Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Light-Sport Chronicles: Reading The Tea Leaves

Some things to watch for...and watch out for

More Planes, More Schools
Over the last five years, Sweeney saw how sluggish most FBOs were to adopt LSA flight training. “But the outlook is now very strong,” he asserts. FBOs, previously reluctant to get burned by poor public support (remember the recreational license?), now see the handwriting on the hangar wall: The public is waking up to LSA and wants to get involved.

A recent shopping-mall exhibition in Denton, Texas, by U.S. Aviation Group makes the point: A Remos GX was on display for a month during the holidays, with knowledgeable staff present to answer questions. The result: 170 discovery flights sold, 130 solid leads on LSA partnership sales and several potential solo buyers! Call it the Flying Field of Dreams: If you mall it, they will come. Hey, there’s Kevin Costner, buzzing a herd of folks flocking to local LSA flight schools! Sorry…back to my guest pundit.

Sweeney also expects that the cost of owning an LSA (using disposable income) puts it into direct competition with other “powersports” vehicles, such as boats, Jet Skis, motorcycles and snowmobiles. “It’s something aviation always battles,” he says.

“Another expected boon to LSA flight training: Cessna’s King Schools–developed Skycatcher student pilot program, offered at Cessna Flight Centers. Instead of your only choices being the 100-year-old C-152 down the road, or an LSA 250 miles away, you’ll likely find local training.

“Advanced flight instruction also will grow. LSA are legal for private pilot training, too, if equipped for things like night flying and under-the-hood work. Students can take preliminary training for the private with less expense, then transfer to a GA plane, finish up and take their checkride.”

Sweeney envisions rental rates settling at around $90 to $100 per hour wet, since the high initial cost of LSA, whether school-owned or acquired through leaseback, has to be factored in.


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