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LSA Durability

Posted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:40 am
by cozy171bh
I recently had a conversation with a pilot friend of mine from the Midwest. He works for a large flying school which provides a lot of training to people from Europe who come to America to get their ratings and certificates for a fraction of the cost of doing so in the Old World. The school also offered an LSA training program for those seeking the Light Sport certificate. Unfortunately, the LSAs they operated were not durable enough for the flight training / rental environment. After repeated down time due to landing gear issues they sold their LSAs and quit offering the Sport Pilot program. I do not recall the particular type LSA they operated, but I know they had two types in operation.

It will be interesting to see whether the LSAs prove to be durable enough for a role as a rental or trainer. Maybe Dave has a feel for the durability of the Sky Catcher. With Cessna engineering and metal construction, it may prove more durable than the competition and remain one of the few in production in another decade or so as the market matures. We'll see....

Re: LSA Durability

Posted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:52 pm
by baswell
It completely depends on the type; you can not generalize.

Here in Australia, we are probably quite a bit ahead of you in terms of number of FTFs training in these kinds of aircraft, which we call ultralights, but they are all the same aircraft.

Schools have figured out which ones last and which don't. I don't like them for other reasons, but our home-grown Jabirus are very hard to bend for a student. They are by far the number one training aircraft here.

One school close by has thousands of hours on half a dozen SportStars, on their rough grass strip without any issues. My own SportStar has about 1200 training hours on it and never had any gear problems.

However, those who have tried training using the otherwise excelent Texan LSA will tell you the gear doesn't like being put down hard.

For any operator in the US trying to decide which LSA to buy for training, they would do themselves a big favor and have a look at the years of experience we have here.

Re: LSA Durability

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:24 pm
by Dave Higdon
Baswell hit it on the head...been that way for a long time, too, and not a recent issue that came into being with the LSA category...

Knew a CFI that wanted to build his business teaching in his own little Grumman two-place bird; nice airplane, too -- quick for the horsepower, nice handling, economical...but the airplane didn't bear up to the training and the guy eventually decided getting a 150 was a better alternative than having his personal airplane beaten senseless by some of his...well, less deft, shall we say, students.

The European versions of some of these planes have been around for many, many years and subjected to flight training hours by the thousands over on the Continent; one Flight Design CT in Europe has been used for training for several thousand hours with nothing more than normal maintenance and engine overhauls...but Diamond's lovely little DA20 Katana, a solid FAR 23 airplane, did not bear up well as a trainer for a large flight-training organization, much of it because of the nose gear and its susceptibility to breakage when wheel-barreled on landing...same problem exists for the large magnesium-alloy casting used on the nose gear of the Beech A-23 Musketeer, which is subject to cracking and failure if mistreated...

The list goes's an issue for specific LSAs and not an LSA-in-general problem.

Unfortunately, with more than 100 models coming to market in five years, it's hard to know which are ones with great records to begin with among the evolved models -- and probably 25 percent are new designs with little or no track record to weigh...that will change with time and with people keeping an open mind about the category.


Re: LSA Durability

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:45 pm
by champguy
There is a reason C-150s were built the way they were, and why they are so heavy. And they can be resold to the next guy to do it all over again when you are ready to move up to the LSA you want.
Unless you flat can't get a third class medical, a self owned 150 is hands down the cheapest way to get in the air.

Re: LSA Durability

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:03 pm
by baswell
champguy wrote:Unless you flat can't get a third class medical, a self owned 150 is hands down the cheapest way to get in the air.

Unless: a) you don't fit in one - many people don't or b) for some reason you can't or don't want to get a full private license!

Re: LSA Durability

Posted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:01 pm
by jackhodgson
champguy wrote:... a self owned 150 is hands down the cheapest way to get in the air.

My problem is, to paraphrase Dave, my favorite airplane is the one right in front of me.

I've been having small regrets lately that I didn't think more seriously about scooping up the C150 that I talked about a couple months ago, up at Sanford Maine.

I had been thinking that when it got to be spring I would revisit the aircraft. But...

The FBO/owner finally listed it in Trade-a-Plane. It instantly got a half dozen inquiries, and was bought, sight-unseen, by a guy down in NY.

Ah well, live and learn.

Re: LSA Durability

Posted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:05 pm
by champguy
If you are going to fly, you are going to go with what you got. And what you got is what you could buy the day you needed a plane. Put all the cash you got and can borrow in your pocket and it takes about a week to find a way to spend it. There are plenty of good old planes out there.
One Fifties are old, disrepitable, and uncomfortable. But if you don't load them up with fancy paint and do dads in the panel, they fly on forever. Find an old straight tail with Johnson Bar flaps and still holding compression and if you run it hard it will deliver, until you can afford better.
Park it out of sight and at the bar just tell them you flew in, not what you flew in. Let someone else buy the next round.

Re: LSA Durability

Posted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:30 pm
by PilotBillFromTexas
I saw the absolute best example of a straight tail C-150 I have ever seen and I would be willing to say probably exists. It has a brand new engine, new upholstery, very nice radios, I think he said autopilot. And, it is for sale.

It is being sold by Pilotony's friend. He said that he was trying to get 28 AMU's for it. I have no doubt that it is probably worth it.

Re: LSA Durability

Posted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:51 am
by Dave Higdon
With all due respect to everyone, the license you go for should be the one that fits your needs...if Sport Pilot will cover it -- and know many a guy for whom it will and/or does -- and you can find the instruction, by all means, go for it; try to find a normally rated CFI, though, so there will be no questions about your dual time counting toward a private certificate should the time come when your wants/needs change.

As for the, there are so many, many ways to go, and go inexpensively, as in down to unbelievably inexpensive; and some of the LSAs go for well under six figures, providing an option more affordable than others for owning a brand-new bird, if that's what you want and you can write the checks.

Just resist like crazy the contention that there's only one right way or only one right airplane for starting; humans are far to varied and our choices of options in instruction and aircraft reflect that variety...

Main thing is: Get out and do it.