Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Talk about airplanes! At last count, there are 39 (and growing) FAA certificated S-LSA (special light sport aircraft). These are factory-built ready to fly airplanes. If you can't afford a factory-built LSA, consider buying an E-LSA kit (experimental LSA - up to 99% complete).

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designrs
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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby designrs » Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:33 am

3Dreaming wrote:I don't completely agree. When building a ELSA it is supposed to be an exact copy of the original ASTM compliant airplane, right down to every nut, bolt, and rivet. There is no latitude to make any changes from the factory design per regulation, so in theory it should be just as good as the factory airplane.


Good point about ASTM compliance, however in an amateur E-LSA build every rivet, nut, bolt, wire, etc. was assembled by an amateur builder. Some builder's work can be questionable, while others can be excellent.

I've hung around a few home-built projects. Great people, but I'd sure like to thoroughly know and understand the builder, their reputation, and to whom they might have looked to for guidance and support during the build.

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designrs
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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby designrs » Mon Dec 14, 2015 10:43 am

Perhaps it would be favorable to buy from a "professional builder". Someone who has built several similar aircraft and has a reputation within the builder community?

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MrMorden
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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby MrMorden » Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:01 am

designrs wrote:Perhaps it would be favorable to buy from a "professional builder". Someone who has built several similar aircraft and has a reputation within the builder community?


I don't think it has to be a professional or serial builder, or even one with a reputation. But you can look over an airplane and pretty quickly determine if the builder has good attention to detail, uses proper AN hardware, etc. Learn all you can about the type you are looking into, and you'll be able to know the common trouble spots and assess if the builder has done a good job.
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
Sport Pilot ASEL, LSRI
2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

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snaproll
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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby snaproll » Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:03 pm

snaproll wrote:Many of the ELSA's and E-AB's are good stable well constructed aircraft. Any buyer considering the purchase should thoroughly research the design, have some knowledge of aircraft structure and construction techniques, and understand the design limitations. Most are far more airworthy than 40 to 50 year old aircraft sold in the $10K to $20K range. As with any aircraft, a pre-buy inspection should be accomplished and logs/records should be reviewed. Most Experimental builders will also have receipts for materials used during construction. I don't accept the "more dangerous" aspect for Experimentals as many of the accidents are attributed to risky behavior.


Guess I need to expand on my comments regarding understanding the design and structure of any ship a buyer is considering. Decades ago, there was a gentleman in southern California who built a SA-3B two place Playboy from prints sold by my late father, Ray Stits. The builder followed the plans up to the point of building the wings, then took a shortcut purchasing an old set of cub wings, shortening them to fit the design, and installing them on the Playboy. Understand that the Playboy was fully aerobatic (+9 & -9G design) and has 2” spars. Cub wings have a much thinner spar and lighter ribs. The builder finished the Playboy and took his son for a ride, performed an aerobatic maneuver, and peeled one wing off the airplane killing them both on impact. Naturally, the investigation was “Stits Playboy has structural failure” along with related publicity. The FAA determined the builder deviated from the design causing the failure. My point is if purchasing and Experimental, a thorough knowledge of the design and structure is necessary when inspecting a possible purchase. I have seen some really stupid things done by builders, and determining each airframe is actually built to design is a task in itself. FYI, I have also seen non-spec rivets used on an RV-12 (hardware store purchase as the builder ran out of a specific size). As tough as it is, buyers need to be educated and have a thorough understanding of the design being considered. Enough for my soap box….

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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby Wm.Ince » Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:19 pm

FastEddieB wrote:Part II...
Both posts excellent Eddie. Thanks.
Bill Ince
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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby N918KT » Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:38 pm

Thanks everyone, this is good information!

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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby drseti » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:45 pm

Wm.Ince wrote:
SportPilot wrote:Any airplane is risky if you don't know how to manage the fuel.
BINGO!


Funny you should say that, Bill. BINGO is military jargon for minimum fuel alert.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof. H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D., CFII, LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC, iRMT
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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby drseti » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:56 pm

designrs wrote:Perhaps it would be favorable to buy from a "professional builder". Someone who has built several similar aircraft and has a reputation within the builder community?


We call such a builder a Repeat Offender. In the RV community, Mich Locke is a prime example.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof. H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D., CFII, LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC, iRMT
AvSport of Lock Haven
fly@AvSport.org
http://AvSport.org
http://facebook.com/SportFlying

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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby Wm.Ince » Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:11 pm

drseti wrote:
Wm.Ince wrote:
SportPilot wrote:Any airplane is risky if you don't know how to manage the fuel.
BINGO!
Funny you should say that, Bill. BINGO is military jargon for minimum fuel alert.
Correct, Paul.
Bill Ince
CTSW
Retired Heavy Equipment Operator

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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby rsteele » Thu Dec 17, 2015 4:53 pm

Another consideration when thinking about an experimental. I know several people that fly EABs. These planes are all kept in immaculate condition. Because they can all do their own maintenance (and are capable of doing it) they never fly a plane that isn't pretty much perfect. Mechanical/electrical/engine issues are fixed immediately regardless of how minor they are. The plane is also never worked on by anyone that doesn't understand it intimately. Pre-flights aren't just perfunctory, these guys know what to look for. There is no waiting around to have work done during an annual. There is no putting up with a half measures supplied by a manufacturer. I'm thinking of Cessna's seat track issue, for example which is one that I've experienced personally.

I assume this isn't the case for all EAB owners, but ALL the guys I know with them treat their planes this way.

Just an opposing view to some stated here.


Ron

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Re: Is it risky to buy a used ELSA or E-AB LSA?

Postby drdehave » Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:22 pm

Wow, there has been a lot of excellent, very thoughtful stuff presented in this thread! I especially like Roger's treatise about logbooks. Recognizing that widespread shortcoming early on, I set out to make my logbooks the best they possibly could be. Now, on the third book for each category (prop/engine/air-frame) I'm gradually getting there! My books now easily outshine no less than two-thirds of the other aircraft owners I associate with. Logbooks can tell a prospective buyer so much about what he is getting--or about to not get. If I was buying right now, the logbooks would be my first, very thorough look-see, before even bothering to check out the airplane in person. From logbooks you learn as much or more about the present owner as you do about the airplane's maintenance and repair history.

And good logbooks go hand-in-hand with knowing your airplane as intimately as you can, not just its flight characteristics (and nuisances), but all the structural and mechanical systems. I'm so fortunate that for every one of my five annuals so far, I've had a mechanic who gladly let me assist. And you would be surprised how many times I've caught those very experienced mechanics doing--or about to do something--that constituted a mistake. I just cannot imagine living in some relatively remote place, where the only available mechanic was of "no-owner-assist persuasion," you know? That's why earlier this year I took the "Inspection Rating" course up at Rainbow Aviation in Corning, CA. I was planning to then convert my Sting Sport S-LSA to E-LSA, just as Eddie has done, and begin doing my own annuals. But then I realized that for me, at least, it would be best to just stay with the status quo--relying on my three mechanics' decades of experience, but continuing to watch all of them like a hawk. That's the best--and safest--course for me.

But now, I've been thinking. When I finally do get ready to sell my airplane, which may not be too much longer, I think I'll recommend (and offer) that the new buyer spend at least 5 hours with me. With what I know now (and have bottled up to tell), I just wouldn't feel comfortable selling it to someone (unless they had mucho hours in the same type and model) who wanted to plunk down the dough, turn, and burn (saw that happen twice here, this summer, and both guys crashed before they got back home!). And if I was a buyer right now, I'd expect no less from any seller I was courting. In short, it's about the people as much as the airplane, in my opinion.

Rich
Sting Flight (Flying the Sting LSA)
http://www.youtube.com/user/9162069934/featured


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