I was lucky enough to get Matthias Betsch, Flight Design’s CEO, all to myself for a few minutes and here’s what he had to say: *** General update: “A hard year but better than we expected. In the last two to three months, we’ve had quite a pickup. Here in the States dealers sold their stock so they have to buy more airplanes…they have to buy more so I think that is good!” *** The year ahead: “I don’t think we’ll get back to 2007-2008 this year, but I do think it will be a 30% recovery. The rest we will do in 2011.” *** On the new Flight Design MC: “It’s a different character. The LS is more sporty, speedy, responsive. The airplane feels much heavier than it is. That’s what we wanted: an airplane for flight schools which is very forgiving, easy to land, to fly. It’s also ideal for older pilots who are used to very stable airplanes.” *** MC vs.
Flight Design GmbH CTLS
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgL.-Echterdingen, -- D-70771 - Germany
U.S. Distributor is Flight Design USA
Phone: (860) 963-7272South Woodstock, CT 06267 - USA
I was out in L.A. last week and had the distinct pleasure to hop a flight out of Santa Monica Airport, an old haunt of mine, with Flight Design USA‘s California sales rep, Karine Noel. *** Karine was a perfect hostess. She’s just set up shop to demo the company’s top-o’-market line of LSA. *** But she’s more than just another pretty face. *** Her GA chops include a stint flying for JetDirect Aviation and CFI/CFII, IFR and Commercial Multi ratings. *** That pedigree should prove a real asset when showing and translating the virtues and nuances of Light Sport flight to GA pilots, who often underestimate the sophisticated handling and performance of LSA. *** We launched in Karine’s CTLS demonstrator on a clear, cool morning, flew out over famed Malibu colony, then climbed to 5,000 ft over the wonderful Santa Monica Mts. to boat around at 120 knots for awhile.
If you study FAA’s registration database as I do, you’ll quickly discover that Flight Design and its various CT models have a strong presence in the USA (the world for that matter, with 1,500 flying, according to the company). Since CT was first certified in April 2005 — the second LSA to win Special LSA certification, after Evektor’s SportStar — the German brand has steadily planted CTs across America. You can see a CT at more airfields than any other brand by more than double; the next closest is the American Legend Cub. *** The accompanying graphic was created by Flight Design USA to show the locations of more than 300 CT aircraft in the United States. The distribution is surprisingly even with obvious concentrations in big aviation states such as Florida, California, and Texas/Oklahoma with another area of strength in New England, home base of the U.S.
Word of a few interesting developments arrived in my inbox, bringing with them new questions. *** Point One — EAA announced it will cease publishing Sport Pilot and Light-Sport Aircraft magazine. LSA content will be merged into their flagship Sport Aviation title, bolstered by a new eNewsletter called “Light Plane World” that will focus on LSA and ultralights. *** Point Two — An Australian company, Foxcon, alerted me about their SLSA, the Terrier 200. It’s not presently for sale in the U.S. But they say it has government approval just like the other 104 aircraft on our SLSA List. To assure our list remains up-to-date, a key feature of the SLSA List, do we add the Terrier 200? Is ByDanJohnson.com is an American product for Americans or a world citizen? *** Point Three — China is hosting an international GA conference and is featuring Cirrus, Diamond, and Cessna, and, not least, Flight Design in promoting CIGAC.
|Empty weight||770 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,320 pounds|
|Wingspan||28 feet, 2 inches|
|Wing area||107 square feet|
|Wing loading||12.3 pounds/square foot|
|Useful Load||550 pounds|
|Length||21 feet, 8 inches|
|Cabin Interior||49 inches|
|Height||7 feet, 8 inches|
|Fuel Capacity||34 gallons|
|Baggage area||70 pounds|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912 ULS2|
|Prop Diameter||Ground-adjustable, composite|
|Power loading||13.2 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||115 knots|
|Stall Speed||39 knots|
|Never exceed speed||145 knots|
|Rate of climb at gross||805 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||800 feet|
|Range (powered)||5.1 hours, 610 miles|
|Fuel Consumption||4.5 gph|
All photos by EAA Chief Photographer, Jim Koepnick This article appears on ByDanJohnson.com thanks to permission granted by EAA and the willingness of author, Ed Downs. I’ve had the pleasure to fly with many expert pilots but the very best aircraft checkout I’ve ever received came from Ed. He’s a good pilot, that’s a given. But he is also very adept at giving you a solid expectation of what to expect. I think you’ll agree after you read this article. –Dan Johnson *** Note this article is presented without charge. Are LSA Growing Up? New special light-sport aircraft (SLSA) enter the market on an almost weekly basis. Many of the early SLSA entrants were makeovers of existing European advanced ultralight designs or adapted versions of post-World War II training airplanes. Flight Design USA has now introduced the CTLS, defined as a second-generation S-LSA from the German-based Flight Design GmbH. Is this new S-LSA better than the first CTs sold?
Most folks have probably never heard of ASTM International document F2295, Continued Operational Safety Monitoring of a Light-Sport Aircraft. But Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Designs USA, is intimately familiar with it. As the former chairman of the ASTM Airplane Committee, Tom was a driving force behind requiring SLSA manufacturers to face up to service after the sale and airworthiness monitoring. According to Tom, “The SLSA industry will not survive unless we take our after-sale commitments seriously. SLSA Service After the Sale Flight Design USA has a dedicated safety and compliance manager plus a number of procedures in place to make sure customers get the service they need.” Flight Design USA initiates its after-sale quality control by starting in the beginning. Any individual involved in the assembly of CT airplanes imported into the United States must undergo assembly compliance training through Lockwood Aviation’s Aero Technical Institute. Thus customers are assured that their CTSW or CTLS meets all original manufacturer quality standards.
Viewed from the LSA Mall, AirVenture 2009 was much more than the summer’s big celebration of flight. Several important events tell a story of growing acceptance of LSA. Here’s a short list: LAMA hosted a meeting of G10 (the 10 largest LSA producers) and another of G5, while paying visits to every LAMA member in attendance. *** At the G10 meeting and again at LAMA’s press conference, Avemco president Jim Lauerman detailed his company’s support (in writing) for LAMA’s audit activities. His expressions were corroborated by Falcon Insurance VP Bob Mackey. *** Earl Lawrence, VP of government relations for EAA, brought brand new FAA administrator Randy Babbitt to the LSA Mall, where he met with presidents of LSA companies: Flight Design, Tecnam, Remos, and IndUS. *** At AOPA’s invitation, LAMA arranged a meeting for several LSA industry leaders with new AOPA president Craig Fuller.
Sales are subdued all over aviation but it isn’t stopping the top performers in the Light-Sport Aircraft marketplace. As our last market share update illustrated, Remos, Tecnam, SportCruiser, and Jabiru have all done reasonably (or very) well in the last 18 months. Always among those contenders is longtime market share leader, Flight Design. *** Just a couple days ago (photo), eastern distributor Flight Design Mid-Atlantic delivered CT#300 to owner Kenneth D. Griffin of Southampton, New Jersey complete with his personalized tail number (N74KG)… interestingly, CT#200 also got a call sign identifying its owner. *** In the Something-for-Nothing Department: Flight Design will be giving away the first MC at AirVenture when EAA completes its 2009 Sweepstakes and awards some lucky person a brand-new design as well as a brand-new airplane. Big flight school and mail order house, Sporty’s, is giving away a 2010 Cessna Skycatcher.
We continue to see the effects of the last year of economic turmoil in Light-Sport Aircraft market shares. The chart accompanying this SPLOG tells the numbers as always presented, with total market share since the first deliveries in 2005 based on carefully-reviewed FAA registration data. The top twenty (of 70 total) producers still represent almost 90% of total SLSA registrations. For the record… registrations on FAA’s database are not the same as sales. Aircraft can be registered and not sold. Aircraft can be identified as sold yet no longer registered, for example, if removed from service due to a non-repairable crash. To get some idea of the work my associate Jan Fridrich does to collect this information, go look for yourself at FAA’s database. *** Remos continues its solid 2008 performance despite the troubled economy. In the 16-month period since January 1, 2008 the German brand is the leader with 73 units registered, followed by familiar names, in order: Flight Design 62; Tecnam 49; Czech Aircraft Works (see below) 44; Jabiru 32; American Legend 27; AMD 23; CubCrafters 22; Aeropro 14, plus Evektor and TL Ultralight at 12 each.
Exhibitor Chris Regis of Paradise USA (representing the P-1) reported “good visitor traffic” and “excellent organization” from the people behind the Heart of Texas LSA Expo. The new event, held over March 8 & 9 is one of two planned shows following the strong 2009 performance at the pioneer of LSA Expos, the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo. *** Several reports reminded me of the 13-city Sport Pilot Tour held during 2005 and 2006. Each of those events drew 10-20 exhibiting LSA and attracted 300-700 people at locations across the USA. The numbers sound small to those enamored of the huge crowds at Oshkosh. But, in fact, the Sport Pilot Tour, with its focused marketing on LSA only, helped customers find the manufacturer they were seeking. Everyone who came was interested in LSA and a vendor could speak to nearly all of them.
With one month to go (and it’s hard to imagine a big December), we have figures to report for this most extraordinary year. We’re all (painfully) aware of the economic predicament, but how has this impacted light-sport aviation? Here’s my observations. *** In 11 months, the industry has increased fleet size by 35% to 1,510 fixed wing airplanes from 1,118 on January 1st. Annualizing the numbers, all airplane LSA should register 427 airplanes, which equates to about 35 aircraft per month, which means sales were about 20% off the monthly pace recorded since early 2006. *** Flight Design held its top spot and again delivered the most, but just barely. Remos has been the rising star of 2008 with a 147% increase over their total on January 1st. Tecnam became only the third company to pass 100 units registered. Other solid gains were logged by Czech Aircraft Works (up 69% in the year); Jabiru (up 53%); FPNA (up 55%, though from a lower number, which makes larger percentage gains easier); Aeropro (up 52%).
These days, “oversight” is a heavily used word on national media. But far from the strangeness of government bailouts is the world of Light-Sport Aircraft. For the new aviation sector, industry oversight is seen as critical by LAMA and many aviation leaders. *** A conversation with LAMA founder* Larry Burke shows the LSA industry organization is moving steadily toward its oversight goals. Insurance companies and others hope LAMA will audit companies supplying 80% of purchased LSA. Once that “critical mass” is reached, insurers feel they can advise customers do as LAMA encourages…”Look for the LAMA Label.” *** A LAMA audit verifies that a company which declares compliance to ASTM standards actually possesses the documentation to prove their declaration. After successfully passing a LAMA audit, a company can place LAMA Labels on their LSA so that potential customers are aware the company has satisfactorily completed a voluntary third party audit.
I can identify four factors in the economy presently affecting airplane sales: Potential customers (often with plenty of assets or creditworthiness) see the value of their stock portfolio going up and down like a roller coaster; worry over their once-soaring real estate, now down markedly in some areas; witness the continuing rise of the euro-dollar exchange rate, bringing much higher prices for many LSA; and, fret over a climate of political uncertainty during another election cycle. *** Perhaps due to these factors GA single engine piston sales are off 28% compared to the same period last year, according to GAMA. LSA sales are off 30% compared to trends six months to a year ago. *** Jet and turbine aircraft sales are up, but 2008 deliveries of those aircraft stem from orders taken 2-3 years ago. Contrarily, personal and sport aircraft sales react quickly to the slightest perception of economic shakiness. *** Despite that we have some bright spots.
Sun ‘n Fun 2008 is history, but planning is already underway for the 2009 event. Event boss John Burton confirmed we will again have the LAMA-hosted LSA Mall right at the front gate next April 21-26. A major success at this year’s Lakeland, Florida airshow, the industry Mall presentation featured 17 Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Weather prevented Fantasy Air’s Allegro from attending. Two days before the event, a tornado crushed a Sting S3 planned for display. And work at Quicksilver Manufacturing postponed the exhibit of the GT500 (they’re finishing SLSA approval, reports national sales manager, Todd Ellefson). *** The 17 who were in the ’08 LSA Mall enjoyed significant traffic all week and virtually every visitor to Sun ‘n Fun was at least exposed to Light-Sport Aircraft in a wide variety (although we were not able to enlist any trike or powered parachute companies).
Lots of folks are wondering about, or complaining about, the seemingly high prices of Light-Sport Aircraft. Recently a prior editor-in-chief of EAA publications, Scott Spangler, wrote a blog on JetWhine. Scott focused on expensive avionics as one reason LSA cost so much. While a factual observation, I believe the price increase is more complex. *** First, LSA suppliers install equipment like autopilots because buyers ask for them. A large chunk of all LSA are sold to “retiring” GA pilots used to such equipment in their Cessna or Bonanza. Simpler LSA are available; most suppliers have one. But customers are buying the loaded-panel jobs. *** Let’s look closer at those rising prices. Five years ago, in the pre-dawn of SP/LSA, a CT was selling for $60,000. Today it’s $125,000. By far the largest piece of that doubling is the euro’s soaring value compared to the dollar. Were the currencies at parity, that $125,000 would be $80,000.
Flight Design leads the LSA flock maintaining a market share of more than 20% since the start of SLSA certifications almost three years ago. Their first American export was CT2K, fine tuned in 2006 for U.S. pilots as the CTSW. Now sport pilots around the world can welcome the CTLS, the third generation of this successful design. *** Longer and sleeker, LS was lengthened 14 inches and has a list of new features. Although you can add a few options (leather seats and autopilot, for example) the base model has everything a Sport Pilot could want including Garmin radio, transponder, and GPS with XM, dual Dynon glass displays, and BRS parachute…all standard. *** The company says every mold on the all-carbon fiber aircraft was changed. You can see this in its larger cabin with aft windows, the wingtip treatment, and in a more “adult” look to the design.