest that folds up out of your way for entry. AeroSport also offers the amphibian BushCat that continues the low purchase price theme.
Price: $65,450 (with 100-hp) (Again, check with the importer for current prices)
Kitfox’s Super Sport
All-American Kitfox is one of the world’s best-selling LSAs with more than 5,000 delivered, a feat matched by very few companies. And no other builder passes Kitfox Aircraft in light aircraft production. The design is flown in numerous countries around the world.
This well-known brand name is admired for crisp handling, excellent performance, easily folded wings, and quality construction. Kitfox offers models in taildragger or tricycle gear. Lightweight welded steel airframes are covered in painted fabric. Thanks to offering both kits and fully-built models, the company can offer multiple powerplant choices, from the newest Rotax 912iS to the turbocharged Rotax 914 with 115 horsepower, as well as the Lycoming O-233.
Kitfox is a strong bird that can do bush flying duty and another kind of flying that can be even more stressful to an airframe: Flight instruction.
For those seeking tailwheel or primary training, Kitfox works closely with Stick and Rudder Aviation. The Boise, Idaho-based company can offer tailwheel endorsements, mountain flying proficiency training and more supplied by Paul Leadabrand, a 13,000-hour backcountry charter pilot, corporate jet instructor pilot, and flight instructor.
More than 5,000 customers aren’t likely to be wrong about their purchase of a Kitfox, but neither did the acquisition break the bank.
Price: $95,995 (Check with the U.S. manufacturer for current prices)
Fabricated in the Ukraine and assembled in Poland, Aeroprakt has more than 500 aircraft flying. The eastern European company continues our tour of modestly priced, well-flying aircraft in the LSA space. Aeroprakt’s popular A-22 uses an all-metal airframe with conventional fabric covering.
Aeroprakt’s A-22 offers more conventional controls with dual yokes, although you can choose a center joystick if you prefer. It has a roomy cabin with perhaps the best visibility of any fixed-wing aircraft. Indeed, some call this the “see-through” airplane. Inside, thanks to bubble doors that also add shoulder and elbow room, you can see directly down and a tapered instrument panel gives an open forward view. Entry through the wide doors make the process easy even for less flexible pilots.
Handling is a strength of the A-22. Controls are well balanced. Stalls are very mild with or without flaps with no tendency to drop a wing. Near stall, controls remain effective.
Like so many builders in this space, Aeroprakt uses the Rotax 912 with 100 horsepower and it makes the design quite a performer. A-22 can leave the runway in 300 feet (with average loading and a mild headwind), climb at better than 800 fpm, and cruise around 100 knots.
Price: $$68,500 (Check with the importer for current prices)
These are just four choices below the $100,000 mark. More are also available, largely debunking the myth about “expensive” LSA. A few other companies offering affordable prices include Rans, X-Air, Quicksilver, Aero Adventure, North Wing, Evolution, Aeromarine-LSA, Jabiru, and Just Aircraft.
LSA Under $49,000
Yet if you think $65,000-95,000 is still too much, I can identify several aircraft that sell brand-new, ready-to-fly for less than $49,000, but that will be an article for another time …
The point is the LSA industry has indeed provided many new choices for pilots and that is a great reason to celebrate this newest aviation sector.
You also can find out a lot more about affordable information at ByDanJohnson.com.