The elephant in the aeroplane

In Light Sport Aircraft (LSAs) and Recreational Aviation (RA) – indeed in all flying machines – weight is a key factor. In fact it could be said that weight is THE factor when it comes to light aircraft design – strong (meaning heavy) enough to do the job, yet light enough to carry a reasonable load within the legal regulations of its category. Of all categories, LSAs and RAs have probably the most stringent weight limits applied to them.

Yet in almost all LSA/RA flight reviews I read, there is little or no mention of usable load, empty weights or maximum gross weights. How come nobody discusses this key topic – the elephant in the room? The aircraft may look and fly great but if the usable load is so limited that carrying a couple of typically sized people and a reasonable amount of fuel will take you outside the legal limit for the aircraft – what use is it?

At the recent Avalon Airshow, I wandered around looking at a wide selection of LSA and RA offerings. Many of them were kind enough to display data including empty and maximum weights alongside the aircraft.

All the aircraft I looked at posted a maximum gross weight of 600 kgs or, in a couple of cases, 550kgs and 544kgs. There was a seaplane with a maximum of 650kgs.

The declared empty weights varied between 312kgs and 530kgs although one of them went to the trouble of blanking out the empty weight for some reason. Excluding the anonymous empty weight and the 530kgs machine, the average empty weight of all the LSA/RA aircraft I photographed worked out at a whisker over 360kgs.

One well-known LSA showed – for what appeared to be identical models – empty weights of 360kgs and 390kgs. What, I wondered, could make such a large difference? there appeared to be no parachute rescue system in either, so I (at least) was puzzled.

So let’s have a look at usable loads. Taking a maximum gross of 600kgs, minus the average 360kgs empty weight, leaves you with 240 kgs for fuel, people and baggage. Typical pilots these days tend to weigh in at around 95+ kgs, passengers anything from 60 -100kgs+ – a total for people from around 165-195kgs. Some would say I’m being optimistic! I have certainly seen two big 100kgs+ people get out of an LSA on many occasions. But let’s stick to an average of 180kgs total for people. That legally leaves about 60kgs for fuel and bags. Fuel weighs around 0.72kgs per litre, so without bags you have about 80 litres of fuel. As an absolute minimum, you probably need to allow at least 5kgs for ‘bags’ – remember, tie-down kit, maps, aircraft cover, removable navigation/GPS equipment, headsets, cameras, clothing etc all count as ‘bags’.

Worst case scenario: your aircraft empty weighs 390kgs – see above. You weigh around 100kgs with your boots, headset and clothes on, your passenger the same. You’ve got a 2kgs tie-down kit in the back and your trusty portable GPS on board, plus your passenger’s camera kit. It all adds up to well over 590kgs – leaving less than 10 kgs for fuel, or around 13-14 litres….any more and you’re flying illegally in a 600kgs maximum gross aircraft.

So, what can you do with the elephant? Setting aside the regulations for the class, which lay down maximum empty weight limits based on engine power and number of seats, what implications does this have for buyers and, in particular, flying schools, who want to stay within legal load limits?

First, make sure, before you buy, what is the actual empty weight and thus the usable load. Beware of statements like ‘from 295kgs’ as this weight is often an absolute factory minimum, with no oil, or battery, or bigger ‘standard’ wheels/tyres, wheel spats, radio, antenna, even (in one case I know of) seat cushions and flight instruments. Don’t accept assurances that the factory already weighed your aircraft so you don’t need to – I know of a number of occasions where a repaired aircraft had to be re-weighed and came in much heavier than before repair – in one case somehow gaining over 40kgs (yes, really!) compared with the original factory weight sheet.

Get a written guarantee of the empty weight of the aircraft you’re buying or ask for the aircraft to be weighed just before you take delivery, it’s worth the money – and remember, the manufacturer wants to sell you an aircraft and won’t be the one copping it when you get ramp-checked, or the insurance company refuses to pay out because the plane was flying over the legal weight limit. Or your flying school is audited with a random weight check.

Next, work out your true weight and that of your passenger/co-pilot – including boots/shoes and clothing. Add that to the real aircraft empty weight to work out how much fuel and baggage you can carry. Can you still carry full fuel as well as people and bags? If not how much are you prepared to compromise? Personally, I have a 2-3 hour bladder, so I don’t often need full (fuel) tanks. But what about that 2-hour flight to a place with no fuel, plus the journey home?

Even if you and your passenger are quite light, remember that when you come to sell the aeroplane, the customer might be a flying school, or a lot heavier than you, potentially limiting your sales options.

There’s another one I hear a lot: ‘the plane’s safe to 750kgs gross, so you don’t need to worry’. But you DO. Safe it may be, legal it’s not…remember ramp checks and insurance companies?

Last but not least is the issue of centre of gravity (CofG). The CofG limits are calculated to fit in with the maximum gross weight of the aircraft – how many owners/pilots of LSA/RA aeroplanes actually calculate the CofG before taking their (maybe slightly heavier) friend for a quick morning flight? Tanks full? Feels a bit slow to lift off? Or maybe too quick, with a rearward CofG? No problem, the plane will fly OK…until it doesn’t. Read some accident reports about exceeding CofG limits.

Some people might feel I’m being a bit picky – after all, how often do you get ramp checked? Or insurance companies weigh the aircraft before paying out? Actually, surprisingly often. But the laws of physics can’t be denied; if you frequently fly at or over the aircraft weight limit, it will wear out much quicker. Safety margins are compromised and the flying characteristics will become more and more like a heavier GA-type aircraft. The cruise will be slower, the stall will be higher and you stand much more chance of bending the landing gear if you come down a bit heavy.

Ignorance of the true empty weight of your aeroplane is no defence. Don’t ignore the elephant! You have been warned!

Testing an Airmaster constant speed propeller on the Foxbat

For the last 45 flying hours, we have been evaluating an Airmaster electric constant speed propeller on our Aeroprakt A22LS Foxbat demonstrator and comparing it with the standard on-ground adjustable 3-blade KievProp.

For those of you not familiar with the New Zealand manufactured Airmaster prop, it is a superbly made and easy to use piece of kit. This particular example was retro-fitted after the aircraft arrived in Australia and installation was straightforward. It is a Rotax mandatory requirement that a manifold pressure gauge is fitted with a constant speed propeller, so this was included too.

After discussion with Airmaster, the prop was fitted with three WWR70Z Whirlwind blades, with an overall diameter of 1775mm (about 70″).

Operation of the prop pitch is via a control unit on the instrument panel (it fits into a standard 2.25″ hole), which connects electrically with a motor inside the prop hub, which changes the pitch of the blades. The control unit has a rotating knob with four settings: ‘Take-off’, ‘Climb’, ‘Cruise’ and ‘Hold’. For the Rotax 912ULS engine, these settings correspond to full power RPM values of 5800, 5500 and 5000 respectively. The ‘Hold’ position keeps the RPM to whatever setting you choose, so long as the pitch angle can accommodate. There’s also a small up/down switch for ‘Auto’ and ‘Manual’ operation. Finally there’s a separate spring loaded pitch toggle ‘coarse/fine’ switch which enables you to change the pitch manually. [The evaluation propeller did not have the ‘Feather’ setting on the rotary switch as shown in the photo – this is intended for use on motor gliders. However, the propeller can still be feathered by holding down the lower switch for 5 seconds. There is also a controller with a reverse setting, aimed at seaplanes.]

In normal use the system is very simple to operate – when you’re lined up on the runway, ensure you’ve set the switch to ‘Auto’ and dialled up ‘Take-off’ and apply full power. The engine revs to its 5800 redline and the aircraft takes off like a scalded cat! At about 200 feet above ground, still on full power, rotate the dial to ‘Climb’ and the RPM drops back to 5500, the maximum continuous RPM for the 912ULS. Finally, when you are ready, dial in ‘Cruise’ and throttle back as needed. At altitudes below about 2500 feet we tended to adjust the ‘Cruise’ throttle to give about 25-26 inches of manifold pressure at 5000 RPM.

As an additional piece of information, we checked the static thrust of the Airmaster propeller at full throttle and 5800 RPM, using a calibrated strain gauge, and compared it with the standard KievProp at the same static full throttle RPM.

So, what did we find?

At 5800 RPM on full throttle, the Airmaster developed around 200-205 kilograms of static thrust, compared with about 195-200 kilos from the KievProp. When you take into account that the Airmaster prop is about 12.5 kilos heavier than the KievProp, at these RPMs and power settings, the props were in effect generating about the same thrust per kilo of aircraft weight.

In comparison with the KievProp, the Airmaster gave similar take-off distances and climb rates, although the KievProp had a slight edge above 200 feet, as it remained at 5800 RPM compared with the Airmaster 5500 ‘Climb’ setting. Rotax allows a maximum of 5 minutes running at 5800 RPM, so if you’re in a hurry, you can leave the prop/engine running at this speed. For both the Airmaster and KievProp, 5 minutes at 5800 RPM will get you well over 5000 feet above your take-off point!

When joining the circuit for landing, we reduced power and changed the prop setting in stages – ‘Cruise’ around the middle of downwind, ‘Climb’ at the start of base and ‘Take-off’ somewhere down final approach, so that full power was available in the event of a go-around. The Airmaster gave a noticeable ‘airbrake’ effect when moved to fully fine pitch, increasing the descent angle. Similarly, in the event of an engine out glide, it would be a good idea to set the prop full coarse (or even feather it) with the manual setting, to reduce drag from the stopped or windmilling prop.

The main differences come out at the ‘Cruise’ setting of 5000 RPM. At this setting the Airmaster gave a steady 95+ knots True Air Speed (TAS) – we are lucky enough to have a Dynon D10A on our panel, which shows TAS. The fixed (on-ground adjustable) KievProp set to give 5800 RPM on take-off could only manage around 80+ knots in the cruise at 5000 RPM. However, when set to the factory recommended pitch (giving about 5100 RPM on take-off) the KievProp will at least match the Airmaster cruise speed at 5000 RPM, although take-off and climb will not be quite as spectacular.

And there you have it in a nutshell – the Airmaster will give you great take-off performance and a good cruise speed in the same flight. The standard fixed-pitch KievProp you can achieve fantastic take-off performance or a good cruise speed, but not both in the same flight. However, the ‘factory’ setting will at least match (and maybe even exceed) the cruise speed of the Airmaster, albeit with a small dent in the take-off distance and climb out rate.

Whether the Airmaster is worth losing around 12.5 kilos of load capacity and a cost of around A$13500 (about US$9750) including GSTax, installation and manifold gauge, is a question only each individual owner can answer.

Glider towing with the A22LS Foxbat

Sunday 17 March 2017 dawned clear and a relatively cool 20 celsius at Tyabb Airport. My friend Mike Rudd and I were flying that morning up to Benalla, north of Melbourne, to submit our A22LS Foxbat demonstrator to the Gliding Club of Victoria to test-tow a couple of gliders.

The flight from Tyabb to Benalla was uneventful except for a thick smoke haze up to about 6000 feet due to the smouldering remains of some large bushfires in the area and an almost total lack of wind. About an hour and 20 minutes after take-off, were touching down at Benalla. Gliders were already in the air, albeit in much smaller numbers than the last time we visited, just over 3 years ago.

I flew a short acclimatisation flight with Rob Pugh, the tow pilot for the day (I am not licensed to tow); he made one of the smoothest landings I have experienced in someone who had never flown the type before. Very reassuring for the remainder of the morning! Rob then did a couple of circuits on his own to check out the Foxbat handling without my 85 kilos of ballast in the passenger seat – anyway, towing is only permitted with one person on board.

The first glider – a single seat SZD51 Junior with gliding instructor Steve Hobby on board – was hooked up and, with GoPros activated on the Foxbat, Rob applied full power and took off. Temperature on the ground was about 30 Celsius (about 85-86 Fahrenheit), giving a density altitude at ground level of well over 2500 feet. There was almost no wind at all. Tow time to 2000 feet AGL (2500 feet on the QNH, about 5750 density altitude) was almost exactly 6 minutes and Rob was back on the ground just over 3 minutes later.

Next up was a 2-seat Twin Astir glider with just one person on board. This glider is affectionately known as the ‘concrete swan’ – the heaviest 2-seater in the club, so it would be interesting to see how long it took for the trip. In the event, tow time to the same altitude took only 30 seconds longer and Rob was back on the ground again, around 3 minutes after release.

We are making a short video of the test-towing which will be uploaded to our YouTube channel shortly. Meanwhile, Rob had a few candid comments about Foxbat towing. “Of course”, he told us, “with only 100hp available, the Foxbat won’t be competing with our Pawnees [my note: one of which has a liquid cooled Chevrolet V8 engine!]. But the Foxbat performed very well, considering the lack of wind and the high density altitude. The total take-off to landing times of just over 9 minutes worked out much better than the 13-14 minutes we were expecting. I think the high lift wing really helps it outperform many other Rotax engined types when towing”.

Successful glider towing is a complex equation – it’s not just how long it takes to reach altitude, it’s also the total air time on the tug (based on which, the glider pilot/customer pays), fuel costs, maintenance costs and any depreciation costs on the aircraft tug – many club towing aircraft have been written down to zero in value over the years.

However, the overall exercise was to determine how well the A22LS Foxbat performed – and the answer seems to be ‘much better than expected for such a small aircraft’. This feedback, together with excellent reports from other countries using the A22 for glider towing, confirms our belief that the aircraft will handle 75-80% of  typical towing tasks at around a third of the costs.

 

High risk turns

Here’s a great video by legend Wayne Handley, all about the use of rudder in turns. Although written primarily for ag pilots, the lessons he gives are equally applicable to pilots who often fly close to the ground – for example when stock counting or mustering – or even just the rest of us when we make that last turn at 500 feet on to final approach to land.

His explanation of what causes one wing to stall before the other is excellent, as are his instructions for spin avoidance and wing-drop recovery.

Although posted nearly 10 years ago, the lessons in the video are just as important today as they ever were! Great stuff from Wayne Handley and a quarter hour well-spent!

As usual, to view the Vimeo video, click on the picture or here: Smart Turn by Wayne Handley

What’s in a (Foxbat) colour?

In Australia, Aeroprakt aircraft come in a range of ‘standard’ colours – white, yellow, orange, red and blue. We are lucky in being able to paint our aircraft these vibrant colours – something denied to composite aircraft builders, where differential heating of colours can wreak havoc on the strength of glass fibre and other composites.

Throughout the world, colours can signify different things, often with cultural and other connotations beyond their simple names.

Here are a few thoughts to ponder around the ‘standard’ colours of our aircraft.

Blue – has long been considered a spiritual colour, ‘the vault of heaven’, the colour of the sky. But the use of blue as a colour is comparatively recent in human civilisation, as natural blue pigments are relatively rare in nature. Blue is sometimes called one of the primary colours, although the idea of blue, red and yellow as primary colours is a modern and Euro-centric concept. The ‘classical primaries’ – white, black, red and yellow – excluded blue, which only really arrived in Europe in the 13th century, as ultramarine. Ultramarine was incredibly expensive, being derived from the semi-precious stone, lapis lazuli, and at one time ultramarine was even more valuable than gold. In Australia, blue Foxbats make up about 5% of the fleet.

Red – has been historically associated with aggression and courage. Not for nothing did the soldiers and commanders of the Roman empire wear red. But red can also signify love and fertility. In many countries brides wear red and the colour also signifies good fortune and happiness. In the Christian church, red signifies the blood of Christ; as a result, it was adopted by monarchs all over Europe as a sign of their power, and by merchants as an indication of status. And, as everyone knows, red aeroplanes fly much faster than other colours! In Australia, red Foxbats and Vixxens make up about 10% of the fleet.

Orange – was originally considered to be a shade of yellow by the Egyptians and only became the modern ‘orange’ (from the Sanskrit ‘naranga’) in the mid 16th century. Before that, in China and India, the colour took its name from saffron, not the citrus fruit. In many cultures, orange is considered a colour of spiritual transformation. For example, in Buddhism, orange is the colour of illumination, the highest state of perfection. In western civilisations, orange is seen as a combination of red and yellow, signifying creativity, warmth and change. In Australia, orange Foxbats and Vixxens account for just over 10% of the fleet and growing.

Yellow – in almost all cultures is associated with the sun, with gold recognised as the strongest yellow of all. To the ancient Egyptians, gold represented the flesh of the gods and was thus used extensively to decorate the tombs of the pharaohs. In Greek mythology, the sun-god Helios wore a yellow robe while riding his chariot across the heavens. But yellow also has some conflicts – on the one hand, sunshine, optimism and enlightenment, while on the other, pale yellow has sometimes been used to represent cowardice. But I always think of yellow as the most luminous colour of the spectrum, always attracting the eye to its presence. In Australia, yellow is the most popular colour for Vixxens, and in particular, Foxbats, where it represents over 40% of the fleet.

White – lead white, was in continuous production for over 2000 years. This, the purest of whites, is derived from the oxidation of metal lead into flakes of its oxide, hence the common name of ‘flake white’ in many parts of the world. However, this very toxic lead variant of white has now been completely superseded by non-toxic titanium white. There are almost as many different shades of white as there are stars in the sky. Technically, white is not a colour, as it is a combination of all colours. White usually signifies purity, innocence, and integrity and in western cultures it is common for brides to wear white at their wedding. In the majority of cultures, white also means the beginning of life, and in some it is used as a predominant colour for funerals, intended to signify the end of one life and the beginning of the next. In Australia, white is the second most popular colour for Vixxen and Foxbat aircraft, representing almost 35% of the fleet.

The remainder of our fleet is made up of various other colours – green is in a vivid minority of three, with blue-black, mid-grey, grey & white and dark red having one each.

Having given you some insights into the history and meanings of our base aircraft colours, it probably remains that individual choice of colour for a customer’s aircraft is more dependent on how easily they can be seen in the sky and their partner’s colour preferences! So I think yellow and white will remain the main choice of colour for some time to come – although orange is gaining in popularity all the time.

For more information on the history and meanings of colours, have a look at books like Chromatopia and The Story of Colour

5 easy steps to change your Foxbat oil

Here’s how to change the oil and filter on your Aeroprakt A22LS Foxbat or A32 Vixxen Rotax 912ULS engine:

1. Prepare for your oil change.
Make sure you have the following items ready:

  • A copy of the current Rotax Line Maintenance Manual for your engine. Whatever else follows, you should observe the requirements of this manual!
  • Three litres of suitable oil – we recommend Shell Sport Plus 4 oil as it is compatible with both unleaded and leaded fuel.
  • A Rotax approved replacement oil filter canister.
  • A fresh copper sealing ring for the oil reservoir drain plug.
  • Lock-wire and lock wire pliers.
  • A pair of side-cutters to remove old lock-wire.
  • 18mm spanner and 17mm spanner or socket to remove the oil reservoir drain plug.
  • 16mm spanner or socket to remove the magnetic plug on the side of the engine near the oil filter. NB> Older engines may have either a hex key or torx socket – check yours first!
  • Torque wrench which covers the range 25Nm
  • A suitable oil filter canister removal and replacement tool.
  • Ideally, a cutting tool to open the old oil filter to check for metal residues. If you don’t have one but know a friendly LAME or L2, they might lend you one.
  • A large container or bucket (with at least a 5 litres capacity) to collect the old oil.
  • Some kind of clean funnel to help you refill the reservoir with new oil.
  • Plenty of old rags to mop up spilt oil.

Then thoroughly warm up the engine – ideally go for a couple of circuits or a 20-minute flight – to ensure the oil is hot and fluid. Do not run the engine inside your shed/hangar!

2. Drain the oil and remove the old filter

The following actions should be completed in a timely fashion, to avoid oil draining out of the hydraulic valve lifters and oil lines. Do not drain the oil and leave (eg) overnight before refilling the next day.

  • After warming the engine, remove the top and bottom engine cowlings. Keep the cowling screws in a safe place. Take off the oil reservoir cap and ‘burp’ the engine several times to ensure all the sump oil is transferred to the reservoir.
  • Place an old oil bucket under the reservoir. Cut off and remove the drain plug lock-wire. Holding the captured nut on the reservoir with a 18mm spanner, use a 17mm spanner to loosen the drain plug. Carefully unscrew the drain plug and remove it together with its copper sealing washer. WARNING! The oil is HOT! Be careful not to drop the drain plug into the oil bucket! Allow at least 15 minutes for the oil to drain out. Remove the old copper sealing ring on the plug and replace with a new one – set the drain plug aside ready for reinstallation. DO NOT MOVE THE PROPELLER WHILE THERE IS NO OIL IN THE ENGINE!
  • While you are waiting for the oil to drain, place plenty of rags or a piece of cardboard under the oil filter to stop oil dripping on to the coolant radiator underneath. Loosen and remove the old oil filter. It contains quite a bit of oil, so remove it as quickly as you can to minimise drips etc onto the coolant radiator. Any oil on the radiator will be blown all over the engine bay when you restart the engine, so it’s important to keep it as clean as possible!
  • Cut and remove the lock-wire and unscrew the magnetic plug in the side of the engine just above the oil filter, using a 16mm spanner.

3. Inspections and records

  • Check the magnetic plug for metal accumulation per the Rotax Maintenance Manual. Some build up of metal particles is acceptable, particularly when the engine is new, as the oil lubricates the gearbox as well as the engine itself. See the Rotax manual for details of acceptable and unacceptable amounts of metal residue. Take a photo of the plug with any metal residue attached and date it for future reference in case you need it for comparison.
  • Clean up the plug with a cloth and some clean fuel and replace it – tighten to a torque of 25Nm. DO NOT OVER-TIGHTEN – remember, this is an aluminium crank case and the steel plug can damage the threads if you use too much brute force. Lock-wire the plug, making sure you replace this correctly so that the plug is held tight in the correct sense and cannot come loose!
  • Cut open the filter canister with a suitable tool and extend the paper oil filter on the bench to its full length. Carefully inspect the filter paper on both sides to identify any excessive metal residues. Check the Rotax manual for details of what is acceptable. Ideally, fold up the filter paper and keep it in a sealed and flight time/dated plastic bag in case you need it for reference at some later date.

4. Refill with new oil and install a new filter

 

  • Clean the oil filter contact face on the engine and install the new oil filter canister per Rotax instructions. Smear some fresh engine oil on the rubber washer/seal in the new filter and screw it back in place by hand. After tightening by hand as much as you can, further tighten the filter by rotating about 270 degrees (¾ of a turn). DO NOT OVER-TIGHTEN! Wipe away any oil spills around the bottom of the filter.
    Some people like to dab a drop of coloured paint (nail varnish is excellent for this) on the oil filter and housing so you can see at a glance if it has started to unscrew.
  • Clean the area around the oil reservoir drain and re-install the drain plug with its new copper sealer/washer. Hold the captive nut on the reservoir with a spanner and use a  torque wrench to tighten the drain plug to 25Nm. Re-lock-wire the drain plug in place. Make sure you do this correctly so that the plug is held tight in the correct sense and cannot come loose!
  • Fill the oil reservoir with 3 litres of fresh oil. Ensure the ignition is switched off and hand-crank the engine about 20 turns of the propeller (in the correct sense, never backwards!) to help refill the complete oil system. Make sure you replace the oil reservoir cap!

5. Finishing up

  • Remove and/or put away/dispose of all the old oil, filter, tools etc. Don’t replace the engine cowlings yet.
  • Pull the aircraft out of the hangar and ensure it’s well away from anything loose that might get sucked into the prop.
  • Get in and start the engine. Watch the oil pressure gauge to ensure the oil pressure is rising within 10-20 seconds. If not, shut down. Check there is oil in the reservoir. Ensure all switches including ignition, are OFF and, using the propeller blades, hand-crank the engine for 5-10 rotations of the propeller. Restart the engine and adjust to around 2300-2500 rpm.
  • If the pressure still does not rise within 10-20 seconds, shut down and carry out a full check of the oil system to ensure there are no loose hoses and that you did actually refill the oil reservoir!
  • If the pressure rises OK, run the engine for about 15 minutes at various rpm until it is well warmed through. Shut down and check for oil leaks – particularly round the oil filter, magnetic plug and reservoir drain plug.
  • If all is OK, replace the engine cowlings and you’re ready for the next flight!

Why LSAs crash so much

I have long held a view that Light Sport Aircraft (LSAs) are not, as many people seem to think, just less expensive ‘mini’ GA aircraft.

For a start, they are built to much tighter weight tolerances than typical GA aircraft and thus need careful maintenance to ensure that they remain airworthy. Don’t get me wrong – a correctly maintained LSA can have a life span of many many years – but alas, in Australia, quite a few LSAs are quite legally owner-maintained by people who do not really have the skills, experience or knowledge to do so….but that’s another rant.

More importantly, LSAs have quite different flight handling characteristics from typical GA aircraft. This starts with taxiing, where dyed-in-the-wool GA jocks often describe them as ‘squirrely’, through to take-off performance: what typical school GA trainer will take off in 4-5 seconds after applying power, as many LSAs will? In the cruise, the light wing loading of most LSAs (remember, the regulation requires a stall speed limit of 42 knots ‘clean’) is more susceptible to turbulence – although the great upside of most LSAs is that they are a lot more responsive (to some, ‘fun’) on the controls.

This responsiveness, however, can potentially cause problems when it comes to the approach and landing phase of flight. For a start, approach and landing speeds of most LSAs are around 50 knots or even slower, a speed which feels dangerous to many GA pilots. Come in faster and you’ll likely over-control, and/or float or balloon the aircraft, with potentially disastrous consequences.

To further expand our thinking, Paul Bertorelli of AVweb has made a great little video on the subject of accidents in LSAs, which you can view by clicking on the picture above or here: Why Light Sport Airplanes suffer so many crashes

Most of Paul’s statistics refer to the USA market but all of his comments apply to LSAs the world over. Enjoy the video!