Older aircraft vs 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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foresterpoole
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Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby foresterpoole » Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:01 pm

OK, so I'm very close to a check-ride for PPL, and I've been looking at aircraft again. This time, there was a Piper Cherokee 140 at a neighbouring airport for sale, mid-20k list price. Looks OK paint wise, interior is OK, but the panel looks like the 1970's threw up and while serviceable come 2020 it's going to need some serious help (I priced out a nav/com stack and some basic panel upgrades and it would cost more than the plane is worth), it's also IFR capable, but the VOR needs to be fixed, so not current. The engine is mid-life and looks good, it's been maintained by the local FBO I rent from so at least the recent history is believable on paper (I would get a prebuy of course). I've also looked at a few newer LSA's specifically Sportcruisers in the 60k -70k range.

I've run some numbers: fixed costs for hangar are the same, insurance is more for the LSA, but that's to be expected since the hull cost is more. So it really comes down to care and feeding of the beasts. In my limited research the difference in price while substantial upfront can be made up in oil, fuel price differences and annual costs.

So here is the question: given my mission either of these work (I'm flying alone most of the time) and mainly flying for fun, two hour trips/legs maximum). Speeds are not all that dissimilar, fuel burns are different, as are care and feeding costs. Most of you guys came from the heavier aircraft and can probably tell me real quick if buying a cheaper older aircraft (I think it may be a rabbit hole where I throw money), or a newer LSA would be better in the long run. So let the opinions fly, keep it civil....
Ed

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joey4420
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Re: Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby joey4420 » Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:33 am

Having just purchased a 1946 Ercoupe (I am sport pilot) I can say that sub 25k is going to allow for a lot of flying time before I ever get close to the cost of even the cheapest LSA.

My NAV/COM was garbage in my Ercoupe, so I replaced it all with a new Trig TY91 (I don't need VOR). I did the work myself with an EAA member IA doing the sign off. So cost of the radio and wiring harness and a day of being stuffed upside down under my dash. $1600.00 all in.

I fly mostly with my iPad and iPhone as backup. As far as ADS-B, sadly I do live and fly and hangar inside the Bravo for Cincinnati, so I will need ADS-B, but I am waiting for prices to come down and planning to install it myself with the same EAA member helping with paperwork.

So long story short, it is a personal thing. Do you want all new, slightly used or some older character. I went with character and figure if I ever sell her I will only really be out the hangar/fuel/insurance costs.

So far this last month of ownership (official that is, in my hangar) I have put 20 hours on my Ercoupe at 5 gph and have done multiple cross country flights and 1 overnight trip.

Everywhere I have been I get comments about my Ercoupe.
Joey
Cincinnati OH
Sport Pilot
Ercoupe N99773

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FastEddieB
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Re: Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby FastEddieB » Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:45 am

First, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a well-maintained older aircraft. I've been impressed with planes as old or older than I am (68!).

That said, I think it's almost inevitable that one would spend more time chasing gremlins in an older plane, and that can become tedious. It's nice to be able to just jump in a plane and have everything work. And while this is possible even in a plane that's many decades old, I think one is more likely to fly squawk-free more often in a newer plane, though even that is no guarantee.

My personal preference when buying used is to find a well preserved example where just about everything works - and then my goal is just to keep it as nice as when I bought it. Restoration can be VERY time consuming and expensive, and it's not hard to put way more into an older plane than it's worth.

I personally think you would be best served by a lightly used LSA. Let someone else take the brunt of depreciation, then fly it in the "sweet spot" where initial bugs have been worked out, but wear and obsolescence* have not become a huge issue. If you're mechanically inclined, the option of going E-LSA is huge, and not an option you have in an older, non-LSA plane.

Regardless, and however you decide, you're about to embark on a great adventure. Good luck!


*The panel in the Cherokee you describe sounds like a nightmare to me. Or one could just rip everything out and have a blank canvas upon which to build a dream panel. Or just stock up on "INOP" stickers and fly with an iPad or equivalent. But that process in neither easy nor cheap - but once accomplished can be extremely gratifying.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
FastEddieB@mac.com

foresterpoole
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Re: Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby foresterpoole » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:36 am

Well the Cherokee must have been a steal, it sold after a week on the market!
Ed

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Jim Hardin
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Re: Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby Jim Hardin » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:09 am

The biggest downside with older aircraft is the Airworthness Directives that can pop up. While many may just require an A&P to look at something in the next 25 hours some can need a 2nd mortgage to resolve.

As you have done, fixed costs are pretty predictable. Operating cost like fuel can be kept very close by adding in buying an auto fuel STC, if available. (not sure it would really make that much difference)

Let us know your next pick :D

HAPPYDAN
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Re: Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby HAPPYDAN » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:33 am

Maybe not your cup of tea, but earlier this year a totally restored '46 Taylorcraft BC-12D was offered by the Port Townsend Av Museum for $18,500. They had 3 and needed some fast cash. Got an insurance quote from Avemco, 3 days later it was already gone. Snooze and lose. But keep looking!

foresterpoole
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Re: Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby foresterpoole » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:09 pm

Interestingly enough I saw a Taylorcraft (don't know what model) today at the fuel island. The plane was gorgeous, well taken care of. I almost spit my water out my nose when he taxi'd out mid field, and started his takeoff roll on the touchdown markers. He had that thing off the runway and at 500' before he crossed the end of the runway, incredibly impressive. Unfortunately, I don't have access to a nice hanger to keep it in, that was a cloth wing I think. My only choice right now is a community hanger at AEX's FBO and that might be going away soon, I don't know if I trust some line guy with a delicate antique.
Ed

Merlinspop
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Re: Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby Merlinspop » Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:53 am

foresterpoole wrote:I don't know if I trust some line guy with a delicate antique.

They didn't get to be 60, 70, coming on 80 years old by being that delicate. But your point is still valid that you don't want any aircraft unnecessarily beat up, either.
- Bruce

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drseti
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Re: Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby drseti » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:19 pm

Yes, you can get a 50 year old Skyhawk or Cherokee, with 50 year old avionics and a midtime engine, in the mid twenties. Or you can get a 10 year old SLSA, with 10 year old avionics and a midtime engine, for about twice that. Unless you're quite an experienced mechanic, after two years of ownership that Skyhawk or Cherokee can ending up costing you more than the SLSA. So, unless your legacy aircraft is a classic (like Joey's Ercoupe) and you're willing to spend big bux to preserve a piece of history, you'd be well served to go the used SLSA route.
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
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foresterpoole
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Re: Older aircraft vs LSA

Postby foresterpoole » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:51 pm

The '99 172sp I fly was down for maintenance so I took up the older '79 N model for a few trips around the pattern earlier this week. It pretty much solidified the reasons I dislike older aircraft (well maintained classics excluded), VOR was out, the com was jury rigged so you listen on one and transmit on the other, the PTT was sketchy unless you mashed it hard and the trim was way out of whack, (almost full nose down before it relieved the pressure) and the car heat would not stay pulled out for anything. I remembered why I went light sport in the beginning, I hated that plane and felt uncomfortable in it. Probably unfounded, but that's too many "work arounds" for me to trust it. Rather newer and trustworthy than cheap and a death trap....
Ed


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