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New Member from SoCal

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Hello everyone! New member here and looking forward to participating in the discussions.

I am a student pilot in San Diego and have been training on an Aeroprakt Vixen (LSA). I've spent the better part of last year looking high and low for an airplane to purchase (both LSA and GA).  I'm currently zeroing in on a 2009 SC which checks all the boxes for my mission (complete my training and then use it for local personal flying with occasional short trips with the missus).
This particular plane is in my price range, has low hours on a recently OH'd engine, the avionics setup works for me. It is a bit rough around the edges but nothing a bit of TLC and $$'s can't fix. Another point to note is that this plane has been used for training so I would imagine it has had more than a few hard landings. I saw the plane in person and saw that the landing gear has been reinforced and is probably stronger now then when it rolled off the floor.
The only sticking point right now is that the plane has 6000+ hours TT. Now compared to typical GA planes on the market this is not too high but I'm thinking that LSA's are different beasts?  I also found some documentation that said that the "initial airframe life" is 5000 hours. As the experts here probably already know, this number was raised to 11,000 hours when PS was a thing but I don't believe this increase applies to the plane I am looking at.  I contacted the AOPA to see if the 6000 hours makes it INOP or if it can continue to fly if an IA has deemed it to be airworthy. Unfortunately AOPA and a few other seasoned pilots I know were stumped by this.  My understanding is that mfgs typically don't publish "initial airframe life" so there isn't a lot to compare it with.
Any and all guidance from the experts here would be really appreciated.
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Welcome AMZ and good luck with your training. 

You want guidance? A 6000 hour SportCruiser with an overhauled engine that has been used for training..........RUN LIKE HELL FROM THIS AIRPLANE !!!!!!!

There are so many things in your post that are red flags to me. Reinforced landing gear, are you kidding me? How many times has the engine been overhauled or replaced? At least 3 if it has 6000 hours and was used for training. The logs will tell you everything........maybe.

Unless it's been converted to a E-LSA after being used as a S-LSA for training this plane sounds like it has modifications to it that render the airworthiness certificate invalid. Has it been reregistered as a E-LSA? 

I wouldn't touch this plane with a 10 foot pole and if it's priced for more than $35K it's too much.

Even if you are still considering this plane PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do an EXTENSIVE inspection on this plane with a LSRM who KNOWS the SportCruiser. And start with the landing gear. You need to remove the main gear for a thorough inspection because you can't see the cracks in the fiberglass while they are still mounted to the plane. Then an airframe inspection followed by removing the wings and inspecting the spars.

Also, PLEASE don't ask an IA anything, this is a light sport aircraft. And because it is a LSA, it'll never be "airworthy". That's a term for certified aircraft. Talk to a LSRM who know light sport and Rotax.

I urge you to keep looking for a much more suitable aircraft. This plane may be in your budget on the surface because of the purchase price but you will be spending thousands and thousands more on other things you aren't aware of. I could go on for days as to what you need to inspect on a plane with this many hours and abuse from training. You yourself said it's "rough" and that's just what you can see. There are dozens of SB's that you need to make sure have been completed and that's just the beginning. 

Just my 2¢

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5 hours ago, ShawnM said:

You need to remove the main gear for a thorough inspection because you can see the cracks in the fiberglass while they are still mounted to the plane.

Lots of good points in Shawn’s post above.   Recommend a VERY thorough  pre-buy inspection from a SportCruiser S-LSA / Rotax Trained knowledgeable Mechanic.   

I believe a typo correction from Shawn’s above posting


 “can see the cracks”


can’t see the cracks” 

…when the Main Landing Gear are still mounted on the airplane…

is needed.


The SportCruisers that I have seen can be “flyable” with 6000 hours IF properly maintained.

 In fact, I flew one with about that many hours on it  at KADS Addison Airport ThrustFlight a few months ago.  This SportCruiser was on its fourth Rotax 912 engine,  of course…

This well used SportCruiser S-LSA  training aircraft had full SkyView displays, a Dynon AutoPilot,  a Garmin 796 GPS Map, …more… when I took a few laps of the pattern with an excellent ThrustFlight CFI with me  in the right seat to “get my SportCruiser muscle memory back in great condition” after a six month or so reduced time of flying of my own 1550 hour Rotax 912 ULS original engine in our 2010 PiperSport (CRUZ) Experimental E-LSA that now has a NEW Rotax 914 Turbo engine  in it.

Our Rotax 914 Turbo equipped Experimental   E-LSA CRUZ Light Sport Aircraft is flying now,  I Completed the FAA required Phase I Experimental E-LSA Flight Test, and the 914 Turbo engine provides a great CLIMB RATE improvement !  

But that’s a whole nuther story - CruiserAircraft does NOT innovate, nor does it support USA Already Sold aircraft owners,  so it is up to us  mostly Experimental E-LSA SportCruiser owners to develop and implement new ideas on our CRUZ aircraft.  

Risk vs Reward…


Also, be aware that CruiserAircraft does NOT issue Tail Number specific Letters Of Authorizations for ANY changes to factory built S-LSA SportCruisers,  as they (then called Czech Sport Aircraft) once did when Patrick Arnzen / US Sport Aircraft helped the Czech CRUZ S-LSA Manufacturer  at KADS North Dallas and US Sport Aircraft (now ThrustFlight) was the 2nd location of the USA Importer of CRUZ S-LSA SportCruisers. 

A Pilot’s mission is VERY important to consider before buying ANY airplane. 

And, if scuffed up leather seats and a less than perfect interior - from Student Pilot’s daily use- can be OK to you, and that aircraft fits your mission and style, GO FOR IT !

          - but ONLY  after you get a thorough Condition Inspection done by a Rotax / SportCruiser knowledgeable Mechanic. 

The CRUZ aircraft’s Rotax 912 engine condition is FAR more important than the interior leather.   Duh.

I would rather buy a ten year  old airplane with 1000 hours of regular use and well done regular maintenance than a similarly equipped 10 year old airplane with, for example, only 147 hours TOTAL  on the Hobbs meter of the ORIGINAL 912 engine - now 10 years old.   To me, that may indicate an airplane that SAT on the ground for MANY years.  WHY ?

MY CONCERNS about this hypothetical ten year old ORIGINAL 912 ULS Engine  - Why wasn’t the owner flying the hypothetical “For Sale” airplane REGULARLY ? - my example -  with only 147 hours time over ten years ???  Is the aircraft still airworthy ?  Using still the original oil ?  Ouch.   Rubber hose condition ?  Parked in a hangar or left outside to rot ?  The Aircraft Maintenance Logs May tell the real tale…


SportCruisers  are great little airplanes. They fly “relatively fast”, are easy to fly, very economical  and FUN.  A capable Dynon autopilot, glass Dynon instrument panels,  … some CRUZ LSA  are equipped very well !

 But most all CRUZ LSA  have a useful load under 475 lbs.  Two 200 lb occupants and just a light sandwich with a Gatorade,  and only 16 gallons of fuel is likely overweight of the USA FAA LSA’s  Maximum 1320 lbs Takeoff weight.



PS - there ARE a few A&P Mechanics with Inspection Authority that DO KNOW the FAA Light Sport Aircraft USA regulations and also maintenance of the Rotax 912 powered SportCruiser aircraft VERY well.  

ThrustFlight in North Dallas (KADS)  is where you can find some of these A&P/IA’s. But they are very busy and in constant very high demand.  

Certus in Wisconsin is another  excellent A&P / IA source of knowledgeable SportCruiser / Rotax 912 engine Maintenance techniques.

  And Certus will come to you and your airplane.  



However, unfortunately, MANY other A&P/IA “regular” General Aviation knowledgeable Mechanics know lots more about (just a couple examples) Cessna 172 and Piper Warrior “CertIficated” GA airplanes - when compared to their Rotax or SportCruiser knowledge (not much),  or in many cases,  their very lacking knowledge of the USA FAA Light Sport Aircraft Regulations !!!

The FAA Maintenance rules are VERY different for those “Cessna 172 type” - much more “routine, common”  GA aircraft,  and you can get in trouble quick if the A&P Mechanic doesn’t have a clue about the Consensus ASTM Standards coupled with FAA LSA regulations, not to mention some Czech aircraft manufacturers that don’t have USA SportCruiser S-LSA Aircraft Support in their Top Ten list. 

Today’s FAA LSA Maintenance / Rules and the Rotax 9XX engines are VERY DIFFERENT from the FAA rules and Lycoming / Continental engines that apply to a Cessna 172, Mooney, … Piper Saratoga…  !   There is NO FAA “Form 337” for S-LSA aircraft “field” mods.  And STC’s ?   Nope.  


P&E: Savvy Maintenance - AOPA












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Thanks Dave, I corrected my post. 

I guess it depends on ones comfort level and the depth of their pockets but a LSA with 6000 hours from a flight school just scares the bejesus out of me. And a SportCruiser to boot? No way.

We all know how fragile the landing gear is on a SportCruiser. Add to that the firewall reinforcement SB and the rivet to bolt SB on the wings, and 6000 hours of student abuse.....I'd certainly pass on this plane. But that's me.

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Shawn and Dave - thank you for your detailed thoughts.  Your feedback is consistent with what I’ve heard from a few mechanics that I have consulted with.  The bottom line is even if this plane passes a rigorous inspection it would still have to be registered as an ELSA to continue flying.  This is not something I personally have the bandwidth for nor the desire to undertake.

So looks like a pass on this one and the search continues. Hoping to learn more from you and others in the forum about these great planes in general.

Another data point I gathered during this process is that there is a serious lack of factory approved Rotax tech’s in the San Diego area. The one shop I was referred to seems to have a serious backlog of work and any maintenance would be a long process just to get on the schedule.

Thanks once again!


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Good choice AMZ, there are better choices for plane out there. I looked for almost two years to find my plane. It's wasn't "exactly" what I wanted but it is now. Also, don't be afraid to convert to E-LSA, it'll be the best thing you can do for any SportCruiser. It's just a little paperwork with the FAA and you'll be free. :D

Have a look at this map (if you haven't seen it already) from Rotax to find service in your area. You are correct, not many listed in SOCAL but plenty just north of you. You can easily fly up to them for service if needed.


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I was given this advice regarding purchasing an airplane: "Purchase the finest example that you can afford, the cost of upgrades and repairs is usually far more than the value that they will add to the airplane being purchased."    It was good advice and I am glad that I followed it.   If you are an A&P. you may be able to make repairs on the cheap, the rest of us mortals pay full price.

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