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Where Have All The Two Seat GA Trainers Gone?

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Where Have All The Two Seat GA Trainers Gone?

Old 11th Sep 2015, 08:58
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Where Have All The Two Seat GA Trainers Gone?

GA is just way too expensive nowadays.

I am not sure what it is like in other parts of Australia, but I am really surprised around the airfields here in SEQ I am close to. The lack of two seat GA training aircraft.
I learnt on the Piper PA38 Tomahawk. A simple, solid built, Two seat, 112HP powered low winged trainer. Roomy Cabin (especially compared to the main oppositions cramped C152 Cockpit). A fantastic Aero Club or Flying School Trainer. Yet how many GA two seat trainers are active for pilot training now.

It seems if you want to learn on a GA aircraft, (well, near my local airfields anyway) you use a four seat 160HP C172 @ $370.00 an hour ++. There may be some LSA registered as VH, but generally 'Where have all the basic two seat trainers gone'?.

I can only assume no one is buying them because there is not a demand for them. Why?,... is it because GA is just too expensive to learn and fly regularly. Hourly rates, and $700 or more for a medical (not including any specialists visits).

Even a quick Google showed many USA training outfits using C172 or PA28 aircraft rather than two seater versions.

It's a shame they have stopped making such aircraft. Piper are still producing aircraft, but no 2 seaters.
Other main two seat trainers I can recall were Cessna 152, Beechcraft Skipper, Victa Airtourer, Grumman AA-1.
What would they use now. Some of the new alternatives seem fancy 'Plastic Fantastic's', costing over half a million dollars?. Would they still be flying in 30 - 40 years.

There are a few Diamond DA20 or DA40. They look more like a LSA Motor glider.

I'd like to see GA prosper. But maybe it's just out priced itself!

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Old 11th Sep 2015, 22:32
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The Liberty XL2 looked promising as a 2 seat IFR trainer but it never really caught on. It was expensive and for a lot less you could buy an older 4 seat 172 or similar with all the glass and mod-cons.

It would appear that the same thing happened to the Robinson 22 in favour of the 44 with sales dropping off significantly.

I suspect you can blame LSA's for the demise. Gone are the days are someone wanting to spend a quarter of a million on s new 2 seat trainer. Piper tried a new 2 seater with the Piper Sport, Cirrus tried the same but neither took off which is all very interesting really.
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Old 11th Sep 2015, 22:49
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RVAC got a few containers of old C152's a few years ago. Fixed them up and they are well thought of.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 00:08
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An interesting thread and some issues already raised:

Has GA training out priced itself? Yes and no. Traditional GA manufacturers are not really interested in this sector. The bucks are in larger ACFT where the margin is significantly greater. Cessna is not even really interested in anything other than business jets these days. They do not invest at all in the SE piston market, just build the same old aircraft almost because they have to. Sales are down and margins mean significantly smaller return per unit. Economy of scale suffers and makes the merry go round bring even slower.

Most entrants into this field have no real idea of costs, just expectations based on the 40 year ( or older ) aircraft in the existing fleet. They would not expect to ride in a 40 year old taxi, say a HQ Holden, from the days even before commodores, or expect TNT to be driving 1418 Benz trucks. Expectations are different and we respect, and expect late model vehicles. In aviation we want to have the cake and eat it too.

Local manufacturers have attempted to meet the perceived demand for an economical ab initio trainers such as the Goair and boomerang, but when schools just ship in containers of cheap old US cast offs there is no means to compete with that. Maybe we could ship in some loads of 1970's le sabres or ex CHP Crown Victorias to provide cheap cars for those of us who don't like the idea of a local car industry.

LSA s are the immediate solution as they provide a lower cost acquisition due to the significantly lower design safety standards they are designed and manufactured to. Again you get what you pay for. Or not even in some cases.

The costs of design and development and manufacture of a GA two seat trainer that meets FAR 23 is the same essentially as that for a 4 or 6 seat aircraft where the margins are better and the demand is proven. The cost of regulatory compliance is the same! So the LSA market will benefit and grow as it is much less regulated and controlled.

HD
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 00:18
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Two seat GA training has been swallowed by RAA, why would you pay the exorbitant GA rates for a two seater when there is a newer offering with RAA rego at a much cheaper price on the same airfield?
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 00:18
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If Cessna's Skycatcher couldn't catch on, who else would want to bother to venture into the realm of a two-place trainer?


Average American male weighed 166 lbs. in 1960.

Average American male weighed 196 lbs. in 2010.

Last edited by evansb; 12th Sep 2015 at 03:12.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 00:57
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Many schools especially the smaller country schools do not want or need a mixed fleet. There is minimal benefit in learning in a two seater and then having to check out into the four place to take the family for a flight.

The 4 seat aircraft, when used as a trainer is more stable ( fwd cog when two up) and had greater performance. Remember rate so climb is dependant on excess power and a 4 seater with 2 pob has more excess power so will climb to circuit height quicker, and to GF height and training area quicker. Cost a bit more to run but gets through the syllabus quicker.

Disadvantage is that most 4 seat ACFT are normal category, so no spinning or aeros. Some have utility category ability for limited aeros. Mind you many two seaters are not aerobatic, and the instructors are not experienced, so limited benefit anyway.

As far as the tomahawk being a good trainer, ahem, this aircraft has a shameful record and they should all be binned, they have an appalling safety history. That's why they are cheap. The AA 10 had non recoverable spin modes also. I liked the Airtourer, but it was known as the concrete sparrow for a reason. It really needed 150 hp, and then you have same costs as a 4 seater. As I said, ya get what you pay for.

The benefits of a part 23 certified GA aircraft are manifold and one should not make decisions based solely on price. Or you will be driving a HQ, living in a caravan, eating crap food and shopping at the reject shop...... A Real quality life style. RAA and GA are different, but in many cases it is the school and the staff that are even more important.

What was I saying about sausages?

HD
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 01:04
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Hang on, help is on the way..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVqQKF7xgTQ
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 01:04
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When I trained back in 2000 the only thing that the flying school used the C152 was to train up to GFPT. After that it was 4 seater A/C due to the fact that the the slower cruise speed of the C152 wasn't really suited to go on longer navs.

I guess flying schools figure its not worth the out lay for a 2 seater when it is only used to train students to GFPT.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 02:45
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GA is just way too expensive nowadays
I see a Queensland aero club hires out a 172 at $293/hour these days, but thought a comparison of what previously prevailed may tell a story.

Compared to the '60s there are far greater demands on disposable income these days, overseas travel, home entertainment systems, iPhone, boats, caravanning, nightclubbing, dining out - and the list goes on, but you get the idea.

While toiling as an electrician in the mid '60s I earned $42 for a forty hour week, and paid something in the order of $9 an hour for an aircraft. The current median electrician pay is quoted as $1360. If relativity has been maintained, that would make the current rate about $291/hour. Not much has changed it would seem.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 02:47
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I've noticed the same!

I remember learning at Archerfield and being in the circuit with eight or so other C152 / PA38 etc... All gone now, though.

I hope it can be made to work - I am trying to put together a flying school capability (Part 141... OMG) using a Whitney Boomerang (a solid little training aircraft that I reckon is a good design, but never succeeded because a) it is an Australian design and b) got smashed in the market by the LSAs, Grobs and other designs that are manufactured cheaper overseas) which I can use for the right price and a C152 Aerobat that I have had completely rebuilt from scratch - putting both aircraft out at under $200 per hour wet (without instructor). Probably be somewhere about the $250 per hour for dual training once up and running. Both aircraft are in very good condition - which is a fundamental tenet of the business as no-one wants to hire an aircraft that looks old and tatty...

I'm probably mad, but I have a particular business model in mind that I think / hope can work.

Apart from the detractors who will say to give up and not take the risk, anyone with experience in this sort of thing got some good advice that might help??
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 03:45
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The 2-seaters are a far more cost-effective training vehicle than the C172s, but as others have said the "average Australian" is a bit more affluent (and possibly effluent) than before, and girth and weight have increased accordingly.

For the volume that most flying schools are putting through, it must be uneconomical to run 2-seaters AND 4-seaters.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 04:03
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I think evansb has a large part of the answer - no pun intended. I did my entire PPL on C150/2 and many times relied on the curvature of the earth to get airborne with my slighter more svelte self, a reasonable load of gas and a CFI who hadn't seen 2 figures on the scale in a long time.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 05:29
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Hi Flying bear,

Spot on about the Boomerangs. they are great, sturdy little trainers and will be around for years to come unlike some of the LSA types that came out around the same time.

My advice is to adapt to the conditions rather than be wistful about the good old days, they are gone, it's a different industry now, a different market. RA Aus dealt a massive blow when they were able to start operating in Class D.

Same as any other business, there is nothing special about a flying school, if you don't keep an eye on your gross margins and lumber yourself with massive overheads you are going to go broke, it's pretty simple.

Spinex I had a stude came from another school yesterday, we did our fuel calcs for the flight as we do each time and also worked out that every time he went flying at the other school they had been about 60kg overweight.

If we have a stude who is more than 95 kg we have to use a four seater to stay within weight limits and carry enough fuel and reserves. The average bod is definately much heavier these days!
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 07:07
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Maybe with drone/autopilot technology you could have single-seat trainers and the instructor could stay on the ground...

...or just give instructor job to Siri.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 07:07
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I think some of the current larger flying schools (and Aero Clubs) are having a lend of their students by only having 4 seater aircraft available for training and in doing so are discouraging new starters due to cost.

Back when I learned to fly and when I was instructing we had a fleet of 2 seaters (PA38s and 152s) and a fleet of 4 seaters (PA28s and C172s). With this fleet we did or the basic training and NAVs up to 3 hours in length and only used the 4 seaters for longer the NAVs including the CTA NAV (due to lack of equip in the 2 seaters). This saved the student lots of money that they could use in the future ie CSU/ retractable.

I think most of the schools (especially the Aero Clubs) have forgotten that not everyone wants to fly for a living and there are lots of people who want to FLT for fun and obey wanted to jump in a 2 seater on a nice sunny day and go for a fly. This thinking has pushed those flying for fun to RAAus where they can fly a cheap 2 seater with lots of the RAAUs schools now like the Aero Clubs I've the past.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 07:47
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GA is just way too expensive nowadays.
I reckon that if you calculated an hours hire adjusted for inflation it'd be the same price now as it was in 1985. And I reckon you may just be earning a little more now than then (adjusted for inflation)
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 08:47
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Megan

I know inflation comes into the costs, Your example of the 1960s showed it was expensive then. I believe things improved in the 1970s and 80s.
When I learnt back in the Mid 80s a PA38 was $70 ph solo ($85 Dual) and the C172 was $120 ph solo or Dual.
An Electrician was earning $30,000, so an hour's flying was around 12% of your weekly before tax wage.
I see an Aero club advertising a C172 at $293 ph. But that's before GST. So 1 hour flying at $323 ph when your earning $1360 a week before tax is around 24% of your weekly wage. That's too much IMHO. I'm not sure what they could charge for a C152 or similar 2 seater though, if there were any around of course.

Spinex

I flew PA38s and C152s. Although I was slimmer in those days both performed very well. There climb out may not look as steep as the modern LSA, but we climbed them at 70Kts rather than say 55Kts in the LSAs. They were great solid and roomy aircraft yet still only had a MTOW of around 750Kg.

Andy rr

I had a CFI like that once. 'Seagull',... you had to throw rocks at him to make him fly. If he could have done the lesson from his office, he would have.

BPA

Totally agree. Although not trying to have a dig at Outfits that do this. But surely operating a 160HP C172 or PA28, 4 seater rather than 112HP 2 seaters for training doesn't add up.
Many PPLs used to hire the PA38 for their private flying, whether local or X Country,...Why,... because it was less expensive ( $70 vs. $120 ph). The 15KTS gained by the C172 didn't make it worthwhile on X countries either unless you had more than 2 POB. The PA38s were used for X country training too. plenty of room to read maps etc.

7700

I missed the Piper Sportcruiser. It looks a nice little plane designed to LSA specs. Obviously Piper doesn't think there's a market for a GA trainer to replace the PA38. Yet GA Training outfits are using PA28s, C172s etc.

Unfortunately I think GA outfits are their own worst enemies only providing C172s, C182s, PA28s etc. I know quite a few guys that have given up GA in favour of LSA because of the cost. Couldn't they put a PA38 online cheaper for training or private flying. It can't be the cost of purchasing these aircraft can it?, when they have a fleet of 4 or 6 Four seaters on the line.

Just asking Guys. I'm Interested in others views.

Cheers
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 11:31
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If you compare the running costs of a 2 seater to a 4 seater I think you'll find there's not a lot in it.

The airframe and engine maintenance costs will be very close, the capital cost will vary and so will the fuel burn.

The extra utilisation created for the 4 seaters by only having one type probably helps out weigh any extra costs of the 4 seater.

If I were a flying school owner I wouldn't bother operating a 2 seater. 4 seaters will cost very little more to run and provide so much more flexibility and versatility.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 11:40
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I fly an Alarus CH2000 (built in 2005) which is a new two seat trainer. It's a great little aircraft and very competitive when it comes to the price of the equivalent two seater aircraft. It's ran in a syndicate and comes well under the prices of $250-300 per hour being quoted for the older Cessna/ pipers more closer to half that price. It's not in the LSA category and looks like a mix between a warrior and tomahawk. Good fun aircraft
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