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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Now And Future LSA

An overview: Five years in, LSA are hanging in there

A Full Basket
Perhaps the glory of LSA is its sheer “robustitude.” More airplanes will come online this year, more spectacular flights will be made to prove the category’s potential, and avionics makers like Garmin, Dynon, MSL, Grand Rapids, Advanced Flight Systems and others will keep coming out with amazing glass display panels.

Increasingly, LSA are equipped with advanced glass displays; above, Dynon’s SkyView system in a Flight Design CTLS.
Two highlights that started out 2010 were Dynon’s SkyView system (with its incredible 3-D display) and Garmin’s G3X, both of which drew big attention at Sebring.

In the flight drama department, two South African pilots flew their own LSA design (now in production) around the world, after stopping at Oshkosh. Another couple of intrepid aviators flew coast to coast in 19 hours. This year, several flights using LSA to gain attention for worthy causes are planned.

Longtime kit-builder Vans is looking into producing its RV-12 E-LSA kit (338 sales to date, with 17 flying) as an S-LSA. Electric aircraft are works in progress to keep your eye on; particularly, the Yuneec E430, Yuneec eSpyder ultralight developed by Flight Design USA’s Tom Peghiny, Randall Fishman’s ElectraFlyer-C and new ElectraFlyer-X, and the Sonex Waiex. There’s even the Terrafugia LSA autocar, which finished its proof-of-concept phase and is being redesigned for first flights sometime next year.

More LSA are available for rentals, but you can typically expect five-hour checkout rides before you can fly one solo. Also keep alert for local LSA shows: many more LSA events mushroomed at airports and even shopping malls last year, with more expected for 2010. There’s more—a whole lot more—to say about LSA for the year to come. The first five years have been a wild ride. Only time will tell what’s to come.

More airplanes will come online this year, more spectacular flights will be made to prove the category’s potential...

But with Piper coming on board with its PiperSport, and Cessna finally getting Skycatchers out the hangar door later this year, look for this to be a solid year for LSA. These two market heavyweights know the turf, and how to seed fertile ground. And there’s definitely no shortage of pilots who are eager to get their share of fun flying.


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