Chesapeake Sport Pilot at Bay Bridge Airport (W29) in Stevensville, Maryland, has been an industry leader in light sport flight training since the sport pilot rules were enacted in 2010. The addition of two Van’s Aircraft RV-12s to the school’s training fleet will continue to enhance the student pilot’s experience.
Before the arrival of its first RV-12, Chesapeake primarily trained students in the Tecnam P92 Eaglet. Tecnams and RV-12s are reliable and high-quality light sport aircraft, but the RV-12 does have one particular advantage for a flight school owner operating in North America.
What’s that? The simple answer is “parts,” said Chesapeake Sport Pilot Owner Helen Woods.
Woods said she had ordered a new wing for one of her grounded Tecnams in March, and it has yet to be delivered given the geographic barrier of the Atlantic Ocean. Tecnam is an Italian manufacturer, so all parts must be shipped over from, well, Italy.
Van’s, on the other hand, is headquartered in Aurora, Oregon, which makes the supply chain of aircraft parts a much simpler, less expensive, and time-effective solution.�Woods jokingly attributes this logistic advantage to the interstate highway system and the lack of massive oceans between the East Coast and Oregon.
The delivery of an RV-12 part takes only a few days. This convenience gives Woods two reasons to celebrate. First, she explains that the longer an aircraft is sitting on the ground, the more money her business is losing. Second, she is satisfied to see a transition in the LSA world from foreign to U.S.-built airplanes. European manufacturers previously dominated the LSA market, but now the top three sellers in the nation are all U.S. manufacturers, Woods said. (December 2014 sales data from ByDanJohnson.com put German manufacturer Flight Design and U.S. companies CubCrafters and Cessna in the top three.—Ed.)
With a third RV-12 on order, the two on the flight line have proven to be very beneficial for Chesapeake. The airplane uses unleaded auto fuel and consumes four gallons per hour. Woods praised the RV-12 for being an “excellent airplane both for personal and flight school use. It is both easy and inexpensive to maintain and operate.”
Matthew Orloff is an intern with AOPA Communications.