PiperSport Tops Headlines at U.S. Sport Aviation Expo

Good weather combined with some hot news to make last week's Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, a successful mid-winter show. The big news was Piper's entry into the Light Sport trainer market with its PiperSport, a Czech-built, all-metal two-seater powered by a Rotax 912 engine. For photos and a description of the PiperSport, click here. For its part, Cessna showed its own Light Sport trainer, the SkyCatcher — and not just any SkyCatcher, but the first to be delivered. The launch customer was none other than Cessna Chairman Jack Pelton's wife, Rose, who flew her new ride to Sebring from Wichita. Cessna's lead over Piper in the Light Sport sweepstakes is tempered somewhat with the news that deliveries of more SkyCatchers will be delayed. Cessna's SkyCatcher program has an order book with more than 1,000 entries. Reports from Sebring indicate that as many as 19 aircraft may have been sold at the show, including an un-Light Sport Cessna Skyhawk. Besides good flying weather and attendee buzz, the agenda also included the first meeting of the Light Sport — Joint Safety Committee of the GA-Joint Steering Committee, which convened in the days leading up to the Expo. The committee identified safety issues of concern to the five-year-old Light Sport category. In another pre-Expo meeting, the ASTM F-37 committee on Light Sport Aircraft (which approves light sport aircraft) addressed issues, including: a new auditing standard; the future of electric-powered light sport aircraft; and an industry quality assurance standard. The FAA addressed the Zodiac 601XL issue and informed the committee its full report on the controversial design will be out shortly.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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