The Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) rule is coming up on its 8th birthday, and that seems as good a time as any to reflect on the successes and failures of LSAs and the Sport Pilot license. Promoters of the rule argued that a simpler category of aircraft with less FAA oversight would drastically cut the cost of flying, and in doing so open up personal aviation to more people than ever before. The rule was adopted in September 2004 with much fanfare.
Eight years later, the results are mixed. On the plus side, the number of LSAs has exploded, with manufacturers ranging from tiny Eastern European companies to Cessna Aircraft. And most LSAs are indeed 30-50% less expensive than entry-level certified airplanes. Flight schools have adopted LSAs quickly, with many renting for under $100/hour wet. Finally, many pilots can fly these airplanes without a Third Class Medical.
But not all is rosy. Quality seems to vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer, and some models of LSA hardly sell at all. The dream of a sub-$100,000 airplane simply hasn’t come true (expect to pay $150,000 for many popular models). Some pilots also find the 1320 lb. maximum weight limit to be overly restrictive.
What do you think–has the LSA rule been a success? Has the introduction of LSAs attracted new people to aviation? Or is it a failure? Share your comments below.
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