For would be pilots who still want to learn how to fly but may be put off by the cost of obtaining training and then the costs associated with owning or operating an aircraft, so called light sport aircraft (LSA), that is, an aircraft weighting less that 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms), offers an alternative. In fact and as we have noted in the past, obtaining light sport aircraft training and a sport pilot license is cheaper than obtaining a regular pilot’s license.
However, as Andrew points out on the Lets Go Flying! blog, light sport aircraft have an image problem because in his words “its mostly to older pilots who are concerned about losing their medical.” In fact, Andrew comments:
Show up to any LSA event and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about– those in the cockpits, asking the questions, and working the controls are 70 year old pilots who see an LSA as their only way to keep flying and avoid spending all their money on golf.
Andrew further comments that if the FAA in the USA were to do away with some of the medical certificate requirements for flying other types of aircraft, the light sport aircraft industry would be in serious trouble. However and at the same time, he notes that:
Just as young people don’t want to drive Dad’s Oldsmobile, young would-be pilots won’t want to fly aircraft known for servicing mainly older people.
Andrew may have a valid point here. However, and given the state of the economy, light sport aircraft has remained one of the few bright spots for general aviation even during the lowest depths of the current economic downturn. In fact, some comments to Andrew’s post touch on the increased interest in learning how to fly one being reported by flight schools in the USA and that there are other issues involved that hamper significant growth – particularly when flight schools have more expensive models that they prefer students to use.
Hence, what are your thoughts about so-called light sport aircraft and are they really worth considering as a serious alternative to other types of aircraft?