There are over 14,000 private airports in the United States. That is almost triple the number of public airports that come in at around 5,000. Owning a private plane allows you access to the vast majority of landing-strips nationwide.
Whether you are an experienced pilot or have recently earned your wings, a light-sport aircraft offers many advantages that other planes lack. If you are considering purchasing a plane, don’t overlook the light-sport aircraft category.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the key benefits of owning a light-sport aircraft, how to purchase one, common safety standards, and potential resale value. That way, you can take to the sky with style and grace.
What is a Light-Sport Aircraft?
For short, a light-sport aircraft, or LSA, is a diverse category of small planes that meet specific operational and design criteria. To be considered a light-sport aircraft, a plane’s top speed cannot exceed 120 knots.
It also must have a maximum allowable takeoff weight below 1320 pounds if it is operating non-amphibiously. If the aircraft is taking off or landing in water, this number increases to 1430.
Also, an LSA must have a maximum seating capacity of two people. This includes the pilot. All LSA’s are single-engine aircraft with a depressurized cabin. They must also be equipped with a landing gear if they are non-amphibious and not a glider.
Benefits of Owning a Light-Sport Aircraft
Light sport aircraft are often way cheaper than other forms of fixed-wing airplanes. Many LSA models are available for under $100,000 and even a few for less than $20,000.
This is unheard of in the aviation world. Even the low-end models of traditional fixed-wing craft such as a Cessna will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range.
While airplane ownership has traditionally only been feasible for the upper class, LSA’s affordable prices put the common man in the pilot’s seat.
Light sport aircraft maintain their value over long periods of time and have some of the best resale value for aircraft in general. This ensures that if you choose to invest in an LSA, your asset’s value won’t depreciate much over time. If you are curious about residual or current market values, hire VREF to appraise your aircraft. VREF is the largest aviation specific appraisal firm in the country with a faster completion time and the highest ethical standards. All appraisals are USPAP compliant and completed by an Accredited Senior Appraiser like Jason Zilberbrand, ASA.
LSA’s Are Versatile
In addition to being affordable, LSA’s are versatile. Their light payload capacities, simple designs, depressurized cabins, and ability to land on the water make them the choice classification for bush pilots in remote hard to reach places such as Alaska.
They are often used as trainer planes for potential pilots who are still going through flight school. This is because you do not need any flight testing before piloting.
They Are Simple
Less maintenance is required on LSA’s than traditional planes. Due to the planes’ often simple design, the required maintenance is often easy to complete for the individual pilot.
The small size of LSA’s makes them easily transportable when considering ground logistics. Some can be moved by hand without the use of additional tugs or equipment. This is ideal when working with remote or primitive landing-strips in hard to reach places.
They also take up less size in a hanger allowing you more affordable options to house your plane. LSA’s have less regulatory inspections associated with them and only require a Condition Inspection once a year.
After a simple course, this inspection can be completed by the pilot. Overall, LSA’s allow a pilot to be more independent for a more affordable price.
They also have more potential for modification and a diverse range of uses when compared to traditional planes. All you need to fly one is a private pilot certificate. This makes them an excellent choice for any private plane owner.
How to Purchase a Light-Sport Aircraft
The first step in purchasing an LSA is to identify what specific model you want. You first need to determine what capabilities a plane needs for your intended uses. Then research some planes that fit these criteria and narrow them down.
Once you have done adequate research and selected some models that meet your requirements, it is time for you to familiarize yourself with the values of each. Try using some verified aircraft value reports to determine them.
At this point, you can start to look for your desired aircraft on the open market. There are many websites available that deal specifically with buying and selling aircraft. Some basic aircraft can even be found on places like eBay or Craigslist, but be careful!
If you want a new aircraft, you can order one direct from several popular manufacturers. This is more expensive, but a nice alternative to a low availability used aircraft market. Some companies offer kits, allowing you to assemble your aircraft at home often without any help.
Other sources of aircraft include auctions or private sellers. Make sure to examine the entirety of the marketplace when purchasing your LSA to get the best deal.
At the end of the day, no matter which way you decide to purchase your aircraft, getting a good deal always comes down to proper research beforehand. Make sure to know the common value and features of a plane before closing on a deal.
Take to the Skies in a Light-Sport Aircraft
If you are considering purchasing an airplane, a light-sport aircraft should be on your radar. The price, versatility, and simple designs of these planes make them ideal for any private pilot.
If you are in the buying or pre-purchasing phase, it is important to have trusted professionals aiding you every step of the way. Contact us today to get an aircraft appraised, check out a valuation guide, or for many other aviation-related services.