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Pros & Cons of adding LSA to Flying Club fleet?

Posted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:52 pm
by Chuck
Has anyone gone through the pros and cons of adding a light sport aircraft to a flying club fleet?

I belong to a flying club that has a fleet of Cessnas (152, a couple 172s and three 182s). The subject has come up about adding a LSA, but not much action has been taken. Club members have informally talked about the high capital cost, insurance, and maintenance of airframe, engine and avionics. Then there is the intangible of whether or not a LSA will draw new members into the club.

If anyone has actual experience, or at least some thoughts, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Posted: Sat Mar 29, 2008 4:24 pm
by scottj
4 gallons of gas per hour
"new" technology in the cockpit (i.e. glass)
Flying a new airplane vs. one older than me
Faster than a C-172 in cruise
Range farther than most light airplanes (34 gallon tanks)
Fun to fly
Fun to fly and that will increase usage by existing members
Fun to fly and that will increase membership and new members
Safe to fly, sturdy, BRS equipped
$ 99,000 - new - I will deliver and teach you to fly it. $ 98,000 if you pick it up.

What was your other question?

Posted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:39 am
by Jim Stewart
My instructor has been running closer to 2.5-3 gallons/hour for pattern work and slow crosscountry in his Sportstart.

Posted: Sun Mar 30, 2008 5:44 pm
by Chuck
Scott, you make me smile!

Anyone else have some experience or thoughts?

Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:25 am
by MikeM
Upside: It's a new airplane. Operating costs low. Modern instrument panel (flat glass if so equipped). Something like a Flight Design CTLS will appeal to private pilots, they might even prefer to fly it over a bigger Cessna. Older pilots with lapsed medicals will line up to fly it.

Downside: It's a new airplane and it's not inexpensive to buy. I don't know what insurance costs might be compared to other aircraft. Resale value is an unknown right now.

I'm no expert, these are just my opinions. I'm sure other folks can add more to the discussion. All I know is that if a local flying club had a light sport available I would give serious thought to joining.

Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 2:29 pm
by Chuck
Mike, your last statement says a lot. We currently have 87 members and need 9 more to have a full membership. Do you think a LSA would bring in the younger pilots and keep some of those more mature pilots?

Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:07 pm
by MikeM
I can only speak from my own perspective and from the things that I have seen while doing my training, but it seems that there is a real interest in LSAs. I was motivated to pursue my Light Sport license because there was a local flight school offering rentals in LSAs after I got my ticket. I know one person who dropped out of a casual partnership on a Cessna 172 and now does his flying in a rented LSA. He is working towards his commercial and will eventually buy his own airplane, but found it cheaper to rent in the mean time.

I have seen older pilots who have allowed their medical to lapse stop in the flight school and inquire about getting checked out in the Flight Design CT that they are instructing in. Right now the flight school has 6-8 students in various stages of their training and only one has plans to buy a LSA when he gets his license. The rest will probably rent an airplane, and many will work towards their private ticket.

New LSA are too expensive for many pilots or aspiring flyers. I would think that membership in a flying club that has an LSA would give many of them the chance to have an airplane available to them. I don't know the business end of having a LSA in a flying club, although the LSA that my local flight school has is renting for $80 an hour. Just my two cents.

Hi Brian!

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:13 am
by Chuck
Mike, I appreciate your 2 cents.

Anyone else with 2 cents out there?

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:06 pm
by CTflyer
Not sure if this is what you're asking, but I would have joined a flying club in a New York minute if it had a renter LSA. Unfortunately, my local club said they couldn't afford the insurance for an LSA, and even if they could, they'd only let full PPL pilots with 100+ hours fly it. Talk about a Catch 22!

So two answers: yes - the idea of an LSA made joining a club very appealing to me. And also no - the club said it couldn't afford the insurance unless only experienced PPL pilots were allowed to fly it.


Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:28 pm
by Chuck
Tom, it sounds like insurance for a club's LSA may be a key.

Does anyone have experience with insuring a LSA for a flying club's use?


Flying club - start an LLC

Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:20 pm
by JRamos9920
I've spoken with several flying clubs... best thing for your club - start an LLC!! This way you have the plane in the name of a company with very minimal liability for many users of the aircraft! Insurance wise, this is the way to go.

I don't know how you figured maintenance and operating cost as a problem with LSA against a 152 or 172. We are authorized dealers of Remos and Jabiru LSA here.. for our Remos GX:

2.39 gallons of gas burn per hour
$8.87 per hour maintenance

I'm only giving up that much sacred info.. the total numbers on the spreadsheet come out to half the cost of flying and maintaining of a 152.

John Ramos

Posted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:05 pm
by Jim Stewart
I've joined the local university flying club in addition to owning my own CTSW. The flying club is an authorized Cessna training center and has a Skycatcher on order. They said that the Cessna training agreement locks them into Cessna products and it would be a huge problem to field an LSA other than Cessna.

Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:12 am
by rfane
Jim Stewart wrote:The flying club is an authorized Cessna training center and has a Skycatcher on order. They said that the Cessna training agreement locks them into Cessna products and it would be a huge problem to field an LSA other than Cessna.

One of the FBO's at Reid Hillview (KRHV) just put a Remos GX online. They are a Cessna dealer, maintenance facility, and training center. The owner told me that Cessna doesn't have an LSA for him yet, so he doesn't expect it to be an issue. He has deposits on 12 Skycathchers, which he expects to have 2 of them online for rental and training, once he gets them.

Clubs, schools and the Skycatcher

Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:50 am
by JRamos9920
I've spoken with at least 10 flight schools who have Skycatchers on order. The aircraft has had orders for 2 years with not one delivery. There have been 2 crashes in testing. The first projected delivery of the aircraft is this december to only a small percentage of people who have orders in.

My feelings on Cessna pilot centers and the Skycatcher are this:
The Skycatcher is an easy excuse for a school or company to fufill their requirements to Cessna by means of a deposit instead of purchasing a plane outright.
With all due respect to Cessna, there is always the slim chance that Skycatcher program never even gets off the ground. Some Skycatchers are not even due for delivery until '11.

This thing about Cessna pilot centers being 100% bound to Cessna aircraft in my opinion, is myth.
Once a company fufills their requirements to Cessna based on whatever is in their agreement they are free and clear to purchase or have leasebacks of any other type of aircraft they want.

It's a shame that LSA has to be "put on hold" by such a large reputable company.


Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:35 pm
by AZPilot
A couple of points:

A CPC must have a 162 or 172 on line or on order to qualify as a CPC. Had to be less than 2 years old (don't know if that's changed in the last couple of years).

CPCs get "commissions" for leads that result in the sale of a new Cessna product. (This is a good incentive for flightschools to be CPCs)

CPCs get student leads through Cessna's markting efforts.(Good incentive)

This is the USA. Cessna, or any other manufacturer, can't force you at gunpoint to use their products exclusively. They can however offer the above "incentives". A flightschool can opt out and go on their merry way.

Cessna is liability-centric. They are testing the 162 to Part 23 standards, even though they won't be Part 23 certified.

I think that having a good quality LSA from one of the "top tier" manufacturers would be a plus for a flightline as it should expand the customer base. (Even more if your insurance carrier will allow no-medical rentals).

After the "buy in" cost of any airplane, insurance cost and minimum requirements (pilot warranty)for rental is the next big hurdle.

Do your research, both on the aircraft manufacturer that you are interested in AND talk to your insurance carrier to see what they have in mind.