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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

LSA Buyer's Guide

Time for young (and old) pilots’ fancies to turn skyward with 30+ sport planes

Piper Aircraft
Leaping into third place by dint of its aggressive production schedule, Piper Aircraft’s PiperSport is an adoption of the original SportCruiser, and a sporty, sexy winner. Built in Czech Republic and outfitted in America, it’s a cream puff in flight with an impressive speed ratio of stall-to-max cruise (26/120 knots). Comfortable and responsive, with excellent performance (1,200 fpm climb, 600 nm range), PiperSport could be the number-one LSA by year’s end. Price: $119,000-$139,900 (three models).

Piper Cub-style LSA dominate all U.S.
sales at nearly 25% of market share. CubCrafters is another major reason, thanks to the Carbon Cub SS and Sport Cub S2. The SS rockets skyward behind an ECi CC340 180 hp engine. Both models marry classic Cub style and construction with carbon-fiber, roomier interiors, wing tanks and electric start. Options include tundra tires, float packages, glass panels and more. Price: $163,280 (Carbon Cub SS); $127,500 (Sport Cub S2).

Tecnam Aircraft
Italian maker Tecnam has built quality aircraft for 60 years. Its line of LSA offers something for everybody: flivvers and cruisers (low-wing P2002 Sierra, high-wing P92 Echo Classic, P2004 Bravo De Luxe); a friendly, rugged trainer (P92 Eaglet) and the luxurious composite/metal cruiser P2008 with 48-inch-wide cabin and 120-knot cruise. Expanding dealer/training/service network and lots of options make Tecnam a worthy contender. Price: $109,999-$169,999 (depending on model and options).

Remos of Germany puts carbon fiber to good use with the Remos GX, a graceful, fun-flying, all-around enjoyable LSA. Many attractive features include extended luggage space, useful load of 615 pounds, 38-knot stall speed (full flaps), 112-knot cruise and Dynon EFIS packages. Folding wings and quality options such as glider tow, Magnum airframe parachute system, autopilot and leather seats make the GX a class act. Price: $148,900 (Remos GX Aviator II).

Australian maker Jabiru fills seventh place in overall U.S. registrations with its J230-SP and sibling J-170 (80 hp). The J230 is a stable, comfortable airplane with good range (800 nm), powerful 120 hp Jabiru 3300 engine, gentle stalling manners, steerable nosewheel and a rear cabin door for one very large baggage area. With 120 knots of cruise, composite construction and cabin heat. Price: $111,900.

Evektor Aircraft
Evektor’s SportStar was the first certified S-LSA. The latest model is SportStar MAX, a solid, comfortable, refined cross-country machine with many attractive features. Even loaded with optional top-notch avionics (including a full IMC-legal IFR instrument suite), the MAX delivers a useful load of 522 pounds—something many leading S-LSA can’t offer. Features abound: 75% power cruise of 110 knots, 700 nm range, nosewheel steering, dual sticks, adjustable rudder pedals. Price: $160,000 (loaded).


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