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!

AVweb flies the Aeroprakt A22LS

avweb-dennisOur very own Dennis Long of Aeroprakt USA takes AVweb’s Geoff Rapoport for a flight in the A22LS at Sebring, Florida during the recent Sport Aircraft Expo.

Great video Dennis – not too sure about the colour scheme…

AVweb describes itself – rather modestly – as ‘the world’s premiere independent aviation news resource’ and they certainly have a wealth of interesting content and aircraft reviews. Have a browse.

One of my personal favourites is Paul Bertorelli’s rather sarcastic comment on the huge patterns – ‘circuits’ to us non-USA pilots – which instructors use when training. It’s one of my personal gripes at my home airfield, where sometimes club aircraft doing circuits seem to set out on scenic flights along the bay during the downwind leg. I was taught, admittedly by military instructors, to take-off, climb to 500 feet AGL, then make a turn and climb cross-wind to 1,000 feet AGL, then turn downwind. I fully accept that a Foxbat or Vixxen will get to these heights much quicker than a C150 or C172. However, even when I’m doing circuits in my relatively leisurely Interstate Cadet, the club Cessnas are usually way outside of me. It makes circuits a real chore as it’s very bad manners to cut inside. And, as Paul comments, it tends to train pilots to do long, straight in approaches, using engine to ‘drag’ the plane in to the threshold, which is not always possible in ‘real’ life.

As usual, either click the picture to take you to the A22LS video, or click here: AVweb flies the Aeroprakt A22LS