October 2008 Issue
LSA Avionics Upgrades: No Shortage of Options
The regulations for modifying the avionics in a modern Light Sport are lenient. Space, electrical capacity and budget may prove to be much tighter.
As Special Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSAs) begin to occupy more hangars and flight-school flight lines, attention is shifting to aftermarket avionics upgrades. Some owners take delivery with little more than a handheld transceiver, which will hardly cut it in the real world. For others, their checkbooks are simply tempted by a smorgasbord of gee-whiz gadgetry. Retrofitting LSAs is uncharted territory for most avionics shops and most of these lightweights might have unfamiliar engines and, in many cases, minimal electrical systems. LSAs are small, so available space and weight restrictions need to be considered. The rules for return-to-service following an upgrade are different for modern S-LSAs than what’s required of Part 23 aircraft or even a legacy aircraft LSA. What’s fine for your SportStar might not be legal for that vintage Ercoupe. Here are a handful of avionics retrofits suitable for the average S-LSA. Also, we’re talking mainly VFR missions here, while occasionally toying with light IFR if the airplane even has such approval. To be clear: While these machines are considered "little airplanes" by most standards, it’s futile to expect a light invoice for avionics work, even if the equipment is bargain-priced.
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