New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

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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RickSigler
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New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby RickSigler » Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:33 pm

I'd like some help on making a decision on which new LSA to buy. I'm 69 years old, private pilot with instrument rating, third class medical, no known medical issues and about 1100 hours. My first plane was a 1998 172R and I currently own and fly a 2007 DA40 with a Garmin G1000 and GFC 700. I've decided I want a new plane and for the missions I fly, a LSA looks perfect and I should be able to move into one without any additional investment. In addition, if I start having medical problems I can continue flying as a Sport Pilot.

My plane is going to need to comply with the ADS-B requirement by 2020 and right now that looks like $8K - $11K in additional funds. I'm also really tired of oil consuming Lycoming engines and maintenance heavy magnetos. I only fly for fun and usually with a buddy serving as a safety pilot while I'm doing practice approaches. I do most of the work on my plane now with my A&P signing off on it. I'm planning on registering the new plane as an ELSA so I can take the required courses and do all my own work. In addition, I'm going to equip the plane to comply with 91.205 so I can fly IFR in IMC.

I've done a lot of research and I am scheduled to fly to PHL September 14th to meet with the Bristell guys to fly the Bristell, Sting and SportCruiser (they have all three). I've talked with representatives from all three manufacturers about the positives and negatives of their planes. I've also watched as many youtube videos as I could find. Based on all the research (and without flying) I am leaning towards the Bristell. One of the big reasons is that I can get the turbo 914 in it and I don't think the other planes offer that option. I'm based at KABQ which is 5300' and we have several 10000' peaks in the area.

I like the looks of the Sting S4 and actually flew a Sting at the 2008 or 2009 Sun 'n Fun and remember liking it. The problem with the Sting appears to be the fiberglass gas tanks. A bulletin was issued requiring E0 or 100LL because of fuel contamination problems. One of the youtubers with about 2000 hours in his Sting had to completely rebuild his gas tanks. The SportCruiser looks good and KADS is fairly close to ABQ, so I could fly there for an in depth evaluation, but they seem to have had some build problems in the past, the company has removed the exclusive dealer designation from US Sport Air and according to NTSB they have had nose wheel failures. The only downside to the Bristell I've heard of so far is the expense. Other than that, the build quality is reported to be exceptional. I've talked to three Bristell owners and all of them love the plane. One of the owners (youtube lepetitprince) flies a turbo out of California and climbed up to 13000' while shooting his video of his Lake Tahoe trip.

I would really like to hear the opinions of other member and their experiences if they've been in my position. I'm also open to considering another option if someone thinks there is a better one. Thanks in advance.

Rick
Last edited by RickSigler on Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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joey4420
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby joey4420 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:50 pm

I flew the Bristell at Sebring this summer. I may be a low time pilot, but I will say it flys amazingly well. We had 15 knot cross winds and I didn't even really notice compared to the SkyCatcher I was flying. I ended up buying an Ercoupe due to an investment not going the way I had hoped (don't they always go bad it seems).

If money was not an issue I would be flying a Bristell.

John up at Bristell is a great guy and very knowledgeable, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him or the Bristell.
Joey
Cincinnati OH
Sport Pilot
Ercoupe N99773

Wm.Ince
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby Wm.Ince » Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:28 pm

joey4420 wrote:I flew the Bristell at Sebring this summer. I may be a low time pilot, but I will say it flys amazingly well. We had 15 knot cross winds and I didn't even really notice compared to the SkyCatcher I was flying.
If money was not an issue I would be flying a Bristell.

What about climbing in and out of it? Does one have to be a contortionist?
That's where high wing airplanes have a distinct advantage . . . IMHO.
Bill Ince
CTSW
Retired Heavy Equipment Operator

Warmi
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby Warmi » Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:29 pm

Before settling on Sting S4, I was briefly looking at Bristell as well but the thing that turned me off was the fact that there were only about 2 dozen of these planes in USA , that and the fact that it was more expensive :-)


Sting S4 can be equipped with 914 engine but, for some reason, in case of TL Ultralight it is really expensive upgrade ( almost 20 K + - way more than for instance the same upgrade on Evektor )
I was wondering about the tank issue as well but given that there were only 3 cased of that happening ( across 600+ fleet ) and the fact that I didn't want to run Ethanol Mogas to begin with ( I have seen issues with local Remos GX planes running on Ethanol Mogas requiring frequent rubber replacements ) I figured it was not a big deal.

My dream plane really was Sling 2 - Sting S4 offers better visibility but Sling 2 felt a bit more solid but again , it was an expensive ( 170+K with 914 engine ) plane and, just as with Bristell, there were literally only about 20 or so planes in the US.
Flying Sting S4 ( N184WA ) out of Illinois

ct4me
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby ct4me » Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:52 pm

Depending on your time frame, you may want to wait and get a look at the KLA-100 before you buy. It's a brand new aircraft, that should get its certifications done very soon. There has been $25+million spent on research, engineering and design (6+ years!). Production is supposed to start this Fall, and ultimately will be made in S.Korea and Europe. Flight Design will be handling it in the USA and Europe. The specs and technology looks great... Stall Safe design, new airfoil with high aspect ratio and laminar flow elements. 912is, parachute, Garmin glass with ADS-B, 700+nm range, etc.
I get the feeling this is going to be a very successful aircraft.
http://www.flightdesign.com/wp-content/ ... _2017_.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpHLJzef03k

http://ctflier.com/index.php?/topic/4367-kla-100-flies/
Tim
-----
check out CTFlier.com

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joey4420
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby joey4420 » Tue Aug 22, 2017 3:03 pm

Wm.Ince wrote:
joey4420 wrote:I flew the Bristell at Sebring this summer. I may be a low time pilot, but I will say it flys amazingly well. We had 15 knot cross winds and I didn't even really notice compared to the SkyCatcher I was flying.
If money was not an issue I would be flying a Bristell.

What about climbing in and out of it? Does one have to be a contortionist?
That's where high wing airplanes have a distinct advantage . . . IMHO.


I would say it was easier to get in and out of then the sportcruiser ( I did climb into one) but it was pretty much the same as any low wing. My Ercoupe is a little tighter than most low wings to get into.

I will say if you want to get into and out of a plane easily, then look at the World Aircraft Vision. The Vision is very easy to get into and out of. The person I bought my Ercoupe from bought one for that very reason and I will have to say it was very easy to get into.
Joey
Cincinnati OH
Sport Pilot
Ercoupe N99773

pjdavis
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby pjdavis » Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:11 pm

I have been training in a Bristell since last fall - just waiting for my check ride. The only other LSA I have flown was an RV 12. Previous to that a 172. So I can not compare other LSA's. I can only speak of my experience of many hours of flight in the Bristell. The sport Cruiser is a nice airplane - the Bristell is built by a a member of the design team for the Sport Cruiser. I guess you say he was determined to improve the erognomics, performance and creature comforts. If I had the money I would buy the Bristell. As a student pilot I find the airplane to be very forgiving, nimble an very comfortable. If you go back to the 60's The Chevrolet and Cadillac where built on the same chassis,etc. One was a Chevrolet and one was a Cadillac. What works for you? Of course the cost is a big factor.

PJ

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drseti
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby drseti » Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:37 pm

I wouldn't be deterred, Rick, by the low number of Bristells registeted in the US. That figure seems to be going up every month, and with hundreds flying in Europe, the design is well proven and supported. As for the LSRI rating, though I highly recommend the course, the only thing it buys you is the ability to do your own condition inspections. Anything else on any Experimental can legally be done by a trained monkey (or even an untrained one).

You should, however, consider taking the Rotax service and maintenance level courses. The 912 and 914 engines are solid, and reliable, but quirky (and decidedly different from Lycomings and Continentals).
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
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Jim Hardin
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby Jim Hardin » Wed Aug 23, 2017 4:58 pm

Of course the SportCrusier was built by Bristell but the Bristell LSA is not the same airplane! It is redesigned to eliminate the shortcomings of the SportCruiser. One of the shortcomings was the pitch control during flare, leading to a higher incidence to nose gear problems.

I am fond of the Bristell but honestly I haven't flown an LSA that I didn't like.

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MrMorden
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby MrMorden » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:01 pm

Before engaging the DAR to convert the airplane to E-LSA, talk to him about the IFR requirement. Some DARs write the new operating limitations to allow it, some don't. You don't want to get stuck with an airplane with limitations that don't allow you to fly it the way you want to.

All of your choices are very nice airplanes, good luck with the purchase!
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
Sport Pilot ASEL, LSRI
2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

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MrMorden
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby MrMorden » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:08 pm

Also, the Bristell seems super nice, but it also has the least operational history of the three you mentioned. There are a lot of SportCruisers around and their virtues and vices are well known. The Stings have been around a good while too, just in fewer numbers than the 'Cruiser. I think the fuel tank issue is rare, and may be ethanol-related. Running non-ethanol fuel might completely mitigate it. I personally like the Sting and Bristell equally, the SC a little less so. I flew a couple of hours in the SC and didn't care for it.

Have you looked at the Tecnam Astore? Tecnam makes very nice airplanes, and have been doing it since the 1940s.
Last edited by MrMorden on Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:47 am, edited 3 times in total.
Andy Walker
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2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

Warmi
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby Warmi » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:10 pm

ct4me wrote:Depending on your time frame, you may want to wait and get a look at the KLA-100 before you buy. It's a brand new aircraft, that should get its certifications done very soon.


Indeed, so far it looks like FD may have a winner here. Large open canopy, low instrument panel , wide cockpit ( CTLS style .)
I wouldn't want to be the first one on the block to order it, but in time, this model may become a serious player.
Flying Sting S4 ( N184WA ) out of Illinois

RickSigler
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby RickSigler » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:29 pm

Thanks so much for the comments so far. With any luck, I should be flying them (in Lancaster) three weeks from today.

ct4me: The KLA-100 looks really cool, but I don't want to be a test pilot and I'm getting excited about getting a new plane, so I don't think I could wait.

Paul: I did notice the low number in the U.S., but saw plenty of youtube videos of them flying in Europe. John and Lou said that Bristell recently expanded their production plant to produce more planes. I also think that the price may be a big factor. I'm sure they sell way more Chevys than Cadillacs. I'm definitely taking the the LSRI and Rotax courses as soon as I get the new plane.

Andy: Great point about the DAR, but I've been talking to the dealers about that exact issue. Bill (Sting) is a DAR and would have no problem with IMC for ELSA with the proper equipment and told me he would do the Bristell or SportCruiser if I didn't buy the Sting. John and Lou are actually promoting IMC in the Bristell if properly equipped and I think they have access to a "friendly" DAR. Patrick (SC) said the same thing. Thanks for info on the Tecnam. I didn't know about that plane and it looks like you can get the turbo in that plane. I'll check it out.

Rick

jetcat3
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby jetcat3 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:18 pm

Hi Rick,

Did you get my private message? Thanks.

Drew

RickSigler
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Re: New LSA - Bristell, Sting S4, SportCruiser or ?

Postby RickSigler » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:16 am

Drew,

Just responded. I guess the board doesn't notify you of a PM.

Rick


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