Al Marsh

Light sport prices going up

December 1, 2011 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

This Pittsfield, Mass., Aerotrek is headed into the January "Pilot." That's owner Bob Sullivan preparing for our air-to-air photoshoot. (Click to enlarge.)

Cessna Aircraft can hold down the price of the two-place light sport aircraft (LSA) Skycatcher no longer, and says in 2012 it will be $149,900, although many previous options will now become standard equipment. It started out at $110,000 and had drifted up to $115,000. At those prices, it was below cost. So much for the 2004 dream that maybe some of the light sport aircraft could start at $20,000 but rise no higher than $60,000 when tricked out. The lowest-cost LSAs are about $80,000, but have lots of bells and whistles. You’ll see a report in the January issue of AOPA Pilot on the full-featured Aerotrek at $78,000, and Pipistrel, a company gaining fame for its electric aircraft work, says it will develop a low-cost two-place LSA trainer.

Pipistrel proposed trainer

When the announcement was first made, the Pipistrel price in euros amounted to $83,000. Now, five days later, the Pipistrel price of 59,000 euros amounts to $74,800.  Great price, but the airplane isn’t in production yet. What to do? There’s always the used LSA market to provide lower-cost airplanes, and that is growing with the increase in the LSA fleet. In fact, you can buy the Aerotrek you’ll read about in January–for the right price. I’ve flown it, and it’s a terrific airplane. So do I have the money? Well, not at this time…or times in the past. Future times don’t look all that flush, either. Fun to think about, though.

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17 Responses to “Light sport prices going up”

  1. Ric John Says:

    Your article points out the obvious… Like everything els, flying has just become a dream for the middle class. Just too expensive and as such after 30 years of flying will probably never fly again.

  2. Cecil E. Chapman Says:

    Skycatcher is severely overpriced at $149K. Consider for not much more that you could get a relatively recent model 4 place 172SP? Not much more (relatively speaking) and you get a more capable aircraft. Cessna is going to shoot themselves in the foot on this one – and all that after betraying their loyal employees and shipping off production to China. Shameful, for all the loyal years that America and their American employees gave it. I really think, just my opinion, that Cessna could care less about the ‘average joe’ pilot and that their production and development focus is more on the corporate personal jet market. Sad,,,,, just a pitiful situation.

  3. Mike Zias Says:

    So here I am at 62 yrs. and my childhood dream of flying is in progress. I started lessons at 58, passed my checkride last year, and fly reasonably often even though I am only a part tie employee these days. How? My instructor formed a flying club and 8 guys (pilots and student pilots) pitched in and bought a 1973 Piper Cherokee 140 for about $23,000. We have private hanger space at the airport (Bradford, PA), have full insurance, and fly for about $120. per hour (wet) that covers all expenses. It can still be done!

    Mike Zias
    Twin Tier Aviation Association

  4. Norman Davis Says:

    Well the industry and Cessna have done it again. Raising prices as an exclusionary tactic. These flimsy LSA machines are way over priced for the lousy performance they offer.

    Reading an associated article about the ire of the LSA industry regarding the propsal to FAA and the “Driver’s License Medical: Too bad guys. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for you. You swore up and down that it would reduce aviation costs. Well speaking through both sides of your mouths doesn’t wash. Obviously lying is easier than the truth.

    I’m stuck with a very nice Cessna 120 that I can’t sell because of the LSA rules. So to FAA and LSA industry thanks for the shaft and stab in the back.

  5. Angelo Campanella Says:

    I’ve flown a lot since 1964.. over 4,500 hrs.. A lot of that in my Mooney 201… But that plane was $60000in 1979 would take over $250,000 to replace new. Clearly, this dollar rise is the product of politically induced inflation. Today, over the past very few years, the economy downturn was not answered with political austerity, but with stimulus spending (really merely printing dollars). To quote a future cost in fixed dollars is foolish today. We have yet to see all the “Price Increases” that are scheduled to happen over the next two years. Cessna got caught in that swirl. What was “worth” $120,000 when Skycatcher was announced will cost even beyond $150,000 when buyers will receive delivery, if they accept it. AND the move to build in China did NOT achieve the objective of price reduction. I think that General Aviation Manufacturing is still scheduled to take more hits. And to add insult to injury, the announced policy and goal of the present Administration is to increase the cost of fuel.

  6. Angelo Campanella Says:

    The Paradigm of inflation is more dollars chasing the same quality and quantity of products.
    The paradigm of taxing and tax revenue is not understood by politicians… I know that because they never cite the critical factor of “Velocity of Money”. The more time something is bought at the SAME price, the more profit is made and the more the tax is collected. This is directly linked to people having jobs. Either more persons buying, or the same person buying ore often… Instead short-sighted politicians and congressmen inspire and print more dollars to cover the tax collections not received. That’s been the unfortunate truth all my life. So aviation costs will continue to rise out of the reach of the Middle Class.

  7. don cleveland Says:

    a nice product way over priced i had really wanted one no hope now

  8. Norman Drouillard jr Says:

    So much for cheaper prices at offshore manufacturing plants. Cessna should have manufactured it here to begin with.
    I don’t think this is an entry level aircraft anymore or LSA priced.

  9. Brent Says:

    Been a pilot for 40 years….until Cessna and oil companies forced me into retirement. Thanks for the Christmas gift…the aviation industry.

  10. Dale Smith Says:

    This just proves that flying is a sport for the wealthy. The GA population is dwindling not because people don’t want to learn to fly but because they just can’t afford such an expensive hobby. I am a student pilot and find it hard too afford sometimes even though I make a decent income. I can never dream of owning a new plane. The only way to own my own plane would be to purchase a clean used plane. At least it would be made in the USA and not China!

  11. grumpy Says:

    Want an inexpensive LSA? You can get a used Sonex for around $25,000.00-$32,000.00.
    136 mph on 6 gph, 1200 fpm rate of climb and, if equiped with a Jabiru 3300, approx 160 mph TAS at 9500 ft. ( 120 kts indicated. Still legal.)

  12. Scott Says:

    I don’t know why anyone would buy this LSAT plane when you could get a used cirrus for the same amount of money. I bought my cirrus with dual avidyne screens and only 545 hours on it for under $190,000. And it is a real airplane. I think only flight schools will venture to have these since they are cheaper than a new 172. An net resting thought is that a 172 was only $30000 in 1970 but today it is $250,000 while the average income went from $16,000 to $30,000. Thus incomes have doubled in forty years while aircraft price went up ten times. Put it another way, in 1970 you cold rent a 172 for ten dollars an hour wet, today expect $120 per hour and that’s an old 172. The long term prognostics for general aviation are bad. Most people who own planes are baby boomers or older. Very few people belw fifty own planes. In twenty years the AOPA membership will be half of what it is today.

  13. RDM Says:

    I have had a passion and love of flying in excess of 40 yrs., both as ex-military and civilian flying. Probably few of my fellow men have enjoyed it more than I have. Sadly, the middle class will not be able to enjoy this fun and practical endeavor in the future, because of the outrageous costs. It is little wonder that we are losing the battle to encourage people to participate in pilot training. At a cost of $150K for a LSAT , 99.9999999% of general aviation enthusiasts will not be able to afford the purchase price. Another very real concern is the future safety record of these underpowered toys. My guess is the future accident trend of LSAT types will be directly proportional to their respective time in service (age, flight time, etc). Then general aviation,(AOPA, etc) will have a very difficult time in defending that situation. It is a very sad reality to me that the future of general aviation will consist primarily of flying for “business” purposes. Too bad Cessna and some other manufacturers could not figure out a way to produce a safe, reliable, affordable aircraft,-MADE IN THE USA-

  14. grumpy Says:

    Most homebuilts are MADE IN THE USA.

  15. JoeJoe90 Says:

    The company betrayed America. I hope pilost continue to boycott this America-hating plane. It is a new low in American aviation, that a company would hate the USA so much.

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