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Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The LSA Boom!

Private and sport pilots alike have driven the market to new heights

The LSA BoomLooking back to Sun ‘n Fun 2005, it’s fair to say that was when the light sport aircraft bell was rung, and since then, they’ve been off to the races. In the short four months between early April and early August, 14 new aircraft received airworthiness certificates in the special light sport aircraft (S-LSA) category. Although several of these airplanes have been flying in Europe for years and the number of additional new aircraft receiving approval will certainly slow down over time, the figure is remarkable nonetheless.

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There are a number of organizations that went to bat to create a new category of airplanes and simplified rules for those who wish to fly them. Chief among them is EAA, and the name often associated with that effort is Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of government and industry relations. For several years, Lawrence has spearheaded EAA’s work with nascent industry groups and the FAA. Now, as the LSA and sport-pilot effort is a reality, Lawrence looks ahead to the next series of challenges that must be met to ensure that LSA will have staying power.

He cites the need to overcome some common misconceptions concerning flight training and designated pilot examiners (DPEs). “Every CFI in the country needs to understand that they’re already a sport-pilot instructor, that if they’re already qualified to instruct in single-engine land aircraft, they can instruct in an LSA single-engine land airplane.”

Lawrence also wants existing DPEs to be aware of how easy it is to add the sport-pilot examiner endorsement to their rating; it’s as simple as making a phone call and asking for the addition. That seems to be happening, as by mid-August, the number of DPEs endorsed to give ground and flight exams for LSA had quickly grown to 48.

For factory-built S-LSA and for E-LSA (usually kit versions of the same aircraft), the floodgates appear to have finally opened and, at least for a while, a rare combination of both a seller’s and buyer’s market may simultaneously exist (especially for patient buyers). The dealers claim they have reason for optimism, as long as they take good care of their customers, and that begins with their ability to deliver new airplanes. According to Joss Foss, “There’s no question about the market; it’s just a matter of being able to supply enough aircraft to keep from frustrating people.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Prices listed for light sport aircraft are base prices, and may not include shipping if the aircraft is imported from outside the United States. Additionally, some LSA pricing is tied to foreign currencies, so base prices can vary as exchange rates fluctuate. Like other aircraft, many of the models listed offer a list of options, including upgrades in engines and instrumentation. Use the information supplied in this article to contact manufacturers or United States distributors for light sport aircraft.

Labels: LSAsSport Pilots


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