Day One of the third running of DeLand Showcase is complete. As Videoman Dave and I scoured the show grounds looking for good stories, we spoke to a few vendors reporting that 2018 has been a good year. Our video news gathering exercise brought a pleasant discovery. Many companies are reporting a solid year of sales. The light aviation industry is composed of many small companies. None are corporations the size of Cessna or Cirrus so they don’t require hundreds of unit sales to break even. A U.S. importer delivering 20 aircraft can experience a good year from sales and other services they offer. When several companies report noteworthy sales success it suggests the market is healthy and customers are buying airplanes they want to enjoy. In parallel, the used LSA market also appears active and a virtuous circle begins to take form. The show itself enjoyed the great organization we have come to expect from director Jana Filip.
Van's Aircraft, Inc.
Phone: (503) 678-6545Aurora, OR 97002 - USA
What is happening and why?RV-12 SLSA airplanes will now be built and delivered by Van’s Aircraft at its Aurora, Oregon facility. Several years ago, Van’s set out to implement a comprehensive SLSA program. Synergy and Van’s partnered to build the various components of the complete SLSA program. Synergy worked with Van’s from the onset of the program to apply their expertise related to the marketing and aircraft assembly portions of the program. The natural evolution and success of both businesses has brought us to where we are today. Synergy has become even more focused on the business of assisting Van’s Aircraft’s customers in building their RV airplanes. As the SLSA program has matured, Van’s has expanded its workforce and capabilities to include marketing and aircraft construction. This change represents the next logical step in both companies’ successful business growth.
How does this affect Synergy?Synergy will focus on its popular builder-assist program, which has become that company’s key area of business emphasis and expansion over the past couple years.
What about earlier SLSA purchases? Who will provide support?All SLSA aircraft have been and will continue to be fully supported by Van’s Aircraft. That will not change. Van’s technical and business support teams remain ready to support every customer that owns and flies our airplanes. The Van’s support team serves as your point of contact for any support needs you may have related to the RV-12.
Will the price change? How do I communicate with Van's?Van's does not anticipate or plan to make any price changes as a result of this business change. Just as before, you can contact Van’s Aircraft at 503-678-6545 or you can email the SLSA support team.
What should I expect?You can and should expect excellent quality from a business that continuously strives to improve its products and services. Van's approach is to delivering the highest quality products. Our aircraft assembly and delivery department — a dedicated team focused on just that portion of our business — is staffed by experts with years of RV-12 building experience. Van's will, as always, strive to adopt and leverage new, innovative processes and technology to drive its ongoing quality program.
I have an airplane ordered already. How will this affect delivery?As part of this change, Van's is staffing a dedicated SLSA build team that is co-located at our Oregon factory, the design of which will allow us to increase throughput and enable even quicker delivery of RV-12iS SLSA aircraft. Van's will leverage its existing people, experience and processes to optimize our future ability to deliver more efficiently, as well. We do not anticipate schedule delays as a result of the change in production staffing and location. Any RV-12iS currently in production with Synergy will be finished at Synergy’s Eugene facility. Any aircraft not yet started will be completed at and by Van's Aircraft. Van's anticipates delivering aircraft that are already on the schedule on or before the estimated delivery dates we’ve previously communicated to individual customers.
Was there a problem between the businesses?No, not at all. This change is the result of mutual successes, and represents a natural and positive evolution of both businesses. It will enable both companies to deliver even more, both in partnership and separately.
What about builders assist at Synergy?Just as it makes sense for Van's to take on SLSA assembly work at this time, it also makes sense for Synergy to focus on its growing and key business: builder-assist services for people who are building their RVs. In fact, Synergy is growing and recently expanded beyond its Eugene, Oregon facility when it opened a second builder-assist center in Georgia. The company concluded, "These changes are great for Van's Aircraft, great for Synergy Air, and good news for our mutual customers."
Building kits for homebuilders and assembling fully built aircraft are two very distinct business models. In the early days of Light-Sport Aircraft, European producers enjoyed a head start in fully-built aircraft as their regulations were more accommodating. American producers were the kings of kits, an effort that calls for good assembly instructions and technical support plus groups that can help each other. These two activities represent night and day differences. However, in the years since the regulation arrived, American companies have significantly caught up. Indeed, as September and the 14th anniversary of the SP/LSA rule arrived, Van’s released news of a major change. “Van’s Aircraft is excited to announce that it is establishing its own aircraft assembly facility and team at its company headquarters in Aurora, Oregon,” the world’s largest kit producer said. “Future RV-12iS and RV-12-iST SLSA aircraft models will be assembled and delivered at this new facility.” As many readers know, nearby Synergy Air was Van’s assembly partner for several years.
Van's Aircraft's Immensely Popular RV-SeriesAccording to a recent report in General Aviation News, "[When] David Porter took his first flight in his RV-7 on Nov. 24, 2017, he probably didn’t know he was making history. The Martinsburg, West Virginia pilot’s kit-built airplane became the official 10,000th Van’s RV-series aircraft." Van's labeled David's first flight as "official" because more than 10,000 RV-series kit aircraft are definitely known to be flying, but the company recognizes it may not know about all of them. President of his local EAA Chapter (# 1071), David spent three and a half years building his RV-7 from a standard kit. It was the first airplane he has built. His airplane was RV-7 #1,662 to fly, according to the Oregon company. Dick van Grunsven's Van’s Aircraft began selling RV-3 plans back in 1973. From this modest start the company now calculates that over the last 44 years a new RV has taken to the air every 1.6 days on average. Now, that is one impressive achievement, I believe. “No one is exactly sure when the 1,000th RV flew — our best guess is around early 1994,” company officials said in a prepared release. “The 2,000 mark was passed in November 1998, 19 years ago. The increase from 9,000 flying RVs to 10,000 took just 33 months or under 1,000 days.” Therefore, "About one new RV airplane leaves the ground each day, with 360 taking to the skies already in 2017." Great job, Team Van's!
Garmin's One Millionth"We’re celebrating the delivery of our one-millionth certified avionics product from our manufacturing facility in Olathe, Kansas," announced the popular avionics producer. This large number does not include the huge number of sports or auto products and more made by Garmin over its three decade history. The milestone product was a GTX 3000 DI-260B compliant Mode S Extended Squitter (ES) transponder, which enables ADS-B Out transmissions, a timely offering given the last two years of push to fit GA aircraft with ADS-B Out before the 2020 FAA deadline. “Since our inception over 28 years ago, Garmin has been committed to providing superior products that are known for their innovation, reliability and intuitive design,” said Phil Straub, Garmin executive vice president, managing director of aviation. “This milestone is a testament to our long-established commitment to making significant investments in research and development, as well as the hard work and dedication of thousands of passionate Garmin team members that I have the pleasure of working with every day.” “As we celebrate this exciting accomplishment, I am very proud of how our teams have managed such significant growth, while maintaining the culture of our company as our founders set forth,” said Carl Wolf, vice president of aviation marketing and sales. “The breadth and depth of our certified aviation product line has expanded greatly over the years, allowing us to develop new markets for Garmin. This incredible milestone doesn’t even include the hundreds of thousands of portable and other non-certified products that our customers use every day. On behalf of Garmin, I wish to express my utmost gratitude to our loyal customers, our dealers and the aircraft manufacturers all around the globe, who have helped us to accomplish such a tremendous achievement in Garmin’s history.” Established by co-founders Gary Burrell and Dr. Min Kao — Gar' and Min, hence the company name — in 1989 in Lenexa, Kansas, Garmin was founded with its core roots in aviation. Today, the central U.S. corporation has evolved into five business segments with more than 11,000 employees around the globe. "From a single product," said Garmin, "the evolution of our avionics solutions has grown to serve multiple segments within the aviation industry, including general aviation, business aviation, helicopter, experimental amateur-built (EAB), defense and air transport." I'm sure Garmin meant to include LSA in that roster but many recent product releases by the company show it is pursuing the high end avionics market aggressively. In the LSA space the G3X Touch and Garmin 796 are the most popular devices with many supporting items benefitting the Garmin ecosystem of avionics. Congratulations to both Van's Aircraft and Garmin. We are lucky both company are involved in the kind aviation enjoyed by sport and recreational pilots. To close, I thought I'd again reference my friends from General Aviation News to show you their recently-offered map of where their readers are located. I submit to this Washington-state-based publication every month and know they provide a journal read enthusiastically by tens of thousands of pilots. As proof of their success at transitioning from only newsprint to electronic communication, GA News can boast the largest Facebook following (around 350,000!) of any aviation publication or organization. Great job publisher Ben Sclair and team mates! Subscribe to GA News and you can also receive their free The Pulse of Aviation e-newsletter.
Recently, a couple major benchmarks were reached by some of our important brand names. These notable achievements deserve mention given their relationship to the LSA and light aircraft sector that this website serves. One is an airframe builder and the other is a avionics giant. Van’s Aircraft’s Immensely Popular RV-Series According to a recent report in General Aviation News, “[When] David Porter took his first flight in his RV-7 on Nov. 24, 2017, he probably didn’t know he was making history. The Martinsburg, West Virginia pilot’s kit-built airplane became the official 10,000th Van’s RV-series aircraft.” Van’s labeled David’s first flight as “official” because more than 10,000 RV-series kit aircraft are definitely known to be flying, but the company recognizes it may not know about all of them. President of his local EAA Chapter (# 1071), David spent three and a half years building his RV-7 from a standard kit.
Video Pilot Reports are some of the most popular of our hundreds of videos. They take more work and they have longer running time; this one on Van's Aircraft's very poplar RV-12 is presented in two parts. When you count RV-12 in both kit and SLSA fully manufactured versions, it is one of America's most popular LSA even though it entered the scene a later than some. In this pilot report, we'll try to tell you and show you why RV-12 is such a hit.
Video Pilot Reports are some of the most popular of our hundreds of videos. They take more work and they have longer running time; this one on Van’s Aircraft’s very poplar RV-12 is presented in two parts. When you count RV-12 in both kit and SLSA fully manufactured versions, it is one of America’s most popular LSA even though it entered the scene a later than some. In this pilot report, we’ll try to tell you and show you why RV-12 is such a hit.
Here's Part 2 of our Video Pilot Report on Van's Aircraft's very poplar RV-12 is presented in two parts. In this second part, Dan Johnson recounts his experience flying Van's RV-12 filling in some details not presented during the in-flight portion of the evaluation. Although doing these VPRs is much more time consuming and take longer to watch, we hope you enjoy all the information they deliver.
Here’s Part 2 of our Video Pilot Report on Van’s Aircraft’s very poplar RV-12 is presented in two parts. In this second part, Dan Johnson recounts his experience flying Van’s RV-12 filling in some details not presented during the in-flight portion of the evaluation. Although doing these VPRs is much more time consuming and take longer to watch, we hope you enjoy all the information they deliver.
Van's Aircraft needs no introduction to most aviators. The company has more than 8,000 aircraft flying. One of these is their RV-12 LSA models. Mostly that design, like all their models, has been built as a kit. Van's wasn't sure they'd make ready-to-fly models when they started. However, through a nearby company, Van's made arrangements to offer the RV-12 as a factory-built Special LSA. Here company rep' Gus Funnel updates us on the latest information about this popular airplane.
Van’s Aircraft needs no introduction to most aviators. The company has more than 8,000 aircraft flying. One of these is their RV-12 LSA models. Mostly that design, like all their models, has been built as a kit. Van’s wasn’t sure they’d make ready-to-fly models when they started. However, through a nearby company, Van’s made arrangements to offer the RV-12 as a factory-built Special LSA. Here company rep’ Gus Funnel updates us on the latest information about this popular airplane.
MIDWEST LSA EXPO 2012 -- One of our series of many short videos from the fall show, this one on the Van's Aircraft RV-12. Most LSA are factory built SLSA but here is the clear-and-away winner of te Experimental LSA race of kit-assembled Light-Sports. More than 350 of the RV-12 kits have reportedly been sold and many are flying. Here we take a quick look at the RV-12 and place it in the family of RV models that have proven so popular.
MIDWEST LSA EXPO 2012 — One of our series of many short videos from the fall show, this one on the Van’s Aircraft RV-12. Most LSA are factory built SLSA but here is the clear-and-away winner of te Experimental LSA race of kit-assembled Light-Sports. More than 350 of the RV-12 kits have reportedly been sold and many are flying. Here we take a quick look at the RV-12 and place it in the family of RV models that have proven so popular.
The biggest kit-aircraft builder of them all - Van's Aircraft and their incredibly line of RV airplanes - entered the Light-Sport Aircraft arena with their RV-12. Here we take a look at the kit and its costs while designer Dick VanGrunsven sits on the wing nearby talking to customers. No surprise to anyone, Van's is the biggest success story in Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft or ELSA.
The biggest kit-aircraft builder of them all – Van’s Aircraft and their incredibly line of RV airplanes – entered the Light-Sport Aircraft arena with their RV-12. Here we take a look at the kit and its costs while designer Dick VanGrunsven sits on the wing nearby talking to customers. No surprise to anyone, Van’s is the biggest success story in Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft or ELSA.
At the 2010 Midwest LSA Expo we did something new. We picked several aircraft of a similar description and pointed out their similarities and differences. This time we look at four all-metal high wing LSA: Rans Aircraft S-19 Venterra; Evektor Sportstar Max IFR, Van's Aircraft RV-12, and the Breezer Aircraft Breezer II. If you're searching for a high wing LSA, this video may help show your choices and help you make a purchase decision.
At the 2010 Midwest LSA Expo we did something new. We picked several aircraft of a similar description and pointed out their similarities and differences. This time we look at four all-metal high wing LSA: Rans Aircraft S-19 Venterra; Evektor Sportstar Max IFR, Van’s Aircraft RV-12, and the Breezer Aircraft Breezer II. If you’re searching for a high wing LSA, this video may help show your choices and help you make a purchase decision.
I’ve enjoyed a front row seat for all eleven years that Light-Sport Aircraft have been part of the aviation firmament. In those years of closely following this industry, I’ve only seen companies reach the four digit horizon three times. What does that mean and why might you find it meaningful? First came Cessna’s Skycatcher. More recently it was (quite convincingly) Icon’s A5. Now, welcome Van’s Aircraft. Cessna once claimed more than 1,000 orders for their now-discontinued Skycatcher LSA. The company delivered 271 of them (according to our review of FAA’s N-number database) but we won’t see any more. Icon reports more than 1,300 orders, making them Top Gun in the LSA roost, though they have delivered only one, to EAA’s Young Eagles program. Then, we have Van’s … the undisputed leader of kit aircraft deliveries. In fact, the latter is nearly ready to enter the aviation stratosphere of five digits.
The “Big Show” is just days away, so of course, journalists and readers are asking what will be present? The question is worthwhile, but often the most interesting discoveries are not foretold either to maintain secrecy or due to the last minute scramble to make a new project showable. Here are four products attendees may want to investigate. Watch for more previews. “What a journey so far, wrote Jordan Denitz, spokesman for The Airplane Factory USA! Globetrotters Mike Blyth with Patrick Huang of The Airplane Factory Asia have completed their first three legs on their way around the world in a Sling powered by the Rotax 912iS. Starting in Johannesburg, South Africa, they traveled to Namibia, Ghana, and Cape Verde. On Monday they were taking a well deserved rest after 37 hours and more than 4,000 nautical miles logged so far. “They are gearing up for the biggest hop yet, crossing the Atlantic,” added Jordan.
As spring approaches and with major airshows like Aero Friedrichshafen in Germany and Sun ‘n Fun in Florida about to trigger a new season of recreational flying, it is time for an annual update of Light-Sport Aircraft market shares. Our well-known “fleet” chart appears nearby; this table refers to all Special LSA registered with FAA in the United States since the first aircraft was accepted by FAA almost ten years ago (on April 5, 2005). We again post our Calendar 2014 tally that shows the success only in that year as a means of drawing attention to those brands and models performing the best in the last twelve months. We remind you that these charts use as their source the FAA registration (N-number) database, that is then carefully studied and corrected to make the most reliable report possible. However, two points: (1) this report will still have some errors as the database on which we rely has some faulty information … though we believe this to be modest and, as noted, we correct it where we can; and, (2) aircraft registrations are not likely to be perfectly in sync with company records of sales for a variety of reasons.
Sebring is history, which says the aviation year is now underway. On whole it was a good show and a solid start to 2015. Sebring’s weather was overcast and cool to start though even that didn’t seem to dampen buying enthusiasm. About a dozen airplanes were sold plus numerous vendors reported finding many good prospects. By Friday afternoon the skies went to deep blue and the Sunshine State earned its nickname. “It was a great Saturday,” wrote U.S. Sport Aviation Expo organizers. The 11th annual Expo nearly filled the auto parking lot and the transient aircraft parking area was hopping with activity, officials said. While I write about the good news of Sebring, I want to pay respect to two fallen aviators. Dennis Day and Jason Spinks of the Aero Adventures company lost their lives in an unfortunate accident during the event. I offer my sincerest regret for this loss to their families and to the DeLand Airport business team.
Van’s Aircraft has been creating highly successful designs for decades; more than 8,750 RV kits have been completed and are flying. Over 20,000 kits have been sold, cementing this Oregon company as the most successful kit aircraft company in history. In the last couple years, Van’s has enlisted Synergy Air to fully build and deliver their RV-12 Light-Sport Entry. Before the ready-to-fly project began Van’s had delivered more than 250 kit versions; the fleet of both kit and factory built RV-12s keeps growing. When that happens, many buyers — especially those who elected to purchase a factory-built ’12 — need quality places to obtain services for their airplane. Recently a Texas aviation powerhouse, US Aviation and their US Sport Planes division, was approved as a Factory Authorized service center for the RV-12. Company executive Scott Severen, a longtime recreational aircraft enthusiast and businessman, has been very successful at securing similar approvals from many of the top LSA manufacturers.
Two key members of AKIA stopped by the LSA Mall at the new & improved Paradise City last week. AKIA? The Aircraft Kit Industry Association is a new group formed in July last year seeking cooperation between kit aircraft builders. Leaders include Van’s Aircraft and Sonex. Both have been making Light-Sport models, or what more correctly might be called “Sport Pilot eligible” or “Light-Sport-compliant aircraft.” Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) aircraft are technically not LSA even if they meet all parameters. Sonex and Van’s are upstanding producers of very popular aircraft and they have their eyes clearly on the light aircraft sector that is showing great resilience in a perpetually sluggish economy. Each company has too much info to fully cover here but a birds-eye view may encourage you to seek more. Sonex Aircraft is based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, right across the field from EAA’s headquarters. The company is so active on so many fronts that I will only provide a general view.
Garmin has a new smaller version of their very impressive G3X Touch. I examined this at Sun ‘n Fun when it was debuted in the 10-inch screen and came away highly impressed after two reviews on videos. For a billion-dollar company Garmin remains passionately inventive and surprisingly nimble. They keep the heat on now introducing a 7-inch G3X Touch display, described as “a high-resolution infrared touchscreen display designed for experimental amateur-built and Light-Sport Aircraft to compliments their existing 10.6-inch G3X Touch system.” Pilots and homebuilders concerned about instrument panel height and width constraints should be pleased to have the 7-inch option. All G3X Touch displays support Connext that allows wireless flight plan transfer between the company’s Garmin Pilot app on an iOS or select Android mobile device. “A well-equipped 7-inch G3X Touch system, which includes SVX, video input, a built-in WAAS GPS receiver, ADAHRS, magnetometer, OAT probe, interactive mapping and more, starts at $4,599,” said Garmin officials.
Forty years and more than 8,000 airplanes flying easily makes Van’s Aircraft the most prolific kit aircraft supplier in the history of aviation. Does anyone in flying not know about the RV-series? What everyone may not know (or remember) is that Van’s entered into a deal with Synergy Air to fully build an initial run of a dozen ready-to-fly RV-12s as they enter into the new and quite different realm of manufactured aircraft under the Light-Sport Aircraft rule. “We’re kind of taking it gradually into this new arena,” admitted company founder, Dick VanGrunsven as reported by our friends over at AVweb. Synergy Air is a well-established company providing instructional seminars, videos, and builder assistance to complete kit airplanes and is located at the Eugene, Oregon airport. Van’s noted that, “A total of twelve Signature Series airplanes have been completed or are under construction. All have been sold and are expected to be delivered to their new owners before the end of the year.” On May 31st 2013 the first fly-away RV-12 went to customer George Longino.
Put on them bibs, pardners, if you’ve got an appetite for one of the tastiest SLSA out there. Last year, Van’s Aircraft came out with its Signature Series, an even dozen fully built SLSA. They were assembled by Van’s kit builder support company Synergy Air of Eugene, Oregon. Now I’m not trying to set you up for a fall, but even though the company did just announce another 12 RV-12 batch, priced at $123,000 each (loaded), the odds are reasonable that by the time you read this, they’ll be gone too. My apologies for bringing good, then potentially bad news. My pessimism derives from the last batch. See, they were snapped up so quick that the next 50 or so eager customers on the list — with checks in hand — were turned away. By the way, that $123,000 sticker includes ADS-B, two-axis autopilot, wheel pants, and premium paint schemes with pinstripe.
It was cool but abundant sunshine provided good conditions for an excellent event at the tenth Sebring. Morning winds died down and allowed plenty of demo flying opportunities and even for those who didn’t go aloft, the Manufacturer’s Showcase allowed visitors to see numerous aircraft doing low fly-bys. The combination of readily available demo flights that could be conducted with a minimum of hassle thanks to great support from contract tower personnel and the display of most LSA or light kits in recreational aviation offered ample opportunity for buyers to step up … and sales action appeared quite strong, a sure sign of improving conditions after years of sluggishness. Many exhibitors reported multiple sales, proven by deposits changing hands and orders being written. Ken Scott of Van’s Aircraft — which works closely with Synergy Air, builder of the ready-to-fly RV-12 SLSA — said it was the best show ever for his company.
We’ve seen “legacy” general aviation builders depart the Light-Sport Aircraft scene. The reasons are varied but certainly this is highly competitive space with frequent innovations applied and clean-sheet designs emerging like clockwork (more than one per month for ten straight years!). Once a company becomes accustomed to the profits turbines and jets can generate, small piston aircraft looks like a lean market. However, as one major name exits another arrives. A year and a half ago at AOPA’s last Palm Springs, California Summit, Van’s Aircraft announced their entry to Special LSA through an arrangement with Synergy Air. It was something of a toe in the water for the large kit builder. To no one’s surprise, they sold out immediately. After spinning up operations to build and deliver the first batch, Van’s and Synergy evaluated and chose to continue onward with building ready-to-fly airplanes. Dick VanGrunsven, founder of Van’s Aircraft, Inc., and Wally Anderson, head of Synergy Air, recently announced that production of the RV-12 SLSA will continue in 2014.