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Same Path, Different Journeys

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The Light Sport Maintenance Professionals

In 2006, Roger Lee’s journey to become a Light Sport Repairman with a Maintenance Rating (LSRM) began. He had purchased a Flight Design CTSW Aircraft, a Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA). Like 85% of the SLSA fleet, the CTSW Roger bought had a Rotax 912 engine. It did not take long for Roger to realize that the mechanics in his area were not familiar with Rotax engines. So Roger attended the Rotax Factory Training Courses himself. “I strongly believe in education and, then, in continued education,” said Roger. After taking three Rotax training courses, Roger continued to spend a lot of time reading both the engine and airframe manufacturer’s manuals and service bulletins, but without an FAA Airframe and Powerplant (A & P) or a LSRM certificate, he was only allowed to perform preventative maintenance. The Rotax training did not allow him to do any line maintenance, repairs, or inspections. “I was paying my A & P mechanic to maintain and inspect my aircraft, but I knew my engine and the maintenance issues better than he did. I thought, why not take the three- week [LSRM] course and save the money?” Roger explained. So after retiring from the Tucson Fire Department, he signed up for Rainbow Aviation’s LSRM course. He thought he would just work on his own aircraft and perhaps, help out a few friends in his area.

“Boy, was I wrong,” Roger continued, “Currently, I work on approximately 30 LSA [Light Sport Aircraft] a year. They come from 6 different states and my business grows every year. I get 2 to 3 long distance phone calls a day from all over the world. I didn’t want to go back to work, but there is enough work there to keep me plenty busy if I wanted to work full time.” Roger comments.

“Three years ago, when I signed up for the Light Sport Repairman Course, I would have never thought I would be in this position. Today, I have friends worldwide. I get calls from Africa, Spain, Australia, Canada, the UK, Thailand, and Egypt. I get asked and paid to travel to work on aircraft and I make good money. It doesn’t get any better than that. The majority of my regular customers, I would say 80%, are from out of town and fl y in to have their aircraft worked on.”

Roger works on all models of LSA, but he specializes in Flight Design and Rotax engines. In addition to working on aircraft, Roger also rebuilds Rotax parts. “People ship Rotax parts to me that need to be repaired or rebuilt; carburetors and gear boxes are the most common,” said Roger. “I have also been approached by several LSA Manufacturers to become a service center. I have even been asked to help on a few accident investigations.”

Skip Degan, on the other hand, is a Virginia-based flight instructor who specializes in tailwheel aircraft.  Skip offers flight instruction during the week and aircraft maintenance on the weekend. Many CFIs will earn their LSRM simply to perform their own maintenance and inspections on their trainer aircraft. However, Skip also offers maintenance, repairs and inspection services to the public. He uses a traveling maintenance trailer to work on LSA airplanes and Rotax and Jabiru engines. “Many LSA owners have their own private airports, so the trailer helps a lot, as well as being able to get to airplanes that were grounded,” explained Skip.

Skip is also one of the first LSRMs to add his A & P rating. Under the FAA regulations, an LSRM can work for 30 months under his own supervision and qualify to take the A & P exams. “The LSRM certificate allowed me to start my light sport business and enabled me to do anything from putting air in a tire to condition inspections, by “the book(s).” This got me interested in going further to get my A&P after 30 months of doing LSRM work,” said Skip.

In contrast, Nick Williams was already working as a journeyman employed by Remos Aircraft, a SLSA manufacturer. However, since he was not an A & P or a LSRM, Nick had to be supervised by an A & P and someone else had to sign the logbook entries for his work.  In September of 2009, Nick completed the Rainbow Aviation LSRM training. Today Nick holds an LSRM, an A & P and he is the Senior Aircraft Technician and Flight Operations

Manager at Remos. “Per FAR 65.77 a person with their LSRM can test for their A&P 30 after months of practical experience concurrently performing the duties appropriate to both the airframe and powerplant ratings. It was my goal to acquire my A&P certificate so I downloaded a study guide and test prep kit and started studying an hour or so a day, preparing for the test,” said Nick.

When asked about the opportunities the LSRM certification offer, Nick continued enthusiastically, “There are several reasons why people make the decision to attend the 120 hr LSRM training. Whether an individual is from a SLSA manufacturing company, an aircraft owner, or a person interested in starting their own business- making the decision is nothing but beneficial because of the options that are presented after they graduate. And, if you decide to add your A&P, you’ll not only be able to work on GA [general aviation] aircraft but you will have the experience - thanks to the LSRM rating that you have been using for the past two and a half years. That gives a LSRM an immediate advantage compared to a student who just graduated from an A&P vocational school and doesn’t have any experience. There is no comparison to the opportunities the LSRM provides. You can find a career working anywhere from your local aviation maintenance shop, to traveling abroad on contracts, to working for a major aircraft manufacturer or…. start your own facility!”

For more information on the repairman courses contact Rainbow Aviation Services:

www.rainbowaviation.com

info@rainbowaviation.com

877- 7 FLY LSA/ 530-567-5141

 

Light Aviation Edition July 2011

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