Reading the NTSB’s rare URGENT safety recommendation against the Zodiac CH-601XL light sport aircraft, it’s apparent that if you fly one of these, you’re a credulous test pilot.
(This is an Evektor Aerotechnik Sportstar, similar to the Zodiac CH-601XL and also referred to below.)
The NTSB cited six fatal accidents since 2006 where the Zodiac came apart in flight. In all six, ten people were killed.
Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) is a new FAA category of aircraft. LSAs are manufactured with a lot less oversight than “regular” FAA-certified planes. That way you can afford one and become a Light Sport Pilot (limited to flying tiny Light Sport Planes) in as little as half the training necessary to become a “regular” Private Pilot. Thus far, Light Sport Aircraft are a sort of diet version of “regular strength” planes that require only “diet” flight training. (Sport pilots may only fly in very good weather during daylight hours.)
Why are planes getting cheaper? So you can afford to learn to fly. New planes and learning to fly has become so expensive, there aren’t enough new student pilots to maintain the pilot population. Private pilots are becoming extinct. Fewer pilots mean fewer hours flown and insufficient use to maintain the infrastructure of airports and services relied upon today.
But, when fewer rules govern airplane makers, buyers BEWARE!
If a plane looks snazzy, it may fly that way! (Or not so much.)
Never premature with product development, the Cessna Aircraft Company is flight testing its own LSA. It’s called the Cessna 162 SkyCatcher. Buyers are waiting until 2011 when Cessna will start deliveries of over 1,000 firm orders that were first placed in 2007.
Watch this video. Convince yourself that Light Sport planes, like those sold today (the deadly Zodiac CH-601XL for example) are not manufactured, engineered or tested to the extent Cessna puts forth in every plane it sells:
I’m not sure this person’s spent much time at a small airport watching little planes pound in (as they have for decades). Unlike cars, the average age of a single engine plane is over 30 years old. Their safety and strength is proven having endured a very long time.
My email ruffled the feathers of the SportStar LSA manufacturer (the wilted plane maker).
Dear Mr. Wilson,
I´ve received your e-mail regarding our light sport aircraft the SportStar – see bellow.
Probably you don´t have enough information about our airplanes and experience from the LSA market otherwise you wouldn´t distribute such incorrect information.
I would like to inform you that the SportStar airframe comes from EASA JAR-VLA certified pilot training airplane the Harmony JAR-VLA.
Aircraft was fully tested, incl. fatigue tests, all strength tests, drop tests, crash tests, etc. Together with the European version of the SportStar there are around 800 aircraft in operation in 40 worldwide that have proved excellent reliability and safety record of the SportStar.
I´m persuaded that with respect to my today´s e-mail you will stop immediately distribution of these incorrect information that demage name of our product and name of our company. We wouldn´t like to be forced to take further steps in this matter.
I remain with best regards,
Well, Mr. Kotek, the NTSB reports you suck. Following the death of two people killed in your plane recently, the NTSB probable cause reads: “…inadequate information for preflight planning provided by the manufacturer, and the insufficient standards for Pilot Operating Handbook information required by the ASTM consensus standards.”
Stupid pilots. (Perhaps, but I’m being sarcastic.)
Now, don’t you go and be one too. Stick with Cessna.