Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

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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Nomore767
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Nomore767 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:24 am

The points I made about building from the kits versus buying factory assembled, and going from SLSA to ELSA, is that I
have been continually told since I acquired my plane that building the Vans kit is very straightforward requiring only a few tools like those folks have around their house. That going ELSA and doing some courses would allow me to do my own servicing and annual as well as the annual. I know, you can already do certain servicing items.
The reality, as it is most often is, is..well reality. There is usually one extra step, one tool required, one set of expert eyes needed in order to actually do that.
As I've previously said, my hangar neighbor recently completed his RV-12 after six years and his hangar is full of tools and other kits he needed to complete the project. $$$ He had to design and construct a rack to hold and turn his wings once completed, for example. He is currently wrestling with the wheel fairings.
The wheel fairings on the RV-12 look good (in my opinion) and add a few knots to the cruise speed. However, they are a bugger in that they cover the valve and brakes such that part of the fairing has to be removed in order to refill air and/or check brake pads. The builder corps on Vans Air Force ( all great folks) say it only takes a few minutes to remove the fairings to refill air but in reality its more like 45 mins to an hour and involves a fair but of cussing (on my part).
You can drill access holes in the fairings opposite the valve so as to simply remove a cap you install and voila you fill the tire. However, even if you mark the tire where the hole is it still requires moving the plane back and forth to line up the hole, which (again in my case) involves the requisite amount of cussing. I added the access holes but usually just remove the fairings and waste 45 minutes.
This can be a pain in the rear when you're wanting to get away and fly. Yes, its part of the package yada yada...but...for the folks contemplating buying/building/owning its a reality typical of others that are part of the deal and should be considered.

As is...changing the oil...on the RV-12 this requires removing both the upper and lower cowlings. I've figured out the top but even my mechanic requires a second pair of hands for the lower. Then you require a bowl/recepticle to receive the old oil, safety wire and tool, filter tool, new oil etc. Not huge but for me I still need the extra pair of hands to remove the lower cowl which negates the advantage of doing it myself. You can install a quick drain which only drains the oil quicker that normal and still requires the removal of the lower cowl.
With my flying, usually about 100+ hours a year, I get one oil change at annual (usually around the 50 hour mark for premium auto gas) and the other at the next 50 hours. Since my mechanic is only 30 mins flying time away and has everything required , at a discount (and almost no cussing) its much easier and less time consuming for me to have him do it. He'll always do a better job than me and its much less stress.
Plan B is to ask my hangar neighbor to help, and he always would, but I hate to bother him as he works M-F and doesn't need more distractions from me on flyable days. Or to take him away from fiddling with his wheel pants project!

Again, posted by me in order to provide a real world view of ownership as opposed to what THEY say I should/could/ought to do.

Lastly, I had an erroneous oil pressure reading. A&P on field said piece of cake, a minor issue, and took over 6 weeks NOT to be able to fix it. After procrastinating and looking at $400+ in projected labor costs I eventually flew to my Rotax guy who solved it in about 30 minutes for free. Which I should have done in the first place.

Nomore767
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Nomore767 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:17 pm

The points I made about building from the kits versus buying factory assembled, and going from SLSA to ELSA, is that I
have been continually told since I acquired my plane that building the Vans kit is very straightforward requiring only a few tools like those folks have around their house. That going ELSA and doing some courses would allow me to do my own servicing and annual as well as the annual. I know, you can already do certain servicing items.
The reality, as it is most often is, is..well reality. There is usually one extra step, one tool required, one set of expert eyes needed in order to actually do that.
As I've previously said, my hangar neighbor recently completed his RV-12 after six years and his hangar is full of tools and other kits he needed to complete the project. $$$ He had to design and construct a rack to hold and turn his wings once completed, for example. He is currently wrestling with the wheel fairings.
The wheel fairings on the RV-12 look good (in my opinion) and add a few knots to the cruise speed. However, they are a bugger in that they cover the valve and brakes such that part of the fairing has to be removed in order to refill air and/or check brake pads. The builder corps on Vans Air Force ( all great folks) say it only takes a few minutes to remove the fairings to refill air but in reality its more like 45 mins to an hour and involves a fair but of cussing (on my part).
You can drill access holes in the fairings opposite the valve so as to simply remove a cap you install and voila you fill the tire. However, even if you mark the tire where the hole is it still requires moving the plane back and forth to line up the hole, which (again in my case) involves the requisite amount of cussing. I added the access holes but usually just remove the fairings and waste 45 minutes.
This can be a pain in the rear when you're wanting to get away and fly. Yes, its part of the package yada yada...but...for the folks contemplating buying/building/owning its a reality typical of others that are part of the deal and should be considered.

As is...changing the oil...on the RV-12 this requires removing both the upper and lower cowlings. I've figured out the top but even my mechanic requires a second pair of hands for the lower. Then you require a bowl/recepticle to receive the old oil, safety wire and tool, filter tool, new oil etc. Not huge but for me I still need the extra pair of hands to remove the lower cowl which negates the advantage of doing it myself. You can install a quick drain which only drains the oil quicker that normal and still requires the removal of the lower cowl.
With my flying, usually about 100+ hours a year, I get one oil change at annual (usually around the 50 hour mark for premium auto gas) and the other at the next 50 hours. Since my mechanic is only 30 mins flying time away and has everything required , at a discount (and almost no cussing) its much easier and less time consuming for me to have him do it. He'll always do a better job than me and its much less stress.
Plan B is to ask my hangar neighbor to help, and he always would, but I hate to bother him as he works M-F and doesn't need more distractions from me on flyable days. Or to take him away from fiddling with his wheel pants project!

Again, posted by me in order to provide a real world view of owning a light sport aircraft from my own personal perspective.

Lastly, I had an erroneous oil pressure reading. A&P on field said piece of cake, a minor issue, and took over 6 weeks NOT to be able to fix it. After procrastinating and looking at $400+ in projected labor costs I eventually flew to my Rotax guy who solved it in about 30 minutes for free. Which I should have done in the first place.

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FastEddieB
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby FastEddieB » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:25 pm

There is an expression: “The perception is the reality”.

So who am I to argue with a perception that Light Sport maintenance and inspection requires a lot of specialized tools?

There are a few...

Compression tester.

Vacuum gauges or electronic device for carb balance.

Setup for “purging”.

And not a whole lot else I can think of - even dedicated wire twisters are kind of optional.

I think my compression tester was less than $100. I made my own vacuum gauge setup for about $50. I have not yet purchased the setup with which to purge the oil system - I have not yet found a need.

In addition, were I to need a specialized tool, a quick email to the members of my EAA chapter would likely get a lot of offers, as I would offer my tools and expertise to anyone in need.

Here’s my setup at my hangar:

Image

But if it all seems like too much, then it’s too much. But I enjoy it as a challenge, and kind of a zen thing as well. And everybody needs a hobby!
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
CFI, CFII, CFIME
FastEddieB@mac.com

Nomore767
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Nomore767 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:38 pm

Nice set up!
Agree about perception.

I was told at Sebring that i could build an RV-12 myself i just needed some household tools and the space to do it.
It’s not true and i post it for those who’re contemplating building for their benefit or is it
“Eddiefication?”

TimTaylor
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby TimTaylor » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:42 pm

The first thing you need is a hanger. Living in Atlanta, I could probably never find a hanger. If I did, and rented it, I could probably never afford an airplane to put in my hanger. Where you live has a lot to do with the rent vs buy decision. If I qualified for Basic Med, I would have no problem tieing down a Cessna, Piper, or Mooney. There are a lot of factors.
Commercial Pilot Airplane Single & Multiengine Land; Instrument Airplane; Sport Endorsement Airplane Single Engine Sea; Flight Instructor Airplane Single And Multiengine; Ground Instructor Advanced Instrument

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ShawnM
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby ShawnM » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:49 pm

TimTaylor wrote:The first thing you need is a hanger. Living in Atlanta, I could probably never find a hanger. If I did, and rented it, I could probably never afford an airplane to put in my hanger. Where you live has a lot to do with the rent vs buy decision. If I qualified for Basic Med, I would have no problem tieing down a Cessna, Piper, or Mooney. There are a lot of factors.


So true, I have friends in South Florida in Davie that pay $600 a month for a hangar. I COULD NOT afford this at all. Nor would I want to. I could own a second house for this kind of money. My hangar is about 1/3 that much.

Where you live does have a lot to do with your annual costs and can influence your rent versus own decision. Think about those people in California. :mrgreen:

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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Warmi » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:55 pm

I pay $300 with heating and electricity about 30 miles south of Chicago - 20 minutes drive from my place, not too bad but not great either.
Flying Sting S4 ( N184WA ) out of Illinois

foresterpoole
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby foresterpoole » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:58 pm

If you can find a hanger around here it's a reasonable 150-200/month (generally includes electric). That's a big IF, right now there is a 10+ deep wait list for a hanger spot at either AEX or ESF. Even the very small airport in Pollock, LA that basically has no lights, a horrible runway and no fuel is on a wait list. I tried to get a tie down price for an airport owned by the state (1R4) they fly single engine air tankers and med flight helocopters so it's in decent shape and open to the public, I was told to take a number. That one is 3 minutes from my house. So even if I purchased one, there is a good chance I'd have trouble finding a place to park it. It's like daycare, as soon as you find out your wife (or significant other) is pregnant, you better get your name on a list!
Ed

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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Warmi » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:16 pm

If there is money to be made on renting hangars ,as there obviously is given long waiting lists you describe, then the normal market driven solution would be to raise the price which in turn would result in more hangars being build and available and no waiting lists ...

So why nobody is building new hangars and making boatloads of money ?
Flying Sting S4 ( N184WA ) out of Illinois

3Dreaming
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby 3Dreaming » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:35 am

Warmi wrote:If there is money to be made on renting hangars ,as there obviously is given long waiting lists you describe, then the normal market driven solution would be to raise the price which in turn would result in more hangars being build and available and no waiting lists ...

So why nobody is building new hangars and making boatloads of money ?


I manage a small airport. Building new hangars is not quite as simple as one would think, especially if the airport is federally funded.

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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby FastEddieB » Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:12 pm

Let me stipulate that owning or renting a hangar is very, very, VERY desirable if one wants to own and maintain one's own plane.

But NOT essential.

For many, many years I owned and did essential preventive maintenance on a variety of aircraft in S FL, either tied down completely exposed or in a T-hangar.

I carried my tools and supplies around first in a Mazda station wagon and later in a Toyota Previa van.

Again, LOTS of disadvantages, mainly due to weather. But I made it work, and others manage to as well.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
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Nomore767
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Nomore767 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:33 pm

My mechanic, Dana, travels in his KitFox to clients whose aircraft is stuck with a Rotax or other LSA issue. He also has a couple of hangars at S17 where he has his business.

FYI Eddie he has a contract to maintain two County Sky Arrows so he’s quite familiar with them.

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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby FastEddieB » Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:51 pm

Nomore767 wrote:FYI Eddie he has a contract to maintain two County Sky Arrows so he’s quite familiar with them.


Would you please PM me his information? I have a question or two for him.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
CFI, CFII, CFIME
FastEddieB@mac.com

foresterpoole
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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby foresterpoole » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:08 pm

3Dreaming wrote:
Warmi wrote:If there is money to be made on renting hangars ,as there obviously is given long waiting lists you describe, then the normal market driven solution would be to raise the price which in turn would result in more hangars being build and available and no waiting lists ...

So why nobody is building new hangars and making boatloads of money ?


I manage a small airport. Building new hangars is not quite as simple as one would think, especially if the airport is federally funded.


I'll take a stab at why I think the market has not adjusted: fuel. The only places to get 100LL around here are AEX or 2L0. ESF has a fuel truck, but you'll pay through the nose for it and you have to call in advance. Of those three only ESF and AEX have instrument approaches, so if you want IFR your pretty limited. Those two are controlled by the Parish which is broke, 2L0 is a small city government. The two larger airports still utilize community hangers built by the military which are low cost to rent, but hell to get into. Pineville (2L0) is out of real estate for hangers and most Tennant's have had hangers for years since they were built (pretty basic T-hangers and corregated tin) their leases are locked in at low rates. So your other choices really can't command a high price because you have to fill up elsewhere which is a real pain, and rents there are low because of it. All those airports are Federally funded or supported, so I'm sure that makes a difference as well, 3D can probably elaborate. So to summarize: fuel is limited, hangers are full at low rates, and no one in government wants to spend money.
Ed

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Re: Annual Expense in Owning an ELSA (Good News & Bad News)

Postby Nomore767 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:43 pm

FastEddieB wrote:
Nomore767 wrote:FYI Eddie he has a contract to maintain two County Sky Arrows so he’s quite familiar with them.


Would you please PM me his information? I have a question or two for him.


PM sent


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