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2012 LSA Market Shares — Cubs & Surprises

By Dan Johnson, February 8, 2013

Our annual review of LSA Market Share brings our updated fleet chart and a second chart showing prior-year registrations. While sales of new SLSA remains below par, the market appears to be experiencing spotty but regular recovery from earlier low points. The first half the year foretold a better recovery but the last half of the year stalled somewhat. Regardless, based on traffic to this website, LSA interest is higher than ever. For January 2013, ByDanJohnson.com set all-time records in Unique Visitors and all other measuring criteria Thank you for your support!

2012 Market Share report — Nearby, we present our standard market share numbers. Our original chart remains consistent, illustrating the "installed base," or "fleet size." Because we know many of you seek recent-year information we are repeating the Calendar Year chart that debuted last year.

For the second year in a row Cessna lead in 2012 with an impressive 94 registrations though this is down 30% from 134 in 2011. While Cessna looked to set a new record with 76 registrations (152 annualized) in the first half of 2012, their pace slowed sharply in the second half, adding only 23, perhaps a result of their announcement about switching to Primary Category as a means of entering the European market. The Wichita giant is singlehandedly restarting Primary Category with the first such application in nearly 20 years, a decision that may inspire other companies to go this route.

Cessna Skycatcher

Perhaps the most noteworthy story in 2012 registrations is an even better performance by CubCrafters. The Washington State company added 48 new registrations, up 33% from 36 in 2011. Company marketing boss John Whitish reported 52 SLSA sales, which prompts us to ask that you read the notice at the end of this article. Congratulations to CubCrafters, clearly a company to keep watching.

CubCrafters CarbonCub SS

A remarkably steady climber is Aerotrek, which took the #3 slot for 2012 registrations, a notable improvement from their #5 spot in 2011. Despite some reports that all SLSA are expensive, Aerotrek has a very attractive price point and an impressively built, folding wing aircraft available in tailwheel or trigear. Aerotrek consistently replies to our listings, with the goal of making our FAA registrations report more precise. This happens, for example, when sales occur to Canada with no N-number assigned or when a SLSA drops down to ELSA perhaps as the owner wants to make design changes (which is allowed as is owner maintenance). Other companies also see differences explained by deregistration, accidents that remove the aircraft from the registry, or simple errors in data entry after a sale. Regardless of the variables in counting registrations versus sales, bravo to Aerotrek! Based on their faithful feedback we have been able to improve our accuracy.

Aerotrek A240

Other top guns in 2012 include perennial leaders like Flight Design, which remains convincingly atop the overall fleet and added 11 more registrations during the year and American Legend which revived from a sluggish 2011 to add 11 SLSA in 2012. SportCruiser importer US Sport Aircraft fulfilled the last of the PiperSport orders and rewrote their distributor agreement with Czech Sport Aircraft; they added another 10 SLSA in 2012. In a pleasant but unexpected turn, importer Phoenix Air USA added an impressive 10 SLSA registrations of their extremely lovely motorglider. Congratulations to all these leaders.

Flight Design CTLS

A member of the exclusive Over-100 Club listing only eight SLSA producers is Tecnam. The Italian company showed renewed vigor logging six registrations in the second half of the year. They also successfully completed an FAA audit in Italy. Among their five SLSA models, four are high-wing models yet their low wing Sierra has 51 units flying in America, more than any other Tecnam model. Another European producer with facilities in Italy is Pipistrel, which overcame regulatory hurdles in mid-year and has begun delivering SLSA to Americans. They also logged six in the last half of the year. Both Tecnam and Pipistrel report active sales outside the USA.

Unfortunately, one former high flyer, Remos, lost its U.S representative and has become very quiet though earlier this year, their CEO said they had recovered from the previous CEO's high-spending ways.

American Legend Cub

We are watching a few companies not on our fleet chart. One new entry to the SLSA scene is Bristell, in a new partnership with fractional ownership provider, AAP. They join some other companies that have not been active long enough to get on the fleet chart, but nonetheless deserve attention. These companies include World Aircraft Co., which is bringing all production to their Paris, Tennessee facility. Breezer is now established on the Sun 'n Fun campus and more is expected from them. Sky Arrow producer Magnaghi has new life and may resurge. Aero's AT-4 (formerly known as Gobosh) is back with new representation. Just Aircraft got rave reviews on their SuperSTOL model and this mostly kit company is enjoying a solid run of business something like 100% kit producers Zenith Aircraft and Sonex. While mentioning kit builders (not on our SLSA list), we must include Van's Aircraft, which has seen registration of 203 RV-12 kits.

Phoenix Air Phoenix motorglider
photo by James Lawrence

We are also watching the pulse on seaplanes lead this year by Progressive Aerodyne, which earned SLSA approval even as FAA increased their oversight via highly detailed audits. Congratulations to the SeaRey team for this significant accomplishment.

This brief look at the LSA market is not complete. One observation is that the "All other producers" category is now the largest percentage, indicating small producers continue to develop sales. Some companies not reflected in our Top-20 and Top-10 charts may emerge into these lists in the future. Others that have been in the Top-20 but which are no longer producing new aircraft were omitted. However, all SLSA models are covered in our SPLOG reports and you may also examine our Featured Aircraft (right column of most pages) for more exciting Light-Sport Aircraft and other aircraft Sport Pilots can fly.

Czech Sport Aircraft SportCruiser
photo by Jim Raeder

As I have said for years, a loud shout-out is owed to Jan Fridrich of the Czech LAA for the LSA Market Share report. Jan is also head of LAMA Europe and a tireless worker for the advancement of Light-Sport aviation. He invests many hours to analyze data for each report. Thanks, Jan, on behalf of all ByDanJohnson.com readers. During 2013, we will work to solicit comments from producers to evaluate the sales versus registration numbers. This is not an easy task and no promises are made yet the effort seems worthwhile in the pursuit of better information.

Notice: As always, we observe for you that all numbers here are derived from FAA's N-number registration database and are subject to data entry errors. Figures presented are not identical to sales recorded by the companies though over time the numbers draw closer.

UPDATE 2/13/13: GAMA held a press conference today where they released their industry numbers. Get more on GAMA here, but this is where their figures relate to the Light-Sport market. Piston aircraft, singles and twins, suffered a minor drop, only 1.9% down; GAMA did list some LSA in their report but did not use them in summary tables. Turbines were up and GAMA added agricultural crop-spraying planes to their membership; many ag planes are turbine powered. Jets were down slightly more at minus 3.4%. Like the Light-Sport industry, GAMA is hoping for improvement in 2013 and they announced some interesting initiatives to this end.

 



 

 
 


Vickers Aircraft has created one of the most distinctive new LSA seaplanes yet to emerge.Powered by the 180-horsepower
Lycoming O-360, their Wave model is like no other seaplane ever introduced with multiple features to set it apart from the crowd.
Wave

Tecnam is the world's leading manufacturer of Light-Sport aircraft offering more models and variations than any other producer.
Besides the world's fastest-selling light twin and a new four seater, Tecnam offers these LSA: Echo Classic, Eaglet, Bravo, Astore, and P2008.
Many LSA
& GA models

Hansen Air Group represents recognized brands in the LSA
space: FK Lightplanes and their distinctive biplane Comet, FK9, and FK51 plus the great-flying Magnaghi Sky Arrow. Based in Atlanta, Georgia Hansen Air Group is an experienced player in the LSA space.
Multiple LSA

Flight Design USA imports CT, the top selling Light-Sport Aircraft. CT is a 98% carbon fiber design
with superb performance, roomy cockpit, great useful load, and a parachute as standard equipment ... the market leader for 10 years!
CTLSi

North Wing is America's leading manufacturer of weight shift LSA and Part 103 ultralight trikes. The company's wing designs are so good that most other trike manufacturers use them. Aircraft prices are highly affordable by all.

SportairUSA imports the dashing and superbly-equipped StingSport S4 that has won a loyal following from American pilots. More recently, they introduced their TL-3000 high-wing LSA. SportairUSA is a full-line operation with maintenance and training, too.

Super Petrel LS, manufactured by Edra Aeronautica in Brazil and represented by Florida Light Sport Aviation, is a unique and highly effective LSA seaplane. A biplane design, this is well established flying boat with more than 20 years of history.

The Airplane Factory (TAF) produces the Sling series of world-circling aircraft (literally) and now this fine-flying, all-metal beauty is available in the United States as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Here is an LSA to follow.

Quicksilver Aeronautics is the world's largest producer of ultralight aircraft, selling some 15,000 aircraft. The company's designs are thoroughly tested, superbly supported, and have an excellent safety record.


SkyCraft Airplanes is America’s first Light-Sport Aircraft single seater. SD-1 Minisport is affordably priced, very well equipped, and was designed to exhibit docile handing qualities. It can be flown for less than $12 per hour.

BushCat is the distinctive Light-Sport Aircraft within reach of almost any budget. With a solid heritage BushCat by SkyReach is fun, capable, and available as a kit, fully-built SLSA or ELSA.

Aerotrek Aircraft imports the A240 and A220 tricycle gear or taildragger Special Light-Sport Aircraft. A finely finished aircraft at an excellent price, Aerotrek has wide, affordable appeal.

Renegade Light Sport produces the sexy low wing, all composite Falcon in America. The Florida company has also established itself as the premiere installer of Lycoming’s IO-233 engine.

Evektor is Number One and always will be. The Czech company's SportStar was the number one SLSA to win approval but engineers have steadily improved the model far beyond that 2005 version that started the race.

Just Aircraft has delivered more than 300 kit aircraft since 2002, but in 2012 they electrified pilots with the awesome performance of their all-new SuperSTOL. It may look extreme and performs extremely well, but it is truly docile and forgiving to fly.

Lockwood Aircraft is the builder of two of light aviation's best-recognized flying machines: AirCam and the Drifter line. Most sport aviators already know the Lockwood brand, a leader in Rotax maintenance and aircraft services.

Zenith Aircraft is one of America's leading kit suppliers featuring well proven models from legendary designer, Chris Heintz. Centrally based in Mexico, Missouri, Zenith offers kit aircraft for several popular models.

Jabiru USA builds the spacious and speedy J-250 and more recently J-230 plus the training-optimized J-170, each certified as Special LSA. The Tennessee-based company also imports and services the popular Jabiru engine line.

X-Air brings a return to reasonably priced Light-Sport Aircraft, with a ready-to-fly flying machine you can purchase for a genuinely low price. No new arrival, X-Air has a rich history in light aviation.

Corbi Air represents the Made-for-Americans Direct Fly Alto 100. Created in the Czech Republic, Alto 100 was upgraded for USA sales and the result is a comfortable, handsome low wing, all-metal LSA with features you want.

Progressive Aerodyne designed and supplies the SeaRey series, arguably the most celebrated of all light seaplanes in America. A close community of hundreds of owners offers camaraderie few other brands can match.

Aeromarine-LSA represents an economical Part 103 ultralight that is within reach of almost any budget. For local fun flying, or for those who enjoy soaring flight Zigolo is light enough to be lifted by even the most gentle thermals.

World Aircraft Company is Columbian design expertise joined to Canadian entrepreneurship based in Paris, Tennessee USA. Welcome to World Aircraft and a brand-new short takeoff and landing (STOL) Light-Sport Aircraft, the all-metal Spirit.

Pipistrel has designed and manufactures a range of beautiful, sleek aircraft that have found markets around the world. Starting with gliders and motorgliders, Pipistrel now offers a line of powered aircraft using multiple power sources.

U.S. Sport Aircraft Importing represents the popular SportCruiser, one of the best selling Special Light-Sport Aircraft among 130 models on the market. The Texas-headquartered importer has long represented this familiar model.


Phoenix Air USA imports the beautiful Phoenix Special Light-Sport Aircraft, a performance motorglider that can cruise swiftly and serve both functions with excellent creature comfort. Given its clever wing extension design, you get two aircraft in one!

Arion Aircraft has designed and built one of the most beautiful low wing entries in the Special LSA and kit-built aircraft sector. The all-American designed and built aircraft is priced fairly and flies wonderfully ... need you search for more?

BRM Aero manufacturers the handsome Bristell all-metal SLSA. This highly evolved, next-generation Light-Sport was carefully engineered for luxury, comfort, excellent stability, and safety while being fun, fast, and easy to fly.

Kitfox is one of the world's best selling light aircraft kits with more than 5,000 delivered. With unrivaled name recognition, Kitfox is admired for crisp handling, excellent performance, easily folded wings, and more. The design is flown around the world.

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