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PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:29 pm 
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Assuming there is a path to transition from Sport Pilot than I too would end up doing it if for no other reason than to be able to find aircraft to fly.
As I began training, I got tired real quick of being LAUGHED at calling FBO's here in New Jersey and asking about their future plans to add LSA's. Like many others have said, you just can't find them to rent. The 1 passenger restriction is still a bummer though.

On the bright side it is very refreshing to see organizations come together for the greater good! Much needed given the bad media aviation has gotten the last several months. We need all the help we can get.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 5:52 am 
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SSDriver wrote:
I got tired real quick of being LAUGHED at calling FBO's here in New Jersey and asking about their future plans to add LSA's.


Drew, I can't believe FBOs would be that shortsighted. This is a great business to be in! :D They're all missing out on a wonderful opportunity. Their loss, to be sure, but also your loss. :(

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:18 am 
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If the FAA is anything like the Government agencies I am used to dealing with I would guess this will be a long time coming but I can see why the LAMA would not be that happy about it. I think it will just about kill the industry, at least as the present business model is set up.

I like the idea of a sport pilot's license and I would no doubt be going for one if there were enough airplanes to rent out there but it is still a very young industry. I am assuming that the recreational license would be without a medical too and for only a few more hours I would have many more options on what I could fly. Let's face it, while LSA's are much cheaper than new conventional certified airplanes, they are still far above what the average middle class or even upper middle class person can afford to pay. We are years away from them being common enough to see lots of partnerships and even flying clubs in most areas. If this rule change were to happen anytime soon I don't think you would see many older pilots trying to buy new LSA's and new pilots would have way more options as far as buying and renting.

Right now an older airplane, that can be flown with a sport pilot's license, is going at a premium over a similar airplane that can not be. If this rule were to take effect I think that would pretty much go away. It would also open up a huge market for many homebuilts that have been built


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:44 am 
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In watching the video interview, EAA and AOPA are going for an exemption to the medical for recreational flying not a rule change. They also did not mention a medical-less RP being something one could earn like an SP but a way for higher rated pilots to continue flying 180hp planes without the burden of a medical.

It looks like they are trying to get a narrow exception to create a beach head that can be expanded, IMHO.

The LSA market certainly would lose potential buyers from the pool of RP eligible aircraft owners. Don't know how it would affect the airplane-less PP who is in the market (who doesn't have/want a medical). There are many of us who chose LSAs even though we have medicals.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 1:57 pm 
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Location: Garner, NC (nc99 via airnav)
Frankly part of my want/need comes from simply a higher useful load/more fuel/faster speed for longer x-country flights -- or at least faster x-country flights. I realize that i'll require additional endorsements for such a beast, but purchasing a CTLS/p2008 for close to 135k, vs spending the same money for a 180hp RV-9 that'll handle 200mph on 10gph with a fixed pitch prop... thats fairly attractive to me.

I have family up in the indy/kosh area and getting there from nc is a bit of a haul even at 115-120kts. 165kts is a lot more attractive for me.

I've recently found out that I can actually potentially get an SI for my condition, however the costs of the testing would be roughly 5k out of pocket, and would only be good for 2 years. Frankly if this actually happened I'd probably go get my private with that SI in place, and then just fly on the drivers license and as that expanded I would be set to go.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:02 pm 
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We've been monitoring the a/c marketplace lately and I don't see the kind of impact (of a 'driver's license medical' for 2-passenger, low-end Part 23 a/c) on LSA sales that many are forecasting.

Let's assume 'Jim' wants to buy a plane to go flying in. The kind of plane he's shopping for fits the proposal outline (day VFR, </= 180 hp, fixed gear, etc.). What would he need to pay for a used Part 23 a/c? I'm seeing LOTS of very nice Part 23 a/c that cost below $50K, with attractive upgrades, decent paint & interiors, etc. Lots are being advertised at <$25K. How many new LSA a/c fit that price range? None.

So the pilot who would be persuaded against buying a new LSA would be that person who a) has a PP license and b) is willing to pay $50K more (and perhaps $70-80K more) to purchase an LSA a/c BUT would instead buy a Part 23 a/c. I just don't many of those kinds of buyers in the marketplace. Lots of "I wish I could buy a new/newer LSA" buyers...but those folks aren't buying a new/newer LSA because the price is so much higher.

OTOH Rob's (Skunk's) comment indicates where I think the impact will be felt. What's the incentive for a SP license (for the beginning student pilot) if a one-time additional expense to get a PPL buys you two things: access to cheaper planes you can own and fly, and far more rental a/c available. So the hit would logically seem to be more on SP student starts. But there have been very few of those (<1000/year if memory serves) anyway.

There are some very grumpy people in the LSA industry today...and they aren't dumb. But I think that's mostly to do with their razor thin profits to begin with. Consider: In the first 6 months of 2011, total S-LSA sales were 126 a/c...or annualized, that's about 250 a/c sold in a year. And there are at least 112 S-LSA models being marketed right now. And only 6 manufacturers account for 90% of those sales. So financially speaking, some of those manufacturers are already 'done', tho' they may not want to admit it, and this is just generally 'bad news' and not the cause of their particular heartache.[/b]

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:32 am 
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Jack Tyler wrote:
In the first 6 months of 2011, total S-LSA sales were 126 a/c.


Jack, that's just in the US. For many of the LSA manufacturers, the primary market is Europe. The USA sales are just a bonus. So, those mfgrs are hardly "done."

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Prof. H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D., CFII, LSRM-A/GL/WS
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 7:25 am 
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Well, not so fast Paul. First, I think most of us know that DJ's LSA Marketplace reports are for the USA. He only does extended reports and videos on FAA approved S-LSA's, and the fellow who does his Marketplace surveys only reports on those sales.

But it's not quite so simple as saying a European manufacturer sells in Europe so his presence here in the USA is assured (which I think is the implication of your post). Maintaining a distributorship, a supply chain, providing promotional materials, incurring travel costs, and other such activities hit a European manufacturer's bottom line. Beyond that, the U.S. distributor - and any regional sales operations - have costs that have to be covered by sales revenue. Few sales will, sooner or later, mean fewer retailers and distributors.

How many Skyleader 500's (Czech Republic) do we see? Or MD-3 Riders (Italy), or Parrots (CR), or FK12 Comets (Germany) and so on? Now couple that with those European products which have exhausted the financial resources of their first USA distributor and are now hanging on only because they have found the next optimistic investor. (One of many examples: the Tanarg 912 - French - given a rebirth at www.aircreation.net. Or the SkyKit's move from Canada to Tennessee). Now consider the U.S. built S-LSA's that have floundered tho' not necessarily because they are bad-flying a/c. I don't think we're seeing many Thorpedos, Mermaids, A-22 Valors, Sport Hornets...and the list goes on.

Each of these aircraft may be worthy in their own right, and I don't mean to be critical of the people trying to (unsuccessfully) market them, either. My point is that, while promoters still express public denial about a 'shakeout' in the market, the weaning process began quite some time ago. And low-selling European models in the USA are not immune from that process, because USA representation is not a free lunch.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:41 am 
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Jack, I didn't mean to imply that all those European LSAs will continue to be imported and sold in the US. There will surely be a shakeout in this regard, for the reasons you mention. I was thinking more in terms of the mfgr disappearing altogether, which (with some obvious exceptions) is unlikely to happen. This is relevant in the context of the installed base in the US becoming orphaned, or not. Evektor USA, for example, has gone through various iterations, and though I certainly wish Art Tarola well, he could conceivably decide at any time not to rep the SportStar. However, even if this should happen, we SportStar owners would still be able to receive parts and technical support directly from the Czech Republic. Sure, that would be an imconvenience, and lead time would imcrease, but the company would go on, and the owners would keep flying. So, in that sense, the low sales numbers hardly signal The End Of The World As We Know It.

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The opinions expressed in this post are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the position of the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof. H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D., CFII, LSRM-A/GL/WS
AvSport of Lock Haven
http://AvSport.org fly@AvSport.org


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 12:53 pm 
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Paul, I agree with the consequence you describe for any 'installed base' of LSA a/c that are orphaned - whether by a USA factory closing or a U.S. distributorship ceasing. Yes, life will (have to) go on for those a/c owners. In fact, while I hear some pretty serious gnashing of teeth from some LSA builders and retailers about the EAA/AOPA proposal, I believe there are many indications that the future for many of them has already been shaped by the flooded S-LSA marketplace (122 models and counting...), the consistently low level of SP student-starts, and the lack of an LSA rental fleet.

However::
"For many of the LSA manufacturers, the primary market is Europe. The USA sales are just a bonus."

If an American distributorship proves to be a 'cost center' rather than a 'profit center', its longevity is unlikely because there is no 'bonus'. And I surely hope that doesn't happen to the SportStar; it's a nifty LSA.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:02 pm 
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To the lack of rentals available, As far as FBO's buying them I have to imagine securing the financing these days when most lenders are keeping the carpet rolled up has gotta be really difficult and potential returns to the FBO's have got to be a scary proposition. I have read many times that the Sport Pilot license failed to draw the masses as it was designed to do.

Speaking for myself, it was a fluke that I found out about the Sport Pilot license to begin with and I was having trouble believing it was that obtainable for an average family guy with kids who had to put flying on the back burner for so many years.

How does the general public who might have the desire to fly even learn about it? Can a family type Training operation afford big advertising? Probably not. Outside of seeing an occasional AOPA decal or EAA sticker on someones car, they aren't likely to visit those websites. I've 'spread the gospel' since I've started flying, showing off photos and I know it's generated some traffic on a small level at least for my school. Which the way I see that is, if it helps my FBO that increases the odds that I'm will have access to more equipment down the road.

I do not want to get blasted for asking this but I have no concept of what it costs to produce a LSA. Are the profit margins that tight on these things? Imported or Domestic? The $100k+ price tag is more like a toy for the elite. Not an economic way to enjoy flying. As an aspiring pilot, it's really kind of depressing to think about.

If they pass this D/L medical at some point, as much as I prefer flying the LSA my school has, upgrading and flying a 152/172 is sort of a no-brainer if you want to be out there enjoying things.

In the meantime for the first time in 40yrs I'm a regular Friday night Lottery ticket buyer because I think I'd look really good in one of these..

Image
Renegade Falcon

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:41 pm 
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SSDriver wrote:


I've 'spread the gospel' since I've started flying, showing off photos and I know it's generated some traffic on a small level at least for my school.


I live in NJ too. I'd be curious to hear which school are you going to.

SSDriver wrote:

I do not want to get blasted for asking this but I have no concept of what it costs to produce a LSA. Are the profit margins that tight on these things?


Probably pretty thin. A simple benchmark would be to look at the RV-12. It costs ~$65k to built it yourself!


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:47 am 
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matthew wrote:
A simple benchmark would be to look at the RV-12. It costs ~$65k to built it yourself!


That's an excellent benchmark. Now, consider that an optimistic estimate of RV-12 build time is 700 person-hours. If we value a builder's labor (arbitrarily) at $50/hr, that adds $35,000 to the value, bringing it up to $100k. If an RV-12-type S-LSA can sell for $110k, that means there's a 10% margin to be split between importers, distributors, and dealers. (Even if we could bump the price up to $130,000, that only leaves $10k for each of the three middle layers). So, there is essentially no margin in this business!

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The opinions expressed in this post are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the position of the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof. H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D., CFII, LSRM-A/GL/WS
AvSport of Lock Haven
http://AvSport.org fly@AvSport.org


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:13 pm 
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As SSDriver pointed out, for the vast majority of potential new pilots, 110-130k is way over the top for what is essentially a very nice toy. The problem is now, while the sport pilot license is much cheaper and easier to get, for most of us when we price it out it is actually more expensive. I would love to have one of those new LSA's or even kind of new. They look like a ton of fun and the costs to operate are very affordable. I have no doubt that in a few years there will be more models and more kit type planes specifically designed for sport aviation. That should give the "average" guy a real chance at being able to own or enter into a partnership. At the very least it should allow for far more rentals than we currently have.

As for the costs to build I am sure that many of the builders can do it much faster than the average homebuilder and since most are being built overseas I would guess that the average wage to build is much less than it would be in the US. It still does not look like a ton of profit and I am sure they have other costs such as insurance.

I have no idea if these guys are legit but there is a website on the internet that states they will build your RV-12, fly it off, do the paperwork and deliver it within 500 miles of Salt Lake for 13k. That does not look like a bad deal at all.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 6:41 pm 
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Flying today in America is - comparatively - amazingly inexpensive if one can shed one single trait that plagues most Americans: the need to solely own something, even if the person only uses it 50 or 75 hours in an entire year.

The storage rental business has been a booming success in the 90's and 00's. In fact, demand so far outstripped supply that multiple businesses were created just to put more storage rooms on people's front lawns. If you visit a marina, it will be mostly full of boats - even on a sunny weekend day. If you had xray vision, you'd find almost every a/c hangar has at least one plane in it. Drive down a neighborhood street and you'll see many homes have a PWC, an RV or trailer, and/or a 3rd (or 4th) car parked.

Sadly, it's our new version of the disease Consumption.

Here's a typical example of how affordable flying can be: You could buy one of 4 shares in a Cherokee 180 at one of our local fields (CRG) for less than $10K, be unlikely to experience a schedule conflict once in a year (it's not flown much), split the hangar/insurance/annual costs four ways, and even dial back the O-360 when doing local flying and burn no more than 7 gph. The plane is well cared for with no squawks, and it produced a huge batch of fun for two of the owners several months ago when it was both magic carpet and adjunct motel room at AirVenture.

An unusual circumstance? Next airport down (SGJ) there's a one-fourth share in a nice Grumman Cheetah available. IFR certified with a Garmin 430 (GPS enroute and precision approaches available), one owner is a Northrup Grumman engineer who is constantly fondling the mechanicals, two other partners never fly it (in two years!) and #4 wants to sell his share for $15K (but he'll probably end up taking less). How is this not affordable for at least some of the many folks who claim to have had a lifelong desire to fly?

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