November 2009 Issue
Maintaining Your LSA : Few Lurking Land Mines
Procedures exist to repair 60-year-old Aeroncas and brand-new Sport Cruisers alike. But owners may have a bigger roleóand headacheóthan they expected.
Back when this whole LSA thing was being conceived, part of the appeal was simplicity: Two seats, fixed-pitch prop, a couple instruments ... what could go wrong? Actually, a lot can go wrong, break or just plumb wear out. So-called legacy LSAs can have over half a century on their airframes. Corrosion and fatigue mean just about anything can snap. For a Piper J-3, thatís no problem. You could literally build a J-3 from scratch with available replacement parts. For an Aeronca C-3, your options are limited. Flying a new light sport (S-LSA) doesnít guarantee parts and support will be simple. Your experience will almost entirely depend on how the company built the aircraft, how well they prepared for maintenance and how long they stay in business. Old or new, the first step in protecting yourself is understanding why LSA maintenance is different and knowing what questions to ask before you buy. Supportability for legacy LSAs is primarily a numbers game. If enough airframes of a particular are model flying, then itís probably worth someoneís trouble to supply parts. Thatís what makes models like the Piper J-3 (Cub) and PA-11 (Cub Special), or the Aeronca 7AC (Champ) and 11AC (Chief) good picks.
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