June 2009 Issue

First Word: 06/09

When the light sport idea morphed out of the ultralight industry not quite a decade ago, the idea was that the airplanes would be simple to build and wouldnít be burdened with excessive regulatory oversight. That part has largely panned out. The parallel implication was that LSAs would be cheap. That part of the dream hasnít materialized. Or has it? Cheap is relative. A new Cirrus SR22 invoices for around $600,000, give or take. A new Bonanza is three-quarters of a million. Compared to those numbers, a $100,000 LSA is, at one-sixth the price, cheap. But some buyers define cheap as under, say, $60,000. In my estimation, youíre not going to see any LSAs in that price range built by a company that will survive the inevitable shakeout. So if any company proposes to prevail selling LSAs at a price point that low, my advice is donít buy it. The quality is unlikely to be there and the company is unlikely to last. As we all know, even companies selling at the right prices are always one or two sales away from bankruptcy.

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