You own an airplane — or you are considering buying one. With very few exceptions, you will want insurance for it. Can you get it? If yes, what will it cost? Will you get a good deal or not? Will the party offering to sell you insurance know anything about your Light-Sport Aircraft or Sport Pilot kit aircraft? If the company is Aviation Insurance Resources, or simply “AIR,” and if the agent is an affable fellow named Gregg Ellsworth, you are I luck. As this video shows, Gregg know insurance (you’d expect that; he’s selling the product) but he also knows your aircraft. Plus, as he is a pilot, too, he shares your enthusiasm for recreational aircraft. Watch and learn more.
Gone Flying …for You!Our VPRs have proven popular with some approaching a million views and several with hundreds of thousands of views. In my early days of writing aircraft reviews, I produced hundreds of such reports. Indeed those articles were the original foundation of this website. They date back into the 1980s and some even in the '70s. Yet, times change. After YouTube, Vimeo, and other video-hosting sites arrived, they drew huge viewership. YouTube is often said to be the #2 search engine on the Internet after Google. People love videos! Videoman Dave informed an inquiring group of pilots that his Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel now generates 1.8 million views a month (for all his 1,000+ videos, which include all the ones in which I perform). We joined the parade and now create VPRs, involving mounting up to eight Garmin Virb cameras as well as shooting from the ground, plus a stand-up review where I relate information immediately after flying the aircraft. Obvious, pilots enjoy these and we'll keep making more. Magnus Fusion — Magnus Aircraft USA is the manufacturer of a Hungarian design called Fusion 212. Designed in 2013 with first flight in 2015, and FAA acceptance as a Special LSA in 2017, Fusion is one of the newest aircraft in the SLSA List, in the #146 spot. The U.S. assembly site brings in carbon components from Hungary but the American operation is acknowledged by FAA as the official producer of the LSA version, according to boss Istvan Foldesi. This all-carbon-fiber design is a low wing side-by-side model with dashing performance featuring quick climb rates with the Rotax 912 ULS. Fusion cruises at 110-115 knots and exhibited very accommodating handling. Watch for many more details and get plenty of views when the video is released. SilverLight AR1 — To handle this VPR a bit differently, I asked pilot/instructor Greg Spicola to pretend I was a new gyroplane student. That's close to accurate as I have about four hours under my belt in a variety of gyroplanes. However, except for a few differences associated with a spinning wing, AR1, like all gyroplanes, can be flown essentially as a you'd operate a fixed wing LSA. "Power before pitch" was a mantra Greg drilled into me and that with a few other differences — such as operating the rotor pre-rotator and learning to brake the rotor disk before making abrupt turns on the ground — are easy enough to learn. It only takes a bit of "unlearning" so one's fixed wing habits don't result in the wrong actions by the pilot. These aircraft are special in many ways — the ability to descend vertically (although not land that way) and to make seriously tight turns about a point — that combine with massive visibility at affordable prices …all of which explain some of the growing popularity of these aircraft types. Again, look for many more details and views when the video emerges from the edit suite. As the show wound down, we did an interview with Executive Director Mike Willingham and Executive Assistant Bev Glarner. The longtime team are the key players behind the event these days but we also asked questions about the airport itself. Watch for that update when editing is complete, but please be patient as Videoman Dave is already working his way across the southern states en route to Copperstate 2019. This year, the long-running event has moved from from October to February. If you live in the southwest, come on out to the event and give a wave when you see us dashing about to record more great video interviews and VPRs for you.
The final day of the Sebring U.S. Sport Aviation Expo brought good flying conditions until mid-afternoon when light precipitation returned. The good start allowed us to record two Video Pilot Reports (VPR), one on the Magnus Aircraft all-carbon-fiber Fusion 212 and the other on the fully enclosed SilverLight Aviation American Ranger AR1 gyroplane. The videos will take some time to edit but I’ll provide a quick glimpse below. One surprise arrival was Aeromarine LSA‘s Mermaid. Remember this model? This Chip Erwin creation was really the forerunner of the modern LSA seaplane category. Before Mermaid, we had Progressive Aerodyne‘s Searey and Aero Adventure‘s Aventura. Both those models have been upgraded for the time of ASTM standards compliance but early in the new millennium it was accurate to call them “ultralight seaplanes” built of gusseted aluminum structures covered with sewn Dacron surfaces.
Deals, Dreams, & PartiesInfinity Power Parachutes — We shot a video interview with Frank Williams of Infinity Power Parachutes. He is taking over the company from Alvie Wall but the founder will stay involved to help. They've been working together as Frank transitioned into the business. We reviewed the current line-up of Infinity models. Their Challenger is a single place, Rotax 503-powered, true Part 103 aircraft that sells ready-to-fly complete with big off-runway tires, 375 square-foot canopy, and engine instrumentation for mere $17,000. Given the average price of a new car in America is now reported at $33,000, I'd said Challenger qualifies as a bargain aircraft. You may not think of yourself as a powered parachute pilot but my personal experience is these aircraft offer the best visibility in aviation combined with slow flying speeds (30s mph) that allow you thoroughly absorb the view. The two Commander models are powered either by the Rotax 582 (65 horsepower) or the Rotax 912 (80-100 horsepower). These tandem two place aircraft use a 500 or 550 square-foot canopy. Like Challenger, Infinity offers the two Commanders as ready-to-fly Special LSA. Delivery takes only four weeks and your aircraft will be delivered factory test-flown. All Infinity models use a dual three-inch angle beam structure that provides exceptional strength. Frontal bars preferred by some pilots are not needed for structural integrity, said Frank. Titan Aircraft T-51 — On Day One, I wrote about Titan Aircraft's sleek two place kit called Tornado. Today I want to show you an image of their subsequent — but completely different — T-51, a Mustang replica that is amazingly true to form. Look for yourself. I had quite the experience flying the original prototype many years back and I can attest this is one interesting flying machine. I've also flown in a striking Stewart P-51 lookalike powered by a 450-horsepower Corvette engine but I've never gone aloft in a full military North American P-51 with 1,695 horsepower. However, for capable kit builders T-51 can deliver an intense sensation of nostalgia and a taste of what it must have been like for hundreds of twenty-something fighter jocks in World War II. Hoo, rah! Although T-51 is not a Light-Sport Aircraft, it was released in the same year of the very first SLSA acceptances by FAA, 2005. Duc Propellers USA — After reliving my vivid Mustang experience I needed to relax. What better way to do that than to attend the Duc Propellers grand opening party celebrating the French prop maker's new USA headquarters at the Sebring airport. The new facilities will provide North American sales, service, and maintenance for the Duc line of props. A spacious hangar has been leased at Sebring with offices and work areas provided by the airport. Lead by their capable outreach man, Michael Dederian, Duc has made great inroads into the Light-Sport and Sport Pilot Kit space. At the kick-off party, Duc assembled an impressive number of airplanes from the Expo — each fitted with Duc props, of course — providing a mini-airshow right outside their quarters. I estimate around 250 attended their party, which was very professionally organized and catered. Go, Duc!
As Day Three arrived, blue skies returned to Sebring after a damp start on Day Two and with them came the best crowds of pilots and companions of any day so far …by far. As you see in the lead photo (home page), crowds were often so thick around aircraft that a picture barely showed the flying machine. It was a fun if chilly day and the mood of pilots and aircraft reps was upbeat. I was also informed that a number of paid sales went down and prospects are talking seriously about other purchases. Most aircraft vendors know a purchase of this size may warrant additional thought post-event but clearly some customers had come ready to deal. For years I’ve maintained that sector-specific shows like Sebring produce more sales per visitor than the big shows. Neither pilots nor vendors can miss Sun ‘n Fun or Oshkosh and still claim to be true-blue aviators.
"New or Used?"That is a question pondered by vendors. Many businesses representing airframe manufacturers cater exclusively to the new aircraft sales. Many regard used aircraft, even their own brand, as competitors. Some, like Scott Severen of US Sport Planes, see used aircraft — especially for the Jabiru brand he represents for North America — as an alternate for his enterprise. He displayed two pristine Jabiru LSA with prices 50% under a new model. They are not the same as current new models but from my look, many buyers would find them highly desirable. Did I mention for half the price of new? Scott and other vendors have taken a more entrepreneurial approach to used aircraft, turning the sale of used LSA into a profit center to support their business rather than fighting futilely against the presence of a growing used fleet of LSA. "I earn more with a new plane but I can do fine with used," Scott said. "My reasoning best serves the customer, too, as a pilot looking for new isn't interested in used and a customer who wants to spend less is motivated by a lower price (photos)." Another veteran of the LSA business is John Hurst who represented a pair of Breezers that also look very good despite being used. Breezer Aircraft of Germany has not had a U.S. representative for several years but existing ones can certainly be given some tender loving care (home page image). "I went through the airplanes from nose to tail," said John, while noting the exceptionally good flying characteristics. If he doesn't move this pair of Breezer sooner, look for one in the LSA Mall at Sun 'n Fun in a couple months. Naturally, both Scott and John are also happy to supply brand new LSA with as many bells and whistles as you like. Scott has the whole Jabiru line for the entire USA and John represents Flight Design and its CT-series in the southeast U.S. on behalf of Flight Design USA.
New Is NiceA couple new airplanes that appeared to be drawing good attention were the Aeropilot L600 and the Magnus Fusion 212. L600 importer Deon Lombard said he expecting his first with the Rotax 912iS. "The injected engine installation has been all worked out and the manufacturer keeps making airframe improvements," said Deon. The two aircraft he exhibited have some hours on them criss-crossing the country from his base in Southern California, but these are two clean flying machines. See our Video Pilot Report here. Magnus is represented here at Sebring by Istvan Foldesi, who reports fully building the Fusion in the USA using parts fabricated in Hungary. The smooth composite — mostly carbon fiber construction with an elegant dual-taper wing — is making the rounds at airshows and attracting admiring looks, I have observed. At Sebring company pilots were giving demo flights to prospective customers. (Magnus also supplied a yummy native Hungarian dessert — they literally transported a suitcase-full — and the treat was enjoyed by all exhibitors at Sebring's exhibitor reception on Wednesday evening.) Other companies also told us about new models or upgrades coming in the near future, perhaps as soon as Sun 'n Fun 2019. It looks to be an exiting new year for Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot Kits.
Here's Our Race-Around-Sebring Videohttps://youtu.be/YYONP0o7ERA
“Duck and cover” was a phrase to describe the morning on Thursday, Day Two at Sebring. Rain that lasted until late morning dampened turnout and you can’t blame those who stayed home because tomorrow, Friday January 25th, looks much better. It will be cooler (by Florida standards, 60°F) but clear skies are forecast. Plus, it’s Friday, so come on out and enjoy! We took advantage of the wet weather to visit inside displays and will have videos coming on the Wingbug airdata WiFi device; about insurance for Light-Sport Aircraft, ELSA, Sport Pilot Kits from Aviation Insurance Resources; and on Whelens line of very bright LED strobes. Once they are edited and uploaded, find them on the YouTube channel of Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer. Please be patient for the videos. Soon after Sebring, Videoman Dave and I head out to Copperstate for the show now co-produced with Buckeye Air Fair at an all-new time of the calendar: February 8-9-10.
Sebring Day One was true to form for the 15th running of this grandaddy of Light-Sport and Sport Pilot Kit shows. Airport manager Mike Willingham told me opening day attendance was better than opening day last year. He and the entire Expo team certainly benefitted from good weather, a tad windy, but blue skies and temperatures hitting 80° F (27°C). Videoman Dave and I recorded several new video interviews for you. One of the first will be our classic race-around tour of exhibits on opening day. We also talked to many in the business. The government shutdown appears to be having some effect on industry. One example regards FAA inability to make inspections so a vendor can get the Special Airworthiness certificate needed to complete delivery of a new SLSA (meaning final payments cannot be collected, no small matter to many LSA or SPE kit enterprises). However, few vendors actually introduced the topic suggesting the bad news may be localized.
Sebring Sport Aviation Expo 2019 — I’m here. Where are you? Weather looks good for the opening tomorrow here in Sebring, Florida, where temperatures were in the mid 70s (23 C). Blue skies prevailed although the air was bumpy according to several who flew airplanes in for display. While a good many airplanes are already here, an equal number were still not on the grounds at 6 PM, so some hustling will have to occur. …and it will! I attend seven or eight airshows every year. I’ve done this for many years. I’m here to assure you that the night before opening, the place is utter pandemonium with no possible hope in sight of having everyone in position and ready for business by morning. It can’t happen. …yet it does! One of the most marvelous transformations to be seen is a lonely expanse of concrete ramp turning into a colorful, energetic, ultimately cool place to hang out, look at lots of pretty airplanes of all kinds, talk flying to your old pals and new friends, catch a forum, participate in a work shop, take a demo flight if you’re in the market — heck, take several flights.
CT Super Sport InjectionThe German developer of the CT series is now planning to offer the CT Super Sport Injection in North America. CT Super Sport is the popular model sold in Europe with a cruising speed of 120 knots, VNE of 146 knots, useful load of more than 600 pounds (272 kilograms), and an affordable price. "This variation will now be reintroduced to the Americas," reported Tom Peghiny, President of Flight Design USA. “We have sold versions of the CTLS since its introduction in 2008 and wanted to bring back a lighter model primarily for the U.S. and Canadian markets. After consultation with our Canadian distributor, Flight Design Canada we decided to begin importing the CT Super Sport Injection, which is the model equipped with the advanced Rotax 912iS," said Peghiny. CT Super Sport is a derivative of the famous CTSW but has been upgraded with many features of the CTLSi including the 912iS 100 horsepower fuel-injected engine, a single beam composite “no bounce” main gear, a centrally located 10-inch Dynon SkyView Touch EFIS/EMS/Map Screen, and 2020-compliant Dynon Class One Mode S Transponder with ADS-B out. Lightly equipped as described, Flight Design said CT Super Sport Injection has a useful load of over 600 pounds (272 kilograms) can cruise at 120 knots, has a VNE of 146 knots, a maximum range of 700-800 nautical miles (1,481 kilometers) and is compliant as an SLSA in the U.S. and as an Advanced Ultralight Aircraft in Canada, as well as all other countries following the FAA-LSA regulation. Back On Top — “After a successful 2018, Flight Design is once again at the top of the SLSA ‘All Fleet’ ranking according to the FAA registration data recently published on the Tableau Public website,” the company wrote. “With the new 2018 registration numbers that were released, Flight Design was second total (when including Experimental LSA and Amateur Built kits) and first in Special Light Sport Aircraft (ASTM-compliant, ready to fly).” “We are excited by the news and want to thank our staff and USA dealers,” said Flight Design CEO Lars Joerges. “Flight Design was the market leader since the beginning of Light Sport Aircraft category, which was one of the reasons we acquired the company. We also want to thank Dan Johnson for his persistent support of the light end of aviation both by his website ByDanJohnson.com and his leadership of LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association group that represents manufacturers,” added Joerges.
European CTLSi-ELAFlight Design general aviation is pleased to announce that on 15 November 2018, the Czech subsidiary of Flight Design was awarded EASA Part21G approved Production Organization Approval (POA) under approval number CZ.21G.0065 issued by the Civil Aviation Agency of the Czech Republic. What does this mean? “The approval allows the company to deliver certified aircraft for delivery in Europe and the rest of the world,” said Joerges. “This is good news for owners of CTLS-ELA aircraft currently operating under EASA’s Permit-to-Fly and for new customers looking for an advanced EASA certified light aircraft,” explained Flight Design general aviation COO, Daniel Guenther. “We can now offer owners of CTLS-ELA aircraft operating across Europe to bring their planes back to Flight Design for upgrading and conformity confirmation to allow them to have a permanent Restricted Flight Certificate (RTC).” Planning for the upgrade program is in the final stages and customers will be informed about the details in February 2019. Flight Design observed that the company’s CT-series aircraft have been sold around the world since 2008 as Special Light-Sport Aircraft. "CTLSi-ELA brings a well proven platform, the security of an all carbon fiber airframe with an aircraft emergency rescue system and the high technology of all Flight Design aircraft," officials said.
We're Off to Sebring!On Wednesday January 23rd, 2019 kicks off with the 15th running of Sebring. This year is also the 15th anniversary of FAA establishing the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft sector in American aviation. This accomplishment was the "regulation heard 'round the world" in that many countries have now adapted the ASTM standards for use in their countries making exports from one country to another vastly easier than in the Part 23 certified aircraft world. Sebring has become a premiere showcase for Light-Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot Eligible (or SPE) kit-built aircraft. We'll do our best to report daily from the event for those that cannot attend. In addition Videoman Dave and I will be transitioning to Warp Drive as we cover the grounds seeking the best video interviews. Click or tap back daily!
As a new season of flying is upon us (even while northern pilots may still be still shoveling snow), one company continues their vigorous comeback. Flight Design announced completion of a new product and is offering a second. Based on the same CT-based airframe, the two are notably different. CT Super Sport Injection The German developer of the CT series is now planning to offer the CT Super Sport Injection in North America. CT Super Sport is the popular model sold in Europe with a cruising speed of 120 knots, VNE of 146 knots, useful load of more than 600 pounds (272 kilograms), and an affordable price. “This variation will now be reintroduced to the Americas,” reported Tom Peghiny, President of Flight Design USA. “We have sold versions of the CTLS since its introduction in 2008 and wanted to bring back a lighter model primarily for the U.S.
Go Exploring — ALL the Aircraft!To go roam around the ocean of info about light aircraft, click or tap to this NEW Tableau Public page*. On it you will find the familiar "Dashboard" as you arrive at the website. At the top of the page, look for a row of tabs. You will now find two new tabs labeled, "This-Yr Ranking" and "All-Yr Ranking." I think they are pretty self-explanatory. You can still tweak these depictions any way you wish. For example, once you click on the "This-Yr Ranking" tab you will see two tables. One has a ranking by brand only. The right-hand table has ranking by model, that is, the most registered models. Then, you can go to, for example, the third blue box on the left edge and click off Kit/Other to see only SLSA or click off SLSA to see only Kit/Other entries. The larger blue box above helps you focus on one or more selected brands. Click off "(All)" and then pick the brand or brands you want to examine. Likewise you can also select a type of aircraft (top box) or a method of FAA approval ("Choose Certification" in the fourth blue box), or zero in on amphibious aircraft in the lowest blue box. Back on the Tableau home page, some of you found — and apparently enjoyed; we heard from several of you — that you can go find your own aircraft. Every single one of the 7,974 aircraft making up this review can be viewed. Pretty cool, huh?
Why Did We Make This Change?Simply put, you asked and we want to be responsive. We also want to include ALL aircraft that a Sport Pilot (or someone using a higher certificate to exercise the privileges of Sport Pilot) may fly. I think we have all of them now, but if we find more, we will include them in ongoing reporting. EABs and ELSA — while not demonstrating compliance to ASTM standards — are still very legitimately part of what this website endeavors to cover. Our tagline is "News & Video on Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, and ultralight aircraft" and we mean to cover all those types. Of course, we cannot count Part 103 ultralights as they are never given N-numbers but we want to gather all the other appropriate producers and owners in our tent. New phrase: "Sport Pilot Eligible Kits" — which I will start abbreviating as SPE Kits — denotes kit-built aircraft, either Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) or Experimental, meaning kit, Light-Sport Aircraft (ELSA). We only count kits, or SLSA, after 2005 as that's when the first SLSA was accepted by FAA. Before that, we had no Sport Pilot certificate, so no kit aircraft model could consider itself Sport Pilot Eligible. Steve Beste and I believe our current Tableau Public page title — "Light Sport Aircraft, Sport Pilot Eligible Kits, and Modern Gyroplanes" — best reflects the energy, diversity, design variety, and uniqueness of this sector of aviation. One More Thing: Of personal satisfaction to me, this refreshed effort strengthens a claim in this chart that the USA has about 13,000 LSA or LSA-like aircraft. One difference between the 8,000 we can accurately count and which appear in Tableau Public are 4,000 or so "fat ultralights" that were converted to ELSA, a program that ended in 2010. The small difference still remaining can mostly be filled with Part 103 ultralight vehicles, so that 2015 survey looks even more solid and reliable. I wrote "accurately" and we do believe we have done this correctly. However, when you get into kits the problem can be more difficult because a kit-built aircraft may be registered with the model name "Bob Jones Flyer," when in fact it was an airplane built from an Avid Flyer kit but modified in ways that our theoretical Bob wanted to immortalize by assigning his name to the model. That's perfectly OK with FAA but makes identifying it somewhat harder. Nonetheless, we think the new-and-improved list on Tableau Public is now even more informative. This information is not well covered by anyone else but we felt it was worthwhile and we hope you agree. * Note that Tableau presently works best on a desktop or laptop computer with a larger screen. Tableau arranges some of the data for tablets and somewhat less for smartphones as insufficient screen area exists to portray it all. Steve will be working on these mobile device presentations soon.
Update 1/15/19: Thanks to reader feedback — a resource we value very highly — we have updated our statistics to correct another naming challenging. “Zodiac” turned up 53 more registrations since 2005: 52 601s and one 650. “Of the 53 additions, four were registered in 2018. That bumps our total fleet to 8,027,” wrote Steve Beste. Check Tableau Public for the latest data. —DJ “What about my plane,” a number of you asked? “I didn’t see [XYZ brand] of aircraft,” a few others wrote. “How come you didn’t include what I fly,” several inquired? You spoke (or wrote). We listened. The result? 7,974 aircraft (up from 6,305) is our refreshed count of all Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft flying machines registered in America. My advisor and consultantant in this deep data dive, IT expert Steve Beste and I decided to enlarge the “universe.” While sticking to the 2005 date when FAA accepted the first SLSA, we can now broaden the aircraft registration database search to include brands like Kolb, Quad City, Sonex, Titan, Murphy, Aero Adventure, Sport Performance and more, plus additional kit aircraft models from companies that do both SLSA and Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) deliveries.
Introducing Tableau!Using a new service that our associate Steve Beste engaged, check out the "Dashboard" look at the LSA industry at Tableau Public. At a glance, view a quantity of information you've never seen before. You will find colorful charts, lists, and maps but the truly great aspect of this is that you can modify what data shows with a few clicks or taps. You can rearrange the data to your interest and the charts will change to depict your selections. For those focused on market share ranks such as this article relates, use this Tableau Market Share Rank for full lists. (Note that the two Tableau links present the data differently. Further note that so much info is available at these links that smartphones will be challenged to show it all.) All data is up-to-date through the end of 2018 — which is by far the fastest we've ever presented this information. Through a significant investment of time, Steve made this new dataset easier to compile, so that we can now report more frequently than in the past. Unlike other groups, we do not rely on company reports of sales, billings, or deliveries. Instead we go direct to FAA's aircraft registration database, the folks that issue N-numbers. As always, we advise you this information will not precisely match what a company may report for their sales but over time, the two sets of numbers should become very close. Using professional grade tech skills, Steve added his personal interest in light aviation to create a wonderful, fresh resource. You can read in precise language how he arrives at the numbers we now report. Steve and I went back and forth creating rules to collect the right data from FAA's database and we are satisfied that the current system represents all companies and brands as fairly and consistently as possible. In the interest of accuracy, we are keen to hear from any producer that can improve our information (note that Tableau visitors can identify every aircraft we counted if you care to drill that deep). Because this data display is so different and so comprehensive, we will present additional articles on using this new resource. Now, let's get to details that readers often seem to enjoy. What aircraft registered the best numbers for 2018? What aircraft are the most popular since LSA were introduced? It's all here and much more.
By the NumbersBig Numbers First — For our categories of "Light-Sport Aircraft, Light Kit Aircraft, and Modern Gyroplanes," the total swelled to 6,305 U.S. Aircraft Registrations, a much larger number than our last report (with data through 2016). We report details in two primary ways for two primary periods. The periods are "All-Fleet," meaning all LSA or other Sport Pilot-Eligible aircraft that have been registered since 2004 when the rule was released; and, "Calendar Year" meaning the January to December period of the previous year. We have been doing both for several years but our reports were confined to fixed wing or "Airplane" Special Light-Sport Aircraft. That is now changing to a broader view that includes all registrations (see next).
Here We Go…!All-Fleet Rankings — Our familiar category of fully-built SLSA are slightly more numerous (3,245/51%) than Kit/Other (3,060/49%), for a total fleet of 6,305 aircraft of all types, SLSA and kit. Among SLSA builders of ready-to-fly aircraft, Flight Design returned to its lead position in All-Fleet at 328 aircraft, followed by Czech Aircraft Works (271), CubCrafters (245), and Tecnam (203). Trailing these leaders are American Legend (194), Jabiru (115), Remos (107), Progressive Aerodyne (97), Aeropro/Aerotrek and Pipistrel (96 each), and Evektor (89). See all brand ranks here. (Note Cessna was omitted after the company ceased selling their Skycatcher and destroyed all unsold examples.) In the Kit/Other category, Zenair/Zenith (616) leads Van's Aircraft (531) and Rans (436). The trio of leaders are well ahead of the next tier that includes AutoGyro (167), Progressive Aerodyne (153), CubCrafters (144), Kitfox (119), Powrachute (110), Just Aircraft (102), and Arion (77). Dig deeper here. For SLSA or kits, our rule is to count only aircraft models that have ever declared compliance to ASTM standards and been accepted by FAA. "All-Fleet" counts cumulative registrations since 2005, when the first LSA model was approved, essentially every aircraft that meets our formula. Read our prior article about the work behind the numbers. Calendar 2018 Rankings — Last year, kits slightly beat Special LSA 298 (50.6%) to 291 (49.4%) for a total of 589 aircraft registered. Calendar-year leader, Icon Aircraft logged 57 new ready-to-fly SLSA registrations. They were trailed by Progressive Aerodyne (21) and BRM Aero (15 Bristells), which tied with Pipistrel. Evolution trikes and American Legend tied (14), followed by Czech Aircraft Works (13), Flight Design and Tecnam (12 each), and The Airplane Factory with 9 Slings. See the whole list here (then click the box to show only SLSA). Among kit builders, Zenair/Zenith lead with 75 units registered followed by Van's (44), Rans (35), AutoGyro (24), Magni Gyro (20), Powrachute (19), and SilverLight (12). See the whole list here. Above, we reported fully-built aircraft separately from kits and other types in this post but you can combine them using Tableau. You can also arrange in several other ways or look at a single or few brands. Both fully-built LSA and kit aircraft — using our ASTM compliance qualifier — can be flown by someone using a Sport Pilot certificate. Therefore, we include all LSA-like aircraft that are technically not a Special Light-Sport Aircraft — Experimental Amateur Built kits, for example — as "Sport Pilot Eligible (SPE)," a term coined by a former EAA representative, Ron Wagner. Not only can we rank Special LSA and SPE kit builders separately — as we should; they are very different business models — but we trust you observed that we can also include weight shift control "trikes," powered parachutes, motorgliders, Lighter-than-Air, all the classes of LSA beside fixed-wing airplanes. We further accommodated modern-style gyroplane as SPE kits because they are strong sellers could qualify as Special LSA if FAA decides. We were never able to include all aircraft types in the past due to data entry challenges that Steve Beste solved by his rigorous definition and execution of how we collect the numbers. See his explanation here. You are free to comment on this technique, but rest assured we discussed this at some length before arriving at our current methods. As a product of these major changes, these reports now reflect a larger number of aircraft than ever before to show the real impact light aviation is having on U.S. and global aviation. Perhaps you remember from previous reporting, the USA accounts for about 20% of all LSA-like aircraft worldwide (chart), the mirror opposite of Type Certificated general aviation aircraft where America is home to 80% of the global fleet. We believe this release of information represents the most complete picture of light aviation in America… EVER! We hope you enjoy and will study the information as much as you like. Feedback is welcome; use the comment feature. * Naturally, not everyone is excited about statistics. With Steve‘s permission I enjoy relating his personal experience as he labored to assemble all this information. Steve wrote, “I confess that no one in my family has the slightest interest. Their eyes glaze over. They look for the exits.” You don't have to love this information, of course, but if you do love the data …I trust we scratched your itch. 😁
If you like Light-Sport Aircraft and if you like statistics, you are going to love this article.* Our wholly refreshed look at aircraft registrations marks the return of our popular market share rankings and now includes much more information. We also provide more aircraft classes in various tables and charts and much of this is user-configurable. Yet, as late night TV advertisers might exclaim, “That’s not all. It gets even better!” You have always been able to consume all our market share info that includes articles about the industry and enterprise of light aviation conveniently grouped on its own page. With the relaunch of this popular and vital component of ByDanJohnson.com, you gain new ways of looking at the information. Let’s call it LSA Market Info 2.0 Introducing Tableau! Using a new service that our associate Steve Beste engaged, check out the “Dashboard” look at the LSA industry at Tableau Public.
Infotech + Aircraft = Multicopters What Happens When Infotech Meets Air Traffic Control?Jabiru importer Scott Severen alerted me to the Motherboard article but it was about more than Lift's new aircraft. The article addressed the challenges of air traffic control in the new age, that new age that may herald a coming swarm of multicopters. Consider the following…
According to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are about 5,000 passenger aircraft in the sky at any given time, which require 521 aircraft towers, 25 air route traffic control centres, and 6,000 airway transportation systems specialists to coordinate. Meanwhile, the FAA also predicts that the number of unmanned drones registered in its database could surge to more than 6 million by 2021—a fleet of robot that will have to be taken into account when we’re divvying up the skyline."Divvying up the skyline" where skyline means airspace sounds rather threatening to current pilots. Many pilots have told me they worry about drones or multicopters interfering with the enjoyment of their aircraft, or worse, causing safety problems. Those concerns may be real but the new flying machines identify the weakness in our current ATC system, great as it has been for aviation safety. It simply takes so many highly-paid controllers with hundreds of facilities and a need for ever-increasing equipment sophistication. That paragraph quoted above sends a message. ATC depends on up to 6,000 workers to move 5,000 aircraft around the skies safely. Imagine millions of new flying machines and the old system begins to look creaky. Already, many criticize FAA for using out-dated computers and other equipment and federal employment system that creates high costs. Can the tech world improve on this? Every day, the FAA's Air Traffic Organization provides service to more than 43,000 flights and 2.6 million airline passengers across more than 29 million square miles of airspace. See this FAA page for more infographics on services FAA performs. That, too, may be changing. Motherboard reported, "NASA is already developing an air-traffic control framework that could track unmanned flying cars that fly under 500 feet. As reported in Skift, the NASA system is meant to be automated. [NASA will] finish its research by 2019, and hand over ideas for the FAA to implement no later than 2025." A Brave New World could start in 2019.
Throughout the 115 years since the Wrights took their Flyer into the skies for the first time, aviation has enjoyed remarkable progress. Wing design, engine design, instrumentation changes, safety enhancements… we have witnessed many dramatic changes in how aircraft ply the skies and do so with increasing efficiency and with less danger to occupants or those on the ground. All of us who enjoy flight know much about this, but things are changing and perhaps fast enough to push many of us current-aviation experts into a discomfort zone. As you have seen on this website and just about any media outlet reporting on new developments, multicopters are looming ever larger on the horizon. More and more startups — many funded with tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars! — are jumping into the game. Huge aviation names such as Boeing and Airbus are deep into work on new-style flying machines.
Friends in the SkyBesides the great airplanes I am privileged to fly and report, I have the opportunity to meet many fascinating people. The Seamax LSA seaplane image shows me (still draped with or holding camera gear after doing a Video Pilot Report) along with very-talented Brazilian design Miguel Rosario (center) and William "Rocky" Roquemore (right), the generous owner of this flying machine who was kind enough to let me take his plane and receive about an hour's worth of flight instruction in handling Seamax on the water and in the air. Pictured nearby are aircraft reviewer, designer, and owner …three people essential to conducting a video pilot review. Of course this leaves out two other equally essential people. You also need a qualified CFI who knows the subject airplane intimately well and Russ Miley fit the bill perfectly. I've flown with a lot of other pilots and Russ performed his role exceptionally well. The final key player — without whom these videos you love would simply not happen — is videographer and YouTube channel owner, Dave Loveman. Thanks to all for their respective contribution.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!Here's to 2019 being a great year of flying for thousands of pilots around the world and a successful year of business for those who make the airplanes we love. Thanks to Tomas Brødreskift and the team at Equator for the home page and social media photo used to promote this article.
As pilots clear the skies so Santa and his flying reindeer can go about their mission, it seems fitting to offer a word of thanks to all of you who have frequently visited this website. Our surveys show more than 65,000 Light-Sport Aircraft and LSA-like aircraft around the globe and we are proud to reach most of these pilots at some time every month. Pilots have often told me that I have the best job in the world and they may be right. Certainly I enjoy what I do and hope it shows on this website and in the hundreds of videos on which I have interviewed talented people or reviewed aircraft. See the best of them here and all of them (and more) on Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer. As 2019 approaches, we near the 15th anniversary of the Light-Sport category and the Sport Pilot certificate.
Handiflight Goes Global into 2019Beyond the monumental task of planning such lengthy flight, this and other emergency scenarios were surely contemplated by the pilot team from Handiflight as they prepared for their circumnavigation of the globe in twin CTLS Light-Sport Aircraft. Handiflight's goal is both simple and enormous at once: "A challenging and inspiring global adventure promoting the inclusion of disabled people and values such as commitment, fraternity, and fellowship." Handiflight 2018/2019 hopes to "contribute to changing people’s perceptions of disability and combating prejudices and exclusion" and to "turn dreams into reality, face new challenges, explore new pathways, discover new horizons by flying … across the most amazing and demanding areas of our planet. An additional goal is to "strengthen the global network of disabled aviators all around the world in collaboration with the FAI and local flying clubs." CTLS aircraft with call signs Whisky Yankee Alpha and WY Bravo set off on this expedition just a few days ago. Here is the planned itinerary for their nearly 50,000-mile voyage.
- Departure — November 2018
- Australia — February 2019
- New-Zealand — March 2019
- South Pacific — April-May 2019
- South America — June 2019
- North America — July 2019
- Europe — August 2019
UPDATE 30 Dec 2018 — Sad news about a crash of one of the Handiflight aircraft with the loss of one of the pilots. See Comments. —DJ Imagine you are flying along in your well-maintained Light-Sport Aircraft with its reliable engine. You are flying a long distance over all sorts of terrain, including vast stretches of water. All is humming along and the miles or kilometers are clicking past. What an experience to fly around the world! Very, very few pilots will ever tackle such a grand challenge. Then, the unexpected happens. Your engine quits. You have a plan. You trained for this and you are experienced. You leap into action. Imagine that you find an acceptable landing area but the location is very remote. That seems rather likely when flying all the way around the planet. Touchdown goes OK. The airplane is undamaged. You are fine. However, you cannot raise anyone on the radio and you are not sure your airborne mayday call was heard.
Electric Airplanes and DronesNot many years ago, such a title would have provoked raised eyebrows or confusion. We didn't have any electric airplanes until around 2007 when Randall Fishman showed up at Oshkosh with his very credible single place (Part 103) trike ultralight powered by battery-supplied electric motors. But wait… is that right? The truth is, electric aircraft go way back, to even before the Wrights' famous flight 115 years ago. An article about the newest LSA candidate — a first Lighter-than-Air category — also uses electric power for horizontal movement but FlyDoo developer Leandro Corradini was far from the first. Back in the late 1800s. the earliest airships also used electric power, decades before Flyer's success at Kitty Hawk. Kevin Desmond demonstrates this most convincingly with his new book — "Electric Airplanes and Drones, A History." As the full title suggests, he begins with a historical perspective that imparted a slack-jawed look to my face. Kevin unearthed facts of early flight (real or fanciful) that I'd never heard or even imagined. With a vast range, Kevin's book goes literally from prehistoric times to futuristic developments and about everything imaginable in between. The 300-page book starts from the most foundational efforts to the invasion of electric motors on RC models, to solar power, to Lithium batteries, to the three Hs (hybrid, hydrogen, helium), to drones, to flying cars, and into tomorrow. Based in France prolific writer Kevin (27 books and 300 articles) traipses all over the planet to follow developments of electric power on flying machines. Dense pages packed with information are accented with many illustrations, a couple of which are presented nearby. "Electric Airplanes and Drones" isn't cheap at $49.95 but it is a monumental effort describing the whole of the field in ways I have never seen documented. Bravo, Kevin! Get more info or order at McFarland Books.
Roy's Powered Parachute BookStop! Don't quit reading here because you're a fixed wing or trike guy or gal that does not care about powered parachutes. Indeed, as our new market info guy, Steve Beste, has shown (and you will soon get to read), powered parachutes continue to sell in stronger numbers than you may have known. These unwieldy-looking flying machines are also some of the best priced and funnest aircraft you can consider. Plus, FAA regs say you can get a Sport Pilot certificate in a powered parachute in a mere 12 hours, the lowest requirement of any Light-Sport Aircraft. These facts make powered parachutes among the most approachable of any aircraft. Roy Beisswenger's monumental effort — the large format (9 x 12 inches) volume contains about 400 pages — is significantly applicable to all forms of flight. The book contains Federal Aviation Regulations, test guides, and a glossary that almost any sport pilot would value. If you've seen Roy's Powered Sport Flying magazine, you already know his prodigious talent in illustration. (If you haven't seen PSF, I urge you to subscribe.) Roy's book also features extensive use of his artistic ability and hundreds of photos (nearly all of which he took himself). The book is lavishly illustrated with diagrams and images to help explain Roy's easy-reading words and it is all presented in a ready-to-absorb magazine-style layout that showcases Roy's creativity in multiple ways. If your loved one is the least bit interested in powered parachutes, "Roy's Powered Parachute Book" is the ultimate Christmas gift (also available on Amazon). Like Kevin Desmond's book it isn't cheap but this is — far and away — the most comprehensive book on the subject ever written. Fantastic job, Roy! https://youtu.be/CMNpIfEQyOc
UPDATE 12/20/18 — Video added regarding the second book below. See at bottom of post… Unlike most aviation outlets, I’ve refrained from putting out a Christmas gift guide for pilots. I prefer to stick closely to aircraft as that’s what you pilots want the most. I learned this lesson many years ago when I starting writing light airplane reviews and found a market that lead to this website. However, as a content creator I admire the work of other writers and in this post I have a couple for your consideration. Possible Christmas gifts or otherwise, these offer good wintertime reading when the snow flies and temperatures drop below freezing. Electric Airplanes and Drones Not many years ago, such a title would have provoked raised eyebrows or confusion. We didn’t have any electric airplanes until around 2007 when Randall Fishman showed up at Oshkosh with his very credible single place (Part 103) trike ultralight powered by battery-supplied electric motors.
“Sling TSi was hands-down the hit of the show,” exclaimed The Airplane Factory USA. They reported one media outlet dubbed it the "Best New Sport Plane of 2018."
Builder Assistance for TSiAt an upcoming event at TAF USA’s base of operations — KTOA Airport in Torrance, California — the importer is closing a strong year by hosting one of their TAF Sling and Sling Flying Club Taco Social events. In addition to the Taco Bar treats (it is Southern California, after all, just a few miles from the Mexican border), attendees can hear about a most unusual Builder Assist experience. The “Main Event” will feature a presentation by Wayne and Matthew Toddun who traveled to South Africa to build their Sling TSi. Not only did the father and son travel half way around the world to build their Sling TSi, the aircraft was subsequently re-assembled in Oshkosh and shown to visitors before it was flown back to Los Angeles. TAF said that according to Matthew Toddun, "When my dad decided to purchase a new Sling aircraft for us to learn to how to fly, he went for the very best, the brand new Sling TSi!” Matthew continued, “When he decided [to pursue] a build assist program, he wanted the best assistance that we could get.” ”That is when our life-changing opportunity came about,” related Matthew. “[We would] travel to South Africa to build the first conforming Sling TSi. We spent a little over two weeks working side-by-side with the experienced factory crew, learning the ins and outs of our new plane, and assembling it piece by piece.” It was this Sling TSi that was revealed at Oshkosh 2018.
After Building, Learning to Fly Sling
Once you’ve built or bought a Sling aircraft, you can travel to SoCal and be trained at TAF USA’s new New Sling Pilot Academy.TAF USA also announced, “Next Year we are starting the Sling Pilot Academy to help prepare pilots for the airlines.” However, If you’re not in Southern California or don’t wish to travel to Torrence, you have another attractive alternative run by a veteran flight trainer.
“Life is grand in Carson City, Nevada at the Sport Aviation Center, said proprietor Paul Hamilton. "This has been a great year for flight training in the Sling. We have had a number of Sport Pilots go through the complete course from start to finish and successfully take their check ride.”Paul continued, “We are also teaching private pilots in the Sling LSA and now we have successfully completed three Private Pilot training and checkrides in the Sling. Additionally, two CFI long-expired certificates were reinstated with Sport Pilot CFI checkrides per 61.427. The Sling has been a reliable and tough workhorse and everybody loves how it flies up in the mountains. Check us out here.
When Rotax debuted their new 915iS engine at an Oshkosh press conference, Sling designer Mike Blyth raced forward at the end of the conference to closely examine the new power plant. It was clear to me this answered a creation he had in mind and now we can see the fruit of his ambition: the new Sling TSi. Since the Rotax 915iS remains a powerplant that requires an in-flight adjustable prop, it cannot be used on a Light-Sport Aircraft, but TSi is based on The Airplane Factory’s Sling 4 four seater so kit-built it must be. More on the builder effort below. For Oshkosh 2018, The Airplane Factory USA said, “[We are] excited to present the North American debut of the all-new Sling TSi! This kit is the airplane Sling fans have been waiting for!” The Southern California importer said TSi has all of the style, economy and practical utility of the Sling 4 but with more speed.
Electric Aircraft UpgradedXin Gou often reports via Twitter regarding Chinese light aircraft developments. Xin works with Willi Tacke, a well-known German publisher, electric flight enthusiast, and emerging China magazine entrepreneur. Xin and Willi work together on Flying China magazine. I actively follow Xin on social media where he is prolific posting items of interest to aviators. Reporting from the recently-concluded Zhuhai air show, Xin tweeted, "Liaoning GA Institute, China has upgraded their electric LSA called RX1E-A" — the "-A" denotes this change. "The brochure claims a two-hour charging time and a maximum duration of two hours." Both are worthy achievements. "The electric motor comes from a European supplier," reported Xin. "Liaoning engineers have also installed a whole airframe parachute. The organization received 10 orders from a Chinese operator." Read more about electric aircraft, Willi, and Aero in this article from 2015, which includes coverage of RX1E. Xin also works with Willi to publish the e-flight-journal, which extensively reports these developments. I believe it to be the leading publication in this space. I reported earlier on the RX1E (without the "-A"). It was an impressive construction but in 2015 it was still a work in progress, according to representatives at Aero Friedrichshafen LINK in Germany. In the ensuing three years, Liaoning made several changes. Xin added in a subsequent Tweet, "I forgot to mention… a four seater fully electric model is also in development! It will be quite different from this LSA model."
This short video will give you a brief tour of the earlier version of RX1E:https://youtu.be/xtOPhu5gYVE For lots more videos about electric aircraft use this link to the Light Sport and Ultralight Flyer YouTube channel.
China Opens the Door to Kit BuildingBesides the electric aircraft from Liaoning, Xin tweeted, "China is also opening the door for kit-built aircraft." While these have not been officially recognized until very recently, that is changing as the populous country cautiously embraces the ideas of private aviation. The nearby image shows the first experimental category aircraft in China. Approval was given to this aircraft from Europe. Note the "B-X001" tail number, Xin observes. "CAAC (the Chinese FAA) established the news experimental category in May 2018," reported Xin. "More kit-built airplane models will be built in China," he predicted. If you'd like to follow Xin on Twitter, search for @chineseflyer. His command of English is superb and he is a true aviation enthusiast reporting professionally on the growth of general and sport aviation in China. As noted, his work with Willi keeps him very in-the-know about electric aircraft, not only in China but around the globe.
One year ago, I was touring around China thanks to my good friends at AeroJones, the China-based manufacturer of the popular CTLS for the Asia-Pacific region. It was my second trip halfway around the world and I learned more about this country and its move to enter light aviation. In this article, I want to spotlight the newest model of an all-electric aircraft called the RX1E, plus the very first kit-built aircraft in the country, and Continental Motors’ support of another kit project. Electric Aircraft Upgraded Xin Gou often reports via Twitter regarding Chinese light aircraft developments. Xin works with Willi Tacke, a well-known German publisher, electric flight enthusiast, and emerging China magazine entrepreneur. Xin and Willi work together on Flying China magazine. I actively follow Xin on social media where he is prolific posting items of interest to aviators. Reporting from the recently-concluded Zhuhai air show, Xin tweeted, “Liaoning GA Institute, China has upgraded their electric LSA called RX1E-A” — the “-A” denotes this change.
Continental Motors Group's Titan Engine Powers Top CubThe availability of the Top Cub as a kit aircraft, powered by a Titan kit engine, marks the opening of the experimental market in China. Top Cub Aircraft and Continental are the first companies to offer a complete aircraft in kit form, after the Chinese CAAC agreed to allow experimental building in China. Wolfgang Qian, CEO of Liaoning Cub Aircraft Corp, said “The combination of the Titan IO-360 engine with our airframe offers the best power to weight ratio that we could hope. The strategic partnership with Continental Motors Group allows us to offer a highly reliable engine to our customers and to provide them with industry leading technical support. We are convinced that the experimental market will expand rapidly in China."
Continental Motors, part of China’s Avic International Holding, announced recently that they have entered a strategic partnership with Liaoning Cub Aircraft Corp to be the engine provider for the Top Cub, which the company said is the first kit aircraft built in China, for the Chinese market. The experimental Top Cub is based on the Part 23 certified Top Cub CC18-180, originally designed by CubCrafters and acquired by Top Cub Aircraft Inc., a subsidiary company of Liaoning, in 2015. Continental Motors Group’s Titan Engine Powers Top Cub The availability of the Top Cub as a kit aircraft, powered by a Titan kit engine, marks the opening of the experimental market in China. Top Cub Aircraft and Continental are the first companies to offer a complete aircraft in kit form, after the Chinese CAAC agreed to allow experimental building in China. Wolfgang Qian, CEO of Liaoning Cub Aircraft Corp, said “The combination of the Titan IO-360 engine with our airframe offers the best power to weight ratio that we could hope.
Enter MulticoptersThe little single place Kitty Hawk Flyer pictured above is one of several examples. Qualifying as a Part 103 ultralight, it may also be a multicopter you can actually buy and fly in the near future. Those many breathless stories in mainstream media about autonomously flown air taxis may paint a very different, possibly exciting image of the future of flight, but they may also be years, or decades, away. Vehicles like Kitty Hawk's Flyer could get to the market much sooner, assuming FAA throws up no roadblocks — I don't see the agency doing that, drones have registered more than a million units giving FAA extra duties but also knowledge, and leverage. Indeed, the drone/multicopter development must be music to the regulators' ears. Multicopters are also music to ears of prop makers. While Sensenich sells many propellers to Florida's air boat operators (who wear props out faster than an airplane), Duc Hélices has jumped into the rotorcraft and multicopter market. Good for them! More revenue from tech-billionaire-supported companies means more business for Duc, which should help them keep innovating for the light aircraft sector we all love. Look again at the Flyer. Here's a small, light, single-place aircraft with — count 'em — ten props whirring in dizzying circles. Ten props per plane! "Now we're talking," exclaims the boss!
Duc Hélices NewsAt the Aero Friedrichshafen 2018 show in Germany, Duc Propellers lifted the veil on their latest innovation as they presented a prototype of rotors for multicopters …eVTOLs, flying car, air taxis, and who knows what next. Last spring, Duc Hélices announced, "Our new branch, dedicated to the design and the realization of helicopter and multicopter rotors, is running at full speed." The company added, "A very large investment was required to finance four years of studies for the development of multicopter blades." They cited a new propeller production press and a series of qualification and validation tests including "form control; mechanical analysis of tensile strength/flexion/torsion; vibration tests; tests of aging; and fatigue." Complete and ready, Duc Propellers Company now offers literature and products for:
- Complete rotors for multicopter (composite blades and hub rotor head)
- Helicopter blades (up to 9 meter or 29.5 foot diameter)
- Full anti-torque rotor (RAC blades in composite and hub)
One More (New) ThingDuc Hélices has enjoyed considerable success in the U.S. market, thanks to persistent effort at airshows by their capable Michael Dederian. At LSA events these days, I see two brands all the time: Sensenich from Plant City, Florida and Duc Hélices from Frontenas, France. To better serve their growing U.S.market, Duc will open a new facility at the Sebring, Florida airport. To celebrate, Duc Propellers USA will host an official opening party in Hangar C2 (442 Hendricks Field Way). People attending the event are invited at 6 PM on Friday January 25, 2019. To confirm or ask questions about the kick-off party, contact Mrs. Héloïse Jonda at her email address.
Imagine you are in charge of marketing for French propeller manufacturer, Duc Hélices. The boss stops by your office and asks, “How are we going to sell more props?” You begin to cite statistics (maybe even this website and its market share data). With more worldwide sales of LSA and LSA-like aircraft (chart), sales could be good, you say. Successful twin engine airplanes like Lockwood’s AirCam or Tecnam‘s Twin that swing two propellers per aircraft certainly add to sales. (Rotax enjoys this, too.) Yet in the tech world, a 10% or 20% increase is nothing. Those hard-charging Silicon Valley companies have gotten used to things improving by orders of magnitude. “How can we increase sales by ten times,” demands the boss? “Well, hmmm…” you thoughtfully reply, “I think I have an idea.” Enter Multicopters The little single place Kitty Hawk Flyer pictured above is one of several examples.
Since shortly after ByDanJohnson.com went live (on April Fool’s Day 2004, just a few months before the LSA rule was released), one regular website feature has earned positive reviews. Our LSA market shares and ranking information was an instant hit with business people seeking data to use in running their LSA enterprises. Before long, pilots and customers began to value the effort. Later, I discovered people in government agencies in the USA and other countries were following these reports. With that support and attention from other media outlets, our LSA Market Share reporting became a staple of this website. Oddly (it seemed to me), this was the only place you could find it.* More and more of you have been asking about this data …and I am pleased to say it’s coming back! Our longtime data investigator, Jan Fridrich, got an offer he couldn’t refuse to help China grow their nascent general aviation market and his time is now too committed to perform the tedious and time consuming survey of FAA’s N-number database.
DeLand 2018 By the NumbersThe key number that everyone seems to focus on is attendance. Jana Filip announced, "The total attendee count for Showcase 2018 was 5,500 over the course of the three day event." Some organizations — including the biggest shows — count each person entering through a gate each day, even if the same person comes every day (meaning one individual could be seven "persons" if the show runs for a week. Many call that legitimate; they may buy something each day. Other observers think that is only one person attending seven times. In the end, what matters is consistency as you could argue either method is correct. However DeLand's 5,500 visitors are tallied, it's a net positive. Most attendees likely did not come all three days but what really matters is that virtually every attendee is clearly interested in what is exhibited or presented as no airshow entertainment is offered (other than the nearly non-stop skydiving). While the quantity doesn't compete with the giant shows, the quality of attendees is sky high; every one is motivated to be present. Jana continued, "All revenues were up from the prior year, from the Souvenir Shop to the admission gates, equating to a steady growth three years in a row. The Saturday of Showcase 2018 was our break-thru day, with perfect weather and more attendees than ever before.” I can affirm (and wrote that) Saturday was strong. Reports were the front gate ran out of wrist bands on Saturday and had to request more. Of course, shows like DeLand, Sebring, and Midwest also hope to promote their airport and its development. This has worked extremely well for Sebring, the grandaddy of these sector-specific shows. The Central Florida airport has new tenants and flight operators because of producing the show. Likewise, DeLand is promoting its "DeLand Sport Aviation Village, a 40-acre commerce park" where businesses can get hangar space in an incubator-like concept. They also reported a brand-new airport administration building is almost complete. The Showcase will have offices in this new structure. One More Thing… Because this post is about airshows and because 2018 events are now history, our left column has all the correct 2019 dates for your planning. If you can make it, please wave when Videoman Dave and I zoom by en route to more fresh video recordings. If you cannot attend… well, at least we will be at all these events capturing new interviews and Video Pilot Reports (VPRs).
DeLand proclaimed another success for 2018. As one of the “troops in the trench,” I can attest to a satisfactory event, as I chronicled in Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 articles. Of particular note, DeLand can boast nine of nine days of wonderful weather. OK, fine, it rained one evening and winds blew somewhat furiously for a short while, but the precipitation came after show hours and no aircraft were damaged (although a couple tents took a nose dive). I’ve opined how the thick crowds of the giant shows are not necessary and may not even be desirable. At smaller events, customers get more face time — and air time, through many demo flights launched. Exhibiting vendors got actual orders, made deliveries, and connected with pilots who may act later. When both customers and suppliers are happy, I’d call that a success.
Handiflight to Depart SoonAnother way this storied company shows its global approach to business is by sponsoring a worthy effort called Handiflight. Flight Design said this "is a daring adventure by physically challenged pilots to fly around the world starting very soon, on November 18, 2018. Company CEO Lars Joerges announced that the German manufacturer is a contributing sponsor to the undertaking. The flight will be conducted using a CTLS aircraft. According to Flight Design, the globe-girdling flight will start from Geneva, Switzerland and will plan to visit 40 countries in five continents while traveling more than 49,000 miles. The flight plans to make “150 stops to meet, share, inspire and promote the inclusion of disabled people worldwide,” organizers said. The goal is to raise funds for Handicap International and is further sponsored by the Lions Clubs International, a fraternal organization that raises money for worthy causes. Handiflight is a non-profit association formed in Gruyère, Switzerland in 2007. The organization hosts what they call the biggest fly-in for disabled pilots from all around the world. After 10 years of successful events, Handiflight is now tackling a new goal: “To fly around the world to explore new horizons, look for new challenges, combat prejudices and promote the inclusion of disabled people.” “We met with Daniel Ramsier, one of the organizers of the Handiflight,” said Joerges. "We were very inspired by his vision and wanted to be part of this adventure.” Primary pilots Paolo Pocobelli, Guillaume Féral and Mike Lomberg will lead an international team of more than 15 pilots with physical disabilities. Upon the completion of this flight it will mark the third flight around the world for a CT-series aircraft. The first time occurred in 2007 by two pilots from India to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Indian Air Force. The second round-the-world flight was Azimuth 270, a flight by Yannick Bovier and Francisco Agullo, two Swiss Airbus pilots who flew a westward flight around the equator of the Earth in 2010. Soon will begin this great and inspiring flight by Handiflight! * LAMA is beginning an advocacy effort to encourage Canada to accept Light-Sport Aircraft but for now LSA producers must offer aircraft that meet the 1,232-pound limit of Advanced Ultra Light in Canada. The nation used the number first proposed by FAA but the U.S. agency later went to 1,320 pounds (land planes; seaplanes are 1,430 pounds)
At the season ending DeLand Showcase show, Flight Design was ably represented by John Hurst. We interviewed this longtime LSA veteran; watch for that as editing is completed. What we did not get was an update from the company, as we did with several other vendors (see earlier reports). Flight Design USA president Tom Peghiny since reported that his import enterprise enjoyed a reasonably good year in 2018 with a few weeks remaining. Indeed, he communicated while flying a new CTLS up to Canada for delivery under their Advanced Ultralight program*. New unit volume is lower than the early gold-rush days of Light-Sport Aircraft (2005-2007) — the same as for other companies — but new sales are returning for Flight Design; in addition, their service, factory parts. and used business bolsters the longtime U.S. operation. Longtime market leader Flight Design took something of a breather in 2016 and 2017 as the German company reorganized under new leadership (article).