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2016’s Most Popular Light-Sport Aircraft

Since the FAA published its Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) rules which allowed pilots to fly LSAs with a valid driver's license in lieu of a medical certificate, the market has been flooded with a wide array of LSA brands and models. Here’s an overview of the most popular and best-selling light-sport aircraft, courtesy of Plane & Pilot Magazine

American Legend Cub
If you’re into tandem yellow taildraggers, then this is the LSA for you. Headquartered in Texas, American Legend offers several models powered with engines from Continental and Lycoming. Most buyers purchase the fully-built Special LSA models, but a kit version called the Texas Sport is available. You can also get an amphibious float version and all have reasonable price points.

Arion LS-1 Lightning
One of the sleekest designs in the LSA fleet is the all-American Arion LS-1 Lightning. As its sloping curves suggest, the LS-1 Lightning clocks in at the top of the LSA category using a 120 hp Jabiru 3300 engine, yet it slows down well and lands easily. Priced in the lower end of top tier LSA aircraft, it is available in kit form, but can also be delivered ready to fly.

CubCrafters Carbon Cub
Made in America, CubCrafters has a respectable delivery pace of around 50 LSAs a year. The Carbon Cub model is both sleek and powerful with a highly finished appearance that’s commonly sold with a 180 hp Titan engine. Its name comes from the many carbon-fiber elements used to keep weight within parameters.

Czech Sport Aircraft SportCruiser
One of the most recognized models in the LSA fleet, the Czech Sport Aircraft SportCruiser is made in — you guessed it — the Czech Republic, yet is well known among LSA enthusiasts in the states.

The SportCruiser is a low-wing, all-metal airplane with good cross-country speed, yet very low stall speed. The interior is large and comfortable by comparison, and gear can be stored in convenient wing lockers.

Evektor Harmony
Evektor is another Czech enterprise. The Evektor Sportstar was the very first LSA to earn FAA acceptance. The large company of engineers now offers the very sophisticated Harmony model. With its compound all-metal wings, it is smooth, comfortable and well-equipped and more GA-like than many light-sport aircraft on the market.

Flight Design CTLS
Flying at the top of the LSA market share list is Flight Design’s CTLS from Germany. Their latest model is the CTLSi; the “i” identifying its Rotax fuel-injected 912 iS Sport engine, which powers about 75 percent of worldwide LSA aircraft.

Made of 98 percent carbon-fiber, the speedy CTLSi is 10 inches wider than a Cessna 172. All are equipped with an airframe parachute and perform near the top of the category with a range of 1,000 miles.

Jabiru J230
Made in Australia and assembled in Shelbyville, Tenn., Jabiru is the one company in the LSA world that offers both the airframe and engine from the same brand. Jabiru’s J230 utilizes a smooth-running six-cylinder 120 hp Jabiru 3300 on the front of a four-seater, which explains its huge cabin volume and a rare three-door entry design.

This Italian company is the largest and one of the oldest LSA manufacturers in existence, dating back to 1948. With numbers that rival the largest GA producers, Tecnam has several best-selling LSA models, including some high-wing aircraft, and their newest low-wing Astore. Tecnam also has the widest range in the light aviation world including a type-certified four-seater and twin-Rotax aircraft. Their volume allows the company to offer a 10 percent down purchase program with no balance payment due until the aircraft is in the U.S. and ready to deliver.

Van’s Aircraft / Synergy Air RV-12
Aircraft kit fans are probably familiar with Van’s Aircraft, the iconic producer of the most popular kit-built aircraft in the world. Their LSA kit offering is the RV-12, built in partnership with Synergy Air. Their ready-to-fly model has an all-metal design and is available well equipped for around $125,000, making it affordable for many. A kit version is also available.

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