Aircraft Review

January 2015 Issue

Searey Elite: Upscale Amphib LSA

With a Rotax 914, the Elite has improved performance punch over the Sport model, plus an upgraded panel.

Itís probably a journalistic pretense to imply that thereís anything practical about light sport airplanes. Few of them are used for travel and even fewer are flown in the kind of weather that a utilitarian airplane like a Bonanza or Cirrus has to tackle to earn its keep. So in reviewing LSAs, weíre talking about big, expensive toys and that certainly applies to the Searey Elite. If ever there were a pure sport airplane, the Searey amphibian ought to qualify. Itís slow, doesnít carry much, isnít exceptionally comfortable and wonít fly far. But it offsets all that with hell-for-leather fun that buyers looking for something different might find appealing. The Searey began life as an amphibian kit aircraft, evolved to an ELSA and is now selling as a full-up SLSA as the Searey Elite, an upscale, glass cockpit version of what was once a bone-basic airplane. At a $158,000 base price, the Seareyís sticker is about $25,000 higher than a typical land light sport, but less than the soon-to-be Icon A5 ($189,000) and way less than the $370,000 Lisa AKOYA. Since we last examined the Searey in 2009, the company has received an infusion of investment, built a new factory and evolved a new model, the Elite.

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