No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby drseti » Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:44 am

Nomore767 wrote: I actually think the manufacturers are crazy not to spend a few more of their precious dollars on 'selling' renting, owning, & the whole Light Sport mission and it's capabilities.


Howard, I naively thought Cessna would do exactly that through their Flight Centers, when they introduced the SkyCatcher. What a big disappointment they turned out to be! :(
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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby 3Dreaming » Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:47 am

For a look on the bright side. I'm teaching a ground school night class at the local junior college. Of my 10 students half are under age 20, and seem to be really interested in flying.

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby Merlinspop » Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:57 am

drseti wrote: So, how do we get the word out about affordable LSA rentals, without driving up the cost of those rentals??

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube. Beg for "likes", "favorites" and "retweets".

Nomore767 wrote:Legend for example 'sells' the …just like the old days, low n slow, we fixed the Cub schtick…and then parks it's 'every man's' Cub on the ramp with a price tag up to $160k. But it's got an autopilot and a Garmin electronic cockpit! Um, okay…To be fair they sell a bare basics one…it's just not at the show. Instead the 'electric Cub' on floats.
So, disconnect…in my view.

Remember a few years ago that Legend announced a bare-bones Legend Cub. Only had a door on one side. Only the bare minimum steam gauges, radio, transponder and starter. They priced it at just enough of a profit to keep the lights on. They sold exactly ZERO of them.

There are folks who make LSAs that are bare-bones. The former "fat ultralights". I don't know if they had much of a presence at Sebring. I suspect the high cost of displaying there kept a lot of them away, and that's a real shame.
- Bruce

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby Nomore767 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:03 am

drseti wrote:
Nomore767 wrote: I actually think the manufacturers are crazy not to spend a few more of their precious dollars on 'selling' renting, owning, & the whole Light Sport mission and it's capabilities.


Howard, I naively thought Cessna would do exactly that through their Flight Centers, when they introduced the SkyCatcher. What a big disappointment they turned out to be! :(


You got that right!

Originally, I looked at Cessna because…well, they're Cessna! I've become hugely frustrated and disappointed in them since.

The whole Skycatcher thing is a debacle. They had the potential to seize the Light Sport mission and run with it. Instead the suits have taken over, and they appear to have undermined their own sales departments.

In my view they don't have any product that a middle class American can hope to buy or learn to fly in (other than the tired planes at most airports).

Skycatcher's dead, Skyhawk is basically the plane that only large training schools can buy, the Skylane is out because they price it so high that no-one can afford to buy the plane and save on lower Jet-A fuel for the diesel….so you're left with, a Citation.

Crazy sad.

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby Nomore767 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:11 am

Bruce,

You're right about Legend…but the thing is they're 'selling' the 'old days of Cubs and grass strips, the smell of the grass on a sunny day' stuff…but in a world of TFRs, glass cockpits and no grass trips other than private ones.

They don't seem to 'sell' the training experience enough for a young kid who will say one day "I learned to fly in a legend Cub".

At the Legend booth I spoke with a Florida dealer who seemed indifferent to it all. He said there's a big grass trip in SC, where I live…Triple Tree. Um yeah…a nice private strip with a huge runway that is famed for it's annual fly-in 3 hours from me.

Its a lovely plane don't get me wrong…but it has a tendency to be nose heavy (many have tipped on their nose), has a high empty weight and I gave up trying to talk with a legend person at the show or get a demo.

Not sour grapes…just saying from being there.

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby dstclair » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:21 am

Not all areas are LSA and SP challenged. The DFW area has at least 5 flight schools that promote SP with fleets ranging from 1 to 5 LSAs.

Community College is an interesting angle. Just found out yesterday my daughter is enrolling in a CC ground school this summer. Zero encouragement from me although she's been flying right seat with me since she was 4.
dave

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby Merlinspop » Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:36 pm

Nomore767 wrote:Bruce,

You're right about Legend…but the thing is they're 'selling' the 'old days of Cubs and grass strips, the smell of the grass on a sunny day' stuff…but in a world of TFRs, glass cockpits and no grass trips other than private ones.

They don't seem to 'sell' the training experience enough for a young kid who will say one day "I learned to fly in a legend Cub".

At the Legend booth I spoke with a Florida dealer who seemed indifferent to it all. He said there's a big grass trip in SC, where I live…Triple Tree. Um yeah…a nice private strip with a huge runway that is famed for it's annual fly-in 3 hours from me.

Its a lovely plane don't get me wrong…but it has a tendency to be nose heavy (many have tipped on their nose), has a high empty weight and I gave up trying to talk with a legend person at the show or get a demo.

Not sour grapes…just saying from being there.


Oh, no... I agree with you completely. I've exchanged many emails with them in the past (they don't reply any more ;-) ). They seem to be focused on the "I learned to fly in a cub, but I'm too old to swing a prop" demographic. They've completely given the young, adventurous demographic over to Cub Crafters. Compare websites. Compare forums (Legend has a sub-forum on a J-3 focused site. It's laughable how anyone who writes to express interest in the Legend gets bashed by J-3 guys for wanting to buy a "$100K starter"). Compare YouTube presence. Compare customer service and how they handle issues. CC recently put out a "stop flying" Safety Alert due to a tail brace wire issue. The general manager, R&D manager and a few other were constantly updating owners on the issue, engineering progress, flight testing and now manufacturing and replacement kit fulfillment. What could have really blown up in their faces turned out as well as it possibly could because of how they handled their customers. The *get it*. Legend doesn't. The Super Legend was certified at least a year later than initially announced. How many times did a person from Legend give an update on "their" forum? Not once. If I were buying, it would without question be a CC11-100 Sport Cub, even though I prefer the J-3 look of the Legend.
- Bruce

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby Nomore767 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:17 pm

Bruce,

Totally agree! Whilst I really like the 'look' of the Legend, Cub Crafters are top notch. I've a few hours in the Sport Cub and it's a very nice airplane. I prefer the toe brakes to the Legend's heel brakes mainly because the heel brakes seem to make folks over brake and cause some tip overs.

I contacted Legend before Sebring to see if I could arrange a time slot in their demo schedule. The answer just said…"See you there!". Okay, so i went to their booth a few time and never found a Legend employee and was told by a dealer they'd be back. Anyway, never did a demo. I don't think too many others did either judging by the few times I saw it airborne.
Before the show I asked whether the Super Cub would be there and was told yes. In the end I think it 'might' have been at the seaplane base on floats, I dunno.

I know I'm griping and I apologize but I guess I just don't get the point of promoting the 'back to the roots' idea and then not following it up.
In the 'old days' people were told anyone can learn to fly in a Cub, and anyone did. These days, not so much.

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby MovingOn » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:23 pm

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Last edited by MovingOn on Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby Merlinspop » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:05 pm

Rare is there such a direct Apples to Apples comparison available. It's easy to see who is in the Total Customer Satisfaction business and who isn't.
- Bruce

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby dstclair » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:15 pm

For you Cub fans, here's a recent review of Rans new S-20 from a long-term J-3 owner: http://www.avweb.com/blogs/insider/RANS ... 290-1.html. The conclusion:

In its fly-away LSA form, the S-20 will be in the mid $120,000s fully equipped, which is typical of what LSAs in the class cost. I’ve already explained in detail why I think these prices are about what they should be, given the cost of building new airplanes in a market that can’t sustain volume. If you want to rage about how outrageous that price is, be my guest. But by now, it’s a lost cause, I’m afraid.

For a third as much, you can find a nice, restored Cub that will be a terrific fun flyer. But in the end, the S-20 is just a faster, more comfortable and more sophisticated airplane. It’s not just incrementally better, it’s a lot better. And seriously, if 75 years of progress didn’t make it so, it would be scandalous indeed.
dave

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby Merlinspop » Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:10 pm

dstclair wrote:For you Cub fans, here's a recent review of Rans new S-20 from a long-term J-3 owner: http://www.avweb.com/blogs/insider/RANS ... 290-1.html.

Yeah... I'm drawn to the rag and tube cub-type tandem seating taildragger. My oldest son and wife, having learned that they don't like sitting behind the operator of a motorcycle, would prefer a side-by-side seating. The S-20, Kitfox, Highlander genre accommodate their desire. IF I didn't commute a minimum 4 hours a day, I would consider cleaning out the 3 car garage and start a kit. I'll be 50 in March and I'd like to think I could have it done before I turn 60 (might be close). By then, the oldest will be out of college and the youngest will be a teenager.
- Bruce

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby Jack Tyler » Sat Jan 25, 2014 7:10 am

Howard, I think you are not only our 'test case' but you've migrated up the learning curve to arrive at the current state of the LSA industry. But the industry itself has been on a path of its own which your recent entry probably doesn't encompass.

1. There clearly has been a bootstrapping problem from Day 1. The initial LSA industry was immature. Initial competition in the marketplace was high and then it grew fearsome, so collaboration for the benefit of all was sacrificed in favor of a zero sum game. And there was little marketing money available to most mfgrs. and importers to create the message needed.

2. "The vast majority of the audience at Sebring was made up of older white guys. Very few women and very few minorities..."
Welcome to Recreational Aviation 2014. Nothing is more concerning than attending one of the huge fly-ins or shows and looking at the crowd. One of my best experiences these days has been spending time with & encouraging two young African American guys who are pursuing flying careers with much enthusiasm and great success...but they are the exception. But this isn't an LSA thing; it serves as a brake on that slice of the GA industry like it does everywhere else. Thankfully, this isn't what I see when I spend time in USN training commands thanks to my son; at least the military has figured out how to be more inclusive.

3. "There were many things that could have been there…aircraft financing, insurance, the costs of owning/operating etc. Maybe they were but I didn't see them. Nothing from any place that operates a flight school which rents LSAs as opposed to owning."
If you had been at Expo five years ago, you would have found all that. Back then, there was far more of a 'build it and they will come' mindset. SP training programs were springing up, training fleets were being built, and there were even Mom & Pop SP training programs promoting themselves. But there were already intervening issues not unlike the dinosaur's tail dying that hadn't yet registered in the beast's brain. The economy was a big impediment to the LSA industry's development accelerating, the SP issuances were quite low after an initial spurt (and still are), and the marketplace was increasingly competitive and so fragmented.

4. No workshops on ownership, buying, insuring, hangars etc."
Again, the industry started out in a very immature form and never really grew beyond that as a whole. LAMA couldn't get off the ground, IMO the alphabet orgs were pretty passive in their support (GAMA, EAA, AOPA) except where there was a fit with their core mission, and so the kinds of developmental programs you mention lacked broad sponsorship.

5. "To me the big disconnect is that Light Sport isn't fulfilling it's own 'mission'….no young people can find many schools or LSAs to rent and learn to fly in."
As you've probably noticed during your tenure here, that side of the bootstrapping issue has plagued the SP training and LSA sales activities since Day 1. It's a chicken/egg dilemma that affects potentially interested PPL pilots and potential students of all ages. There are pockets of activity which feed its own success but they typically exist only in some high population density areas.

There are exceptions to what you've seen and which I've stated above. At last year's Sun 'n Fun, I tried for 4 consecutive days to talk with one LSA importer/distributor (Aerotrek) about an RAF-related issue and couldn't get near him. I found some of his buyers were exactly the kinds of folks you would liked to have seen more of at Expo. What was he selling? A simple tho' well equipped, $87K fun to fly LSA that came in two configurations and with two basic engine options. It didn't even offer 1320# MTOW altho' it was competitive re: payload. A buyer could choose conventional or nose dragger, slower or (somewhat) faster power, and even buy the guy's fully-enclosed trailer and tow it around the country for <$100K. An example of a very different type was over at the Just Aircraft tent. The 51% rule for E-AB a/c appears to have essentially disappeared (in practice if not legally) and E-AB Just Highlanders are being built everywhere by seemingly everyone except their kit buyers. Relatively low-cost and so affordable, customizable (or not) and with lots of traffic at their booth and major Just fly-in events at backcountry airstrips. These are the Mom & Pop biz ventures that counterbalance the Tom Pigneney (sp?) and Carbon Cub success stories at the high end of the LSA marketplace. So savvy and responsive LSA entrepreneurs do exist as do satisfied LSA customers...but as I see it we're talking about niche markets that simply can't elevate an entire industry.

Thanks for sharing your ongoing search and impressions with us here. I think it's been instructive for all of us, and of course your thoroughness and tenacity are good role models.
Jack
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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby Nomore767 » Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:58 am

Jack,

Good post.

I think there was an Aerotek at Sebring but it was positioned half in/out of a special trailer for toting LSAs around the USA.

After spending 27 years flying transports and only in the latter years, my Tiger Moth, I didn't realize how much things had changed since my days of flying C150s, Cherokees etc when the were much newer!

Technology has advanced dramatically but not so much the knowledge of what to do with it. Sometimes I think we're all compelled to have it, buy it, want it, need it…because it's there. Not because we have a burning need or even a use for it.
They used to make a toaster that you plugged in, put the bread in, and selected medium or dark. It cost $10. Now you can select bread types, sizes and shapes. There's an LED display and sounds to tell you when you bread is ready or only defrosted if that's what you selected. Some may have displays showing time, timers, clock and so on. great stuff, and maybe $80+ for the Cadillac of toasters. I'm sure, somewhere, there's a Wi-Fi version that you can control remotely or even program so that your toast is ready when you wake up.
In my youth, at Grandma's, we could just stick our crumpets on a simple metal fork and hold them in front of the fire, deciding ourselves just when 'done' was 'done'. Ah the simplicity.

It's been an educational journey, I've learned a great deal, and tested the patience of many, I'm sure, with endless questions. Where it leads I'm not sure yet. I feel somewhat burned out and jaded. There are still a couple of targets so I guess the answer is…we'll see.

Cheers, Howard

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Re: No financing for new LSAs and no new Skycatchers.

Postby dstclair » Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:50 am

Technology has advanced dramatically but not so much the knowledge of what to do with it. Sometimes I think we're all compelled to have it, buy it, want it, need it…because it's there. Not because we have a burning need or even a use for it.

The Stings at the time I was looking 7 years ago all were equipped with what the vendor termed the 'Leading Edge 6 Pack'. ADI had a built in GPS. Very nice layout. I had already decided that I wanted to go with glass, though. I figured this was the direction of avionics and would improve resale value at some point in the future. Turns our glass was a very practical choice in LSA -- a single device weighs less than a 6-pack. It was also a wash in terms of cost.

I may be different than the typical buyer as I don't find the high end avionics daunting to use at all. Pretty straight-forward to me. I do read the manual(it's the engineer in me) then I spend a few flights playing with the features. YMMV.

I do think 3 G3Xs is over the top. I can't think what I'd do with the 3rd. 2 gives me redundancy and 3 seems to be all marketing but the cost increment is trivial when compare to the $200k price tag (saw a review of the Tecnam turbo displayed at the show and the price was listed at $215k).
dave


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