Tuesday, December 7, 2010
LSA Buyer's Guide
Time for young (and old) pilots’ fancies to turn skyward with 30+ sport planes
Birds To Watch
|With 80-odd S-LSA models still on the list, we can’t do justice to them all. Still, the following deserve attention for a variety of reasons: expected production debuts, recent surge in sales, compelling features, affordability and more.
|Excluding airplanes dedicated primarily to fun flying in one form or another and those directed at utility operation, there are only two, two-seat models devoted to flight training. Pilots do buy these efficient models for personal transport, but the airplanes’ main function is most often pilot education.|
|One If By Land...
Look this year or to early 2012 for two significant deliveries: the much-ballyhooed Terrafugia Transition Roadable LSA and the Icon A5 amphib. The production version of the Transition is now a legal 1,430 pounds gross weight. Road trials and production tooling are in progress. Projected Price: $200-$250K. www.terrafugia.com
The amphibious Icon A5 is also wrapping its test program and tooling up for production. It first flew in July 2008. Futuristic design and luxury auto-like interior make this one to watch, with several hundred presales already. Estimated Price: $139,000. www.iconaircraft.com
Meanwhile, the upstart Maverick flying dune buggy, using a huge paraglider wing, was developed for missionary work in countries with remote areas and bad roads. It has already won ASTM certification, costs a third of what the Transition will and should ship this year. Projected Price: $84,000. www.mavericklsa.com
The lovely SeaMax, made in Brazil with composite construction, sports a spacious 47-inch cabin and 25 gallons fuel for extended range. Price: $145,000. www.seamaxusa.com
Four head-turners to watch: Arion Lightning, Renegade Falcon 2.0 and the Fk-Lightplanes models Fk9 Mk V (known as the ELA in Europe) and the Fk12 Comet biplane aerobat.
The composite-built Lightning racked up a flurry of sales in 2010, thanks to sleek, gorgeous styling and impressive avionics packages. Base Price: $98,900. www.flylightning.net
Renegade’s anticipated revitalizing of the dormant Falcon LS revolves around the new Lycoming IO-233 LSA engine and sensuous curves to make a belly dancer envious, not to mention a competitive price point. Projected price: $125,000. www.renegadelightsport.com
Another major sleeper is the German-made Fk-series. The Mk V (and Comet aerobatic biplane) deserves more attention than it has received so far. Anticipated Base Price: $102,000 (Fk9 Mk V); $107,000 (Fk12 Comet). www.hansenairgroup.com
For those on a microbrewery budget, and these days that’s a lot of us, don’t overlook the X-Air LS and Rainbow Cheetah XLS, two ultralight-style tube-and-fabric “flyabouts” with fun flying pedigree, worthy features and notably low prices. Prices: $59,995 (X-Air LS); $53,000 (Cheetah XLS). www.x-airlsa.com
A real low-price leader is the venerable CGS Hawk Arrow II, a pioneering three-axis ultralight in the 1980s, and now a lightweight S-LSA as well as a kitplane. Price: $44,995. www.cgsaviation.com
Cloud Ship Dreamer
Last but miles above least is the newly certified Phoenix, an incredibly attractive, side-by-side S-LSA motorglider. Superclean, super-performing with a 32:1 glide angle, 1,200 fpm climb, 115-knot cruise and 612-pound useful load...oh boy, oh boy! Price: Yet to be determined. www.phoenixairusa.com
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Labels: Aviation Resources, Buying A Plane, Decision Making, Features, Pilot Guide, Pilot Resources, Staying Current, Best Buys, New Aircraft, What's New, Aircraft, Aircraft Ownership