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Hi Everyone,

I recently joined the forum to learn about the SportCruiser. I'm a returning student with 51 hours. My training abruptly ended in 2015, after my flight school's two C172 were involved in accidents at around the same time. I waited 4 months for the planes to return before giving up and moving on.  I'm now in a different state (Central Massachusetts) and bitten by the aviation bug again. It seems a SC would fit my training and post training mission (day trips down to Cape Cod or up the Maine coast) and I've been looking at used SCs.  

I've spent the past week reading your many posts and have learned that there are issues with "First Gen" SportCrusiers, which explains their more "accessible" prices. I'm wondering if the members of this community could help by pointing out what they see when they come across an ad for one of these early planes. Do you see a lof of problems (that a first time owner should avoid) or do you see a great deal/opportunity? What would it roughly take (time and money) to bring one of these planes to current personal/legal requirements (ELSA conversion, fuel lines, landing gear, ads-b)? I'm interested in future IRF training for safety, so IFR equiped is important even if not IFR capable. Also, night capabilities would be nice.  

Should I be looking at 1960s/70s C172s and PA28s instead?

Thank you for your advice. 

Jose

 

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Hi Jose, Welcome to the forum!

I'm not sure what "problems" the first gen Sportcruisers (or pre-2010 CZAW Sportcruisers) have?  I know that they are lighter (more useful load) and have some winglet and elevator differences versus newer Sportcruisers (2010 and up.)  The older Sportcruisers also had the 1st generation nose gear, but if the owner followed the Service Bulletins, that should have been replaced with a 3rd generation nose gear.  Other than a few issues trying to comply with factory Service Bulletins (due to minor differences in construction), the early Sportcruisers are awesome.  Even more so if converted to E-LSA.

As for the aircraft you're looking at, here's my thoughts, but there are more knowledgeable and eagle-eyed members here that can probably see other things I may have missed:

  • N85PB:  Looks like a nice aircraft.  Very low hours.  Not sure if the 496 is original, or if a 396 should have been in the panel.  BRS needs to be repacked every 6 years, so it will be due this year (if not already.)  Do not see a Garmin GTX-335 (which factory issued as a Service Bulletin for ADS-B compliance).
  • N636SC:  Nice looking plane, but not sure if one of the gauges was changed in the passenger panel with an un-authorized gauge.  Older transponder as well.  Same advisory as above about the BRS repack (should have been done last year on a 2007 aircraft) and ADS-b compliance.  Custom leather interior likely performed without an LOA.
  • N999VS:  Already E-LSA, so that's nice.  Pretty sure it's been repainted, but looks good.  TruTrak EFIS is no longer made or supported, but is functional.  2nd gen nose gear should be updated.  ADS-B compliance will be needed if you fly in Mode-C airspace.
  • N413PS:  Piper Sport - so newer generation plane.  Looks like a nice plane.  Engine is at half time.  Good that it just completed an annual, but you may want to  check logbooks.  I don't think the 796 is original and believe the 696 was the original GPS.  Not sure, but it looks like it's at KSFF (Spokane, Washington) and not Puerto Rico (otherwise getting it here might be a challenge...)

 

 

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34 minutes ago, rtk said:

Hi Jose, Welcome to the forum!

I'm not sure what "problems" the first gen Sportcruisers (or pre-2010 CZAW Sportcruisers) have?  I know that they are lighter (more useful load) and have some winglet and elevator differences versus newer Sportcruisers (2010 and up.)  The older Sportcruisers also had the 1st generation nose gear, but if the owner followed the Service Bulletins, that should have been replaced with a 3rd generation nose gear.  Other than a few issues trying to comply with factory Service Bulletins (due to minor differences in construction), the early Sportcruisers are awesome.  Even more so if converted to E-LSA.

As for the aircraft you're looking at, here's my thoughts, but there are more knowledgeable and eagle-eyed members here that can probably see other things I may have missed:

  • N85PB:  Looks like a nice aircraft.  Very low hours.  Not sure if the 496 is original, or if a 396 should have been in the panel.  BRS needs to be repacked every 6 years, so it will be due this year (if not already.)  Do not see a Garmin GTX-335 (which factory issued as a Service Bulletin for ADS-B compliance).
  • N636SC:  Nice looking plane, but not sure if one of the gauges was changed in the passenger panel with an un-authorized gauge.  Older transponder as well.  Same advisory as above about the BRS repack (should have been done last year on a 2007 aircraft) and ADS-b compliance.  Custom leather interior likely performed without an LOA.
  • N999VS:  Already E-LSA, so that's nice.  Pretty sure it's been repainted, but looks good.  TruTrak EFIS is no longer made or supported, but is functional.  2nd gen nose gear should be updated.  ADS-B compliance will be needed if you fly in Mode-C airspace.
  • N413PS:  Piper Sport - so newer generation plane.  Looks like a nice plane.  Engine is at half time.  Good that it just completed an annual, but you may want to  check logbooks.  I don't think the 796 is original and believe the 696 was the original GPS.  Not sure, but it looks like it's at KSFF (Spokane, Washington) and not Puerto Rico (otherwise getting it here might be a challenge...)

 

 

Wow! Thank you for all this information, rtk! N85PB is cheapest and closest to MA, but as you pointed out N999VS is already E-LSA. No BRS, but the C172s I'm used to don't have one either. I messed up on N413PS... There's a couple of 2010 SportCruisers with the same color scheme and for around the same price for sale in Puerto Rico. I can think of worse things than island hopping to get one back over to the mainland. 

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Hi Jose and welcome. 

RTK is correct, I'm not sure what you've heard about the legacy SportCruisers but they are great planes. Lighter and faster for sure. After 2010 they planes got much heavier and more complex under the cowling causing other issues. The basic airframe itself hasn't changed at all over the years, there are a few subtle differences to the trained eye but side by side they are all the same plane. The newer ones have the modern Dynon avionics but that's about the only difference. A few changes in the flight controls and some taller winglets and a taller panel are the only differences. If you buy a legacy SportCruiser the first thing I'd do is convert to E-LSA and free yourself from a major headache, aka "the factory". :D  Doing this allows you the freedom to make your legacy SportCruiser even better and safer than the current SportCruisers. 

If you need any help or a second pair of eyes to look at any SportCruiser don't hesitate to ask. I for one will help in any way I can as will others on this forum. 

As for your prospects and adding to RTK's great observations:

  • N85PB: while this is a very low hour plane it has damage history. If you want to know more call the seller. This scares many people and will significantly affect the price. A very well equipped SportCruiser. Still has the first gen nose leg, with only 175 hours I doubt it's damaged but would need to be inspected for any cracks or bent spindle. Seller claims it's E-LSA but the FAA database still has it as a S-LSA. If it was converted in the last 30-45 days that would make sense as the FAA database lags by about that many days. 
  •  N636SC: Also still has the first generation nose gear, would need inspected for sure with nearly 1000 hours. The Uavionics ADS-B out is not approved for a S-LSA SportCruiser and there is a wire on a ring terminal grounding the right instrument panel. I see other wires under the panel that are not conventional. There's also a nav light mounted on the rudder that is not factory nor allowed on a S-LSA SportCruiser. It may be the Uavionics tail beacon ADS-B out. Not authorized on S-LSA. You'd have a hard time getting this plane through the annual condition inspection by anyone who knows what they are doing. Interior could be stock as early SportCruiser could be customized by the first owner including paint and interior. It also has an unconventional 6 pack and I'm not a big  fan of steam gauges, can you say 1970's Cessna? :D
  • N999VS: Very nice plane an already E-LSA as RTK pointed out. This is a plus and can be a hurdle with some DAR's out there. Many have had problem trying to convert because of the DAR and minor discrepenticies with the plane. Like the prior two examples. That can also be factory paint as the buyer could have ordered it that way. What gives it away is the weird stripe in front of the N number. That was stopped in early 2008, for obvious reasons. So my money is on original paint. Still very low hours for a 2008. The only red flag I see is the TruTrak EFIS and EMS. Again, as RTK pointed out they are no longer supported and when they die you'll need to upgrade to Dynon....or whatever you like because it's an E-LSA. :D You can add ANY ADS-B out box you want, I'd recommend the GDL-82. If the NLG (nose landing gear) checks out there's no need to update it. The inspection procedure is in the NLG service bulletin and being that it is an E-LSA you are not required to replace it. Adding to this, the seller, Dave Bonnar, is a stand up guy and forum member. This plane is part of an estate sale, it was listed a while back then removed. Not sure if the sale fell through or what may have happened. I'd ask Dave Bonnar about this.
  • N413PS: Nice plane but over 1000 hours, was it in a flight school? 796 is definitely not original but allowed. This plane has a 2" taller instrument panel so if you are height challenged you may find it hard to see over the panel during a steep climb out. Well loaded with all the goodies, just needs ADS-B if you plane to fly in rule airspace. (not sure it it's installed as the ad doesn't state this)

I know I repeated much of what RTK stated and added a few of my own points and hope it helps. Ask any seller for a copy of the log books and they should provide you with an PDF emailed copy for your review. This is where I'd start with any plane you are considering. There are a few red flags with some of these planes. Unfortunately some owners think they can add/change anything they want on their S-LSA SportCruiser but the short answer is, you can not. The factory does not issue LOA's for changes to their aircraft. This is why going E-LSA makes the most sense. Any plane that is already E-LSA has advantages and a major hurdle has been cleared.

Let us know if we can be of more help.

   

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I forgot to answer in regards to IFR and night flight. Many legacy SportCruisers are equipped for night flight so that's the easy one. Make sure you read the operating limitations for the plane you are considering as it's all spelled out in that document.

As for IFR equipped, anything's possible, it just depends on how thick your wallet is. :D Your talking an IFR/GPS WAAS navigator, dual radios, redundant everything, heated pitot tube etc. The bill will add up quickly. You'll need to convert to E-LSA also. There are a few owners who have converted to E-LSA and then IFR equipped their plane but I'm sure it wasn't cheap. If you have that kind of money to spend and you want IFR equipped then you might look at the certified world for an older IFR equipped plane.

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6 hours ago, ShawnM said:

I forgot to answer in regards to IFR and night flight. Many legacy SportCruisers are equipped for night flight so that's the easy one. Make sure you read the operating limitations for the plane you are considering as it's all spelled out in that document.

As for IFR equipped, anything's possible, it just depends on how thick your wallet is. :D Your talking an IFR/GPS WAAS navigator, dual radios, redundant everything, heated pitot tube etc. The bill will add up quickly. You'll need to convert to E-LSA also. There are a few owners who have converted to E-LSA and then IFR equipped their plane but I'm sure it wasn't cheap. If you have that kind of money to spend and you want IFR equipped then you might look at the certified world for an older IFR equipped plane.

🙂 Thanks so much, Shawn. Nope, I don't have that kind of money. Thank you also for your very through answers yesterday. I'm trying to learn by putting your and rtk's messages against the ads. It looks like you and rtk had an exchange about N85PB in Ohio exactly a year ago (on the last page of this thread). I'm thinking of reaching out to the owner and asking for the logs and about the damage history. 

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2 hours ago, Jose Antonio said:

🙂 Thanks so much, Shawn. Nope, I don't have that kind of money. Thank you also for your very through answers yesterday. I'm trying to learn by putting your and rtk's messages against the ads. It looks like you and rtk had an exchange about N85PB in Ohio exactly a year ago (on the last page of this thread). I'm thinking of reaching out to the owner and asking for the logs and about the damage history. 

It may be the same plane and if so it's only flown 5 hours in a year. Not good at all for an aircraft engine. Even then the owner stated it was an E-LSA (if it's the same plane) and he's stating it again but the FAA registry still says it's a S-LSA. If I remember correctly it had major wing damage and had a wing replaced. I think it was an off airport landing if I remember correctly.

A new wing is not a deal breaker for me but I think it is for many people. A thorough inspection of the plane and logbooks is certainly in order. I would even do some measuring of the plane to be sure it's still straight. 

I'd be glad to look at the logbooks with you if you like. It also needs carpet, seems odd it's missing on a plane with only 175 hours. :o 

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1 hour ago, ShawnM said:

It may be the same plane and if so it's only flown 5 hours in a year. Not good at all for an aircraft engine. Even then the owner stated it was an E-LSA (if it's the same plane) and he's stating it again but the FAA registry still says it's a S-LSA. If I remember correctly it had major wing damage and had a wing replaced. I think it was an off airport landing if I remember correctly.

A new wing is not a deal breaker for me but I think it is for many people. A thorough inspection of the plane and logbooks is certainly in order. I would even do some measuring of the plane to be sure it's still straight. 

I'd be glad to look at the logbooks with you if you like. It also needs carpet, seems odd it's missing on a plane with only 175 hours. :o 

Shawn, as usual, is correct.

N85PB is airframe 08SC115, which was previously registered as N797BS.  It was involved in an off field landing in Casa Grande, Arizona in 2009.  (https://www.planecrashmap.com/plane/az/N797BS/)  

Apparently the canopy was not locked down and an emergency off field landing was made near the wind sock where the left wing struck a scrub tree and partially separated the wing and broke the canopy glass.

 

 

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