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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

Another U.S. distributor with a broad S-LSA offering, Sportair serves up the latest S4 version of the Sting low-wing line; the TL-3000 Sirius high-wing luxury cruiser; the Savage line of four Cub clones, including iCub (Apple iPad docks in front cockpit) and the SeaRey amphibian—talk about a one-stop shop. Sting S4 sports a carbon-fiber composite airframe and is the latest version of a 10-year design line with 650 aircraft flying. The Bush iCub and its “off-field” features make it a natural for country field ops. SeaRey is an 18-year veteran. Sirius is a spacious cross-country cruiser with 600 pounds useful load, nimble handling, stylish interior and industry-proven Rotax 912 ULS with 2000 hour TBO. Price: $79,900-$145,560.

Eastman Aviation
The highly popular Zodiac LS line battles back from a number of fatal crashes due to structural problems, which were addressed with a thorough airframe redesign. Also offered is the STOL CH-750 LS, a super short-field flivver, also all-aluminum, based like the Zodiac on a design from longtime experimental aircraft designer Chris Heintz. Full-span flaperons, all-flying rudder and a Continental O-200 certified mill are notable features. Price: $99,950 (CH-750).

LSA America
A long, challenging period seems over for the Allegro. The original Czech-built S-LSA reemerges completely American made (from Littleton, North Carolina). Flowing, molded-composite lines, three avionics configurations (Executive has Dynon SkyView), and worldwide parts/service support should help fuel Allegro’s comeback. The company also will finish certification on the Sadler Vampire, another snazzy twin-boom project once declared DOA. Prices: $89,000 (Classic Trainer); $94,000 (Voyager); $99,000 (Executive).

Aerotrek Aircraft
Tackling the challenge of affordable flight translates to distributor-direct sales of the fun-flying, tube-and-fabric Aerotrek A220 taildragger and A240 tricycle-gear S-LSA. The lightweight (650-/585-pound useful load), jaunty models are built by Aeropro in Czech Republic and assembled in Indiana. Features include folding wings, 22.5-gallon capacity, 104-knot cruise and a design—based on the Avid Flyer and Kitfox homebuilts—that has been proven for over a quarter century. Price: $67,950.

RANS Designs
In true Wright Brothers fashion, Rans has built thousands of affordable, fun-flying recreational aircraft—and world-renowned recumbent bicycles—for 27 years. The innovative all-American company offers three S-LSA: the new S-19LS low-wing, aluminum monocoque cruiser with 111-knot cruise and 610-mile range; S-6LS Coyote II flivver (and its S-6ELS version at $63,000!)—nearly 2,000 flying worldwide since 1989!; and S-7LS Courier, a classic Cub-like tandem for fun flying, with enhancements such as five-foot-wide doors, spring steel gear and a light, snappy control feel. Coyote and Courier come as taildragger and tricycle. Dynon EFIS avionics are standard or optional equipment, depending on model. Price: $127,000 base (S-19LS); $99,000 base (S-6LS); $99,000 fully equipped (S-7LS).

IndUS Aviation
Originally designed by John Thorp and the precursor to none other than the legendary Piper Cherokee, the Thorpedo PT211 (Continental O-200) is the much-refined S-LSA version with redesigned interior: reclined seats, repositionable headrests, staggered seat backs and lumbar support for expanded shoulder and elbow room and bucket-seat-like feel. And you can open the canopy in flight! Price: $85,995 (Thorpedo PT); $95,995 (LP); $105,995 (PT211).


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