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The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:18 pm
by cozy171bh
UCAP Gang,

There are a lot of LSA designs out there on the market. They come in a variety of designs, each suited to a specific kind of flying. I'm looking for help from the UCAP gang in deciding which LSA design is best suited to a flying club operation. The economics of the aircraft must make sense for use in a flying club. (I know – economic sense and aviation don't deserve to be in the same sentence, but humor me!) It must also be an appealing aircraft to a new generation of flyers, since it will be marketed to people new to aviation. (Like Jeb has insightfully suggested, we need airplanes which are modern and capable, offered by a flying school or club which has an appealing atmosphere. The days are over when we can expect someone to step out of their comfortable leather-lined Accord and pay $100 an hour to fly in an old Cherokee!) Here are some requirements:

1. This LSA needs to be rugged enough to withstand the rigors of flying club life. Not all club members treat equipment with care. Therefore, the designers mush have included ease of maintenance in the design.
2. It must be insurable at a reasonable rate.
3. It will be used for flight training as well as a rental aircraft.
4. Renters should find the LSA reasonably useful for cross country travel to leisure destinations, or to attend to business needs.
5. Based in the central Sacramento Valley, the performance should be sufficient to permit operation over mountainous terrain.
6. It's look and styling should appeal to those outside of aviation who might want to learn to fly, but who would be turned off by the prospect of training in a 35 year old Cessna 150 still in original paint with 300 series Cessna radios.
7. The manufacturer should be sufficiently financially stable so that I can expect them to survive to provide owner/operator support into the future.
8. No unusual flight characteristics. It will be a trainer. Also, for those joining the club with a typical Cessna-Piper-Beech background, they should find the aircraft an easy transition.
9. Since some LSA renters will be those of retirement age who want to transition to LSA rules before they develop a medical issue, the aircraft should not require a gymnastics routine just to get in and out of the thing!
10. Anything else you might suggest that I have not thought of.

Looking forward to your suggestions. Thanks in advance!


Re: The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:30 pm
by champguy
Just a thought
Turn the whole search around and find an insurance agent who will be writing the policy on what you get. He/she might have valuable insight.
Personally I shudder at the prospect of ordering a replacement for a mangled composit part from east overshoe, east europe. On the other hand you are correct that you won't get any traction with a proven, reliable, and reparable antique like the champ that is giving me so much fun.
good luck

Re: The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:46 am
by Dave Higdon
Brian, applause, applause for your effort; think too few people consider an idea like yours -- one with workable prospects based on the historical record of clubs and club airplanes.

Now, while my familiarity with many of the LSAs leans me a toward a couple of models, thought you might first find it useful to check out a highly helpful resource on LSAs, my long-, long-time friend and LSA expert Dan Johnson.

Dan's been involved in the light end of sport aviation since the birth of the hang gliding movement in the mid-1970s and has never moved off this segment. His site has a wealth of LSA information, flight reviews and a list of who sells best.

And here's where a recommendation seems fair -- at least in terms of the prospect of having to order parts from -- how did Champguy put it? -- "the prospect of ordering a replacement for a mangled composit part from east overshoe, east europe"...(very colorful, man ;) ). His point has merit.

But not all the LSA makers are in Europe; some nice ones are made right here in the U.S.; and if you check out the higher-selling companies and ask about their customer-support networks and parts availability you'll resolve some of your concerns right there. Not all of 'em are composite, of course, and even for those that are composite, repairs can be simpler because of that.

So consider starting a broad look at Dan's Web site -- they're pretty much all shown there -- and work backward through network, parts, service, costs and performance...

Finally, where the cross-country utility is concerned, my favorite reference point is the Grand Poobahs of the Entry Level GA airplane: Cessna's nearly ubiquitous 172 Skyhawk and Piper's Cherokee counterpart. These are generally 105-110 knot cruisers in the real world, and pilots (myself among them) have covered a lot of U.S. real estate at 105 knots...carrying two and luggage, just like a capable LSA. So it wouldn't put me off if an LSA model cruised at "only" 100, 105 knots...after all, the trip itself is a large part of the reward of flying.

Good luck -- and let us know how you progress.


Re: The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:00 pm
by champguy
Went flying today. Took a friend over Mary's Peak, one hour to Independance 7S5. He bought me gas, lunch, and had to return in a car, poor bugger.
There was a Gobosh on the field, and I don't care what the Old *arts say, that is a way cool plane. So far out of my league I can't stand it. These new LSA planes have just got to get people past the boreing old common sense of people like me. You go guy.

Re: The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 2:03 pm
by topilot
I would like to add my two cents into this thread as I just got a complete checkout in a SportCruiser LSA. I was so impressed with the SportCruiser that I have been considering getting a group of pilots together and purchasing one for a club. I'm a CFII&ME with over 12,000 hours logged that is 67 years young. My medical was up for renewal in June of 09 and even though I feel fit enough to pass, decided to postpone the AME office until I found out what flying an LSA was all about.

My checkout included a flight review and Wings signoff with the instructor. I found the aircraft to fit the bodies of the rather hefty CFI and myself better than a C152. The useful load proved to be very acceptable and the speed comparable to a C172. The SportCruiser I flew had a decent panel of avionics that included a Garmin 296, SL30, Xponder and Trutec autopilot. I was told before I flew the aircraft that it would be very sensitive to control input, but found it to be easy to transition to. The slow flight, stalls and airwork were a non event and fun to experience in a much slower and lighter aircraft. I loved the pattern work with cross wind, short and soft field takeoffs and landings. A normal landing with this aircraft is almost dead stick all the way from abeam of the numbers to touch down.

So without flying any other aircraft, I would almost easily consider a SportCruiser. I know that you can get a full glass panel as an option, but the aircraft I flew had traditional instruments. There is also the option of emergency chute, but it would cut down on the useful load. I can't say that I know much about either the repairability or issurance aspects of the aircraft, but do believe it has a good and solid reputation especially since some new management has taken over the company. A newer version has been arriving in the states that has had some modifications to some of the earlier issues.

As Dave as suggested, visit Dan Johnson's website. I found his site to be an excellent source for LSA information. I am going to do a lot of research before I begin my plan to form a club, but that is my ultimate goal. Good luck! By the way, a pilot can actually get an instrument rating in a properly equipped LSA including the check ride. I would highly recommend, however that he/she interweave some actual cloud time in a Part 23 aircraft before getting a signoff. The fact that an LSA can be used for instrument training can cut down the cost quite a bit if economics are to be a big consideration.
Tom Gilmore, MCFI

Re: The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:09 pm
by PilotBillFromTexas
I think that every time we get a guy like Tom to step over in a positive way to Sport Pilot flying that it adds a bit more credibility to the sport pilot license. Once that critical mass has been reached then we'll start to see the overall attitude of people change to accept sport pilot as the first legitimate rung on the ladder.

Re: The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 4:51 pm
by topilot
This coming week I am getting a demo flight in a Flight Design CTLS along with a tour in Sebring, FL. After doing more research since my last post, this aircraft is moving into the shortlist of aircraft that might fit the needs of my intended purchase for a club or joint ownership aircraft. It has a high wing (great for the Florida sunny days), impressive useful load, very impressive range and Flight Design has over 300 aircraft flying in the US. One of the highest number of time tested LSA aircraft in the air!

A new metal model MC is about to be launched that is targeting for flight schools. The aircraft comes with an impresseive list of options that is included in the base price. Most purchasers are ordering their aircraft loaded and they have a great owner blog that potential purchasers can check out.

I will report more detail on this plane as to how it will fit a flying club in the near future.
Happy Flying, Tom

Re: The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2009 1:08 pm
by rcigliano
My quick 2 cents....

You can get your Private Pilot certificate in an LSA. A friend of mine is doing just that, in a Tecnam P92 Eaglet, which I mention in episode 2 of The New Pilot PodBlog podcast ( (shameless plug). :oops:

I also fly the Eaglet. We both rent from Mid Island Air Service ( out of Brookhaven. On the line, they have 2 Eaglets (and buying more), 1 Tecnam Sierra and a recently purchased Sport Cruiser, with a glass panel (what a cool looking plane). These planes are used for both instruction and rental.

As Dave and Tom mentions, these planes are easy to fly (their light weight really forces you to be a good crosswind pilot, not a bad thing), they have descent useful load and are great for cross-countries. They might fly slower than a Diamondstar or Cirrus (slightly faster than a Cherokee), but they will be able to get in and out of a lot more air fields than the faster, higher performing planes. They have great climb performance, low stall speed, shorter take-offs and landing than most of the typical trainers.

BTW, The Tecnams are made of metal.

Re: The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:08 am
by Soccer-Jock
Tom - I'm very interested in your comments about the Flight Design CTLS.

There are three LSAs that have my attention, but I have done no research on and I have yet to fly: Flight Design CTLS, the Remos GX, and the KitFox.
The new Icon is a head turner, and the fact that it's an amphib is very interesting... but it doesn't look like the "average man" will get his hands on a real one 'til some time in 2012.

Anyway. Please do write about your thoughts. I'm quite interested.

Re: The "Best" LSA for a Flying Club?

Posted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:14 pm
by topilot
I am glad to continue with my report on flying and evaluating LSA. A flying buddy (Turbo Ed who had previoulsy flown Jack in his R44) made the flight to Sebring to evaluate the Flight Design CT. John Hurst, the sales rep for Sebring Aviation, provided us a great demo experience and I was impressed with the Flight Design. This bird was loaded starting at the top of the panel with a G496 and working on down to a TruTrac autopilot. I must say that I found the handling qualities somewhat undesireable in the fact that there was a lag to the heavy input needed for bank. Pitch control seemed mostly conventional. Our airowork included slow flight, stalls (hardly a break) and steep turns. We then worked our way back to the pattern for some touch and goes. The CT was easy to setup and confure for the three circuits we made. I notice that the same type of dead stick process seems to work for most LSA models as long as the aircraft is number one to land. Chop the power to idle opposite the numbers and glide to the flare. The sight picture to perform a greased on landing is easy, so I don't think anyone who is transitioning from Part 23 GA SEL aircraft will have a problem.

Turbo Ed had an opportunity to fly the Lockwood SkyCam twin and was still hyped after we met up for lunch in the terminal. He said it was like flying on a flying carpet. Lockwood gave him a great video. You can probably get one by googling the site. The Sebring terminal resturant has great food!

We were about ready to leave when we noticed a loaded Tecnam Sierra 2006 sitting in the hanger. Turbo asked John, "hey, do you mind giving Tom a demo in the Sierra". John immediately had the plane dragged out of the hanger and we did a long demo flight. The Tecnam is made in Italy and it really impressed me more than the Flight Design CT. I feel that it flies and handles more like a conventional aircraft. I was informed that the Tecnam Sierra with the Rotax 912s and proper instrument panel can also be flown in IFR if the pilot is rated and instrument rated. My thoughts now are more focused on the Sierra, especially after making a presentation at our local flying club meeting and getting the pulse of the members to build a club around an LSA.

I hope this helps anyone reading this thread to make a educated decision for an LSA purchase. I can see that more research needs to be done and I plan to attend the AOPA Summit to further my knowledge and get more demo flights, especially in a Remos. The sales rep has already called me to setup a flight.