I agree, it's a very good looking plane. Quick question, though. A lot was made of the fact that Cessna went far beyond the necessary certification testing with the skycatcher (that testing was what resulted in the two infamous spin accidents). Has the Piper Sport been through similar testing? Will it?
I must confess to some confusion about the PiperSport hoopla, and its aim at the flight school market. Irrespective of how nice the airplane flies, the current set of business structures doesn't pass a due-diligence review for such use for me.
Here's the basic analysis and argument: Use in a flight school necessarily, and obviously, involves a commercial use of the airplane. All LSAs used for a commercial purpose must be SLSAs. For SLSAs, and unlike standard-certified airplanes, it is the manufacturer who controls every aspect of the airplane - especially its configuration and maintenance; not the FAA. There are no local modifications possible (such as one would do with a 337 ) without the express consent of the manufacturer; and there is no maintenance performed outside of the particular and specific set of procedures found in the manufacturer's Maintenance Manual. Further, if the manufacturer ceases operations, the airworthiness category (S-LSA) is null and void requiring a new airworthiness as an E-LSA.
For SLSAs used for commercial purposes, one is entering into a long-term relationship with the manufacturer. And there's the rub.
Who is the PiperSport's manufacturer? It is not Piper (or New Piper to be more specific). And, it is not PiperSport Distribution, Inc. (a separate business entity from New Piper). It is Czech Sport Aircraft, sa.
Look at the "fine print" disclosures on the sales agreement. These are acknowledged; and it is a fundamental difference between what Cessna is doing and what Piper is doing.
What is Piper's mitigation to this risk? Frankly the Czech company is, and has been, pretty shaky. Yet this is the business entity a flight school is entering into a relationship with, not Piper.
In a worst-case scenario, a flight school's PiperSport fleet could instantaneously be rendered unairworthy, and when re-issued E-LSA airworthiness certificates, they couldn't be used for training.
Whoa! Slow down! The “PiperSport” may not be the answer.
I too got really excited when I first heard about the Sport Cruiser built by Czech Sport Aircraft. I walked through the Light Sport area at AirVenture and after looking at many LSA alternatives I picked the Sport Cruiser as the one I wanted. It has great looks, features and specs.
When I finally found one I could fly (I’m in Southern California) I took it for drive. Here’s a quick summary of issues. At takeoff I was cautioned to point the nose well right of the centerline, hold full right rudder and, after throttle-up, wait for the torque to bring the nose around to the centerline and, hopefully, you have gained enough rudder authority to hold the nose on the centerline. It works, but it’s unconventional.
I was also warned, with a lot of emphasis, that the Sport Cruiser was very pitch sensitive so to be really careful in lifting off the runway. I really tried to ease it off, but over-controlled anyway. It IS pitch sensitive even at low speeds.
In the pattern it was suggested to fly it with flaps down in order to pitch the nose down enough for forward vision. I did that and it helps, but, again, it’s not conventional.
As an experienced pilot I found this a fun airplane to fly. It is highly responsive, has great performance and great visibility. I would NOT recommend it as a trainer aircraft. It’s a jitterbug and requires unconventional piloting procedures. Hopefully, Piper will do some redesign to make the aircraft have better flying characteristics as a trainer. Otherwise, the PiperSport will not be the aircraft that we all hope it might be.
For the record, I am a Piper flier and wish Piper well, but they may not be headed in the right direction with this choice as an introductory, training aircraft.