August 2008 Issue

Maintaining Light Sport Aircraft

With the proper training, LSA owners safely and legally can do their own maintenance and inspections, helping to hold down the cost of flying.

The light sport aircraft (LSA) community holds strong promise to attract a new population of pilots for a variety of reasons, many of them overlapping. For some, the lower prices for a new airplane—some starting at around $40,000, compared to a base price of $175,000 for an FAA-certified Diamond DA20 Katana, as one example—holds appeal. For others, the draw is the reduced cost of learning to fly: A sport pilot certificate will set back a student between one-third to one-half the cost to obtain a private ticket. And, for some newcomers and a growing number of long-time pilots, the absence of a formal medical examination holds sway. Combined, these forces propelled the delivery of about 2500 factory-new LSAs in the three-plus years since the rules went into effect. Meanwhile, about 2200 have earned their sport pilot certificates and an as-yet unknown—and perhaps unknowable—number of existing pilots received formal transition training required to legally fly LSA-category aircraft.

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