Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Light-Sport Chronicles: Profiles In Vision: Dan Johnson, Part 2

Now-and-forever LSA: Whither goest the industry—and why?

We revisit the notion of the "cheap" LSA everyone believed would become reality 10 years ago, as the light-sport concept waited in the wings. My thoughts jump to three current ASTM-approved SLSA models: the Cheetah XLS, Rans S-6LS Coyote II and X-Air LS. They exemplify the lowest-cost "little airplane," not powered hang-glider, aircraft.

"Heck, look at Rans alone," says Dan. "They've been around almost 30 years and have 4,500 airplanes flying (kits and ready-built) with as good a safety record as any other brand. The S-6LS Coyote II carries an $83,000 flyaway price."

I chime in with the numbers for the X-Air LS and Cheetah: $59,995, $49,500 and $44,995, respectively. All three designs riff on 30-plus years of proven ultralight technology—aluminum tube frames, stabilized Dacron fabric skins and well-beyond-ultralight performance to boot: 85 to 110 mph cruise, excellent fuel economy and easy maintenance.

And consider this: fairly low-hour used versions are showing up for less. "In 2002," Dan says, "we figured the magic number was between 50 and 60,000 bucks. Roughly speaking, that's $62,000 to $75,000 in current dollar value.

"That's the number we have today, at the low end anyway! And the Cheetah is below the number we thought an LSA would sell for 10 years ago! Did people imagine prices would automatically drop, like electronics, which have millions upon millions of units produced?

"So while LSA may in truth be too expensive for your budget, they're certainly not too expensive for what they are: safe, durable flying machines that you can have a lot of fun in and go places in, too," Dan concludes.

Many thanks to Dan for his as-always-cogent look at the Picture Grande. Fly safe, have fun and remember: LSA symbolize a new age of exploring the envelope of the air, so get out there and claim your place in the sky!


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