Sales are subdued all over aviation but it isn’t stopping the top performers in the Light-Sport Aircraft marketplace. As our last market share update illustrated, Remos, Tecnam, SportCruiser, and Jabiru have all done reasonably (or very) well in the last 18 months. Always among those contenders is longtime market share leader, Flight Design. *** Just a couple days ago (photo), eastern distributor Flight Design Mid-Atlantic delivered CT#300 to owner Kenneth D. Griffin of Southampton, New Jersey complete with his personalized tail number (N74KG)… interestingly, CT#200 also got a call sign identifying its owner. *** In the Something-for-Nothing Department: Flight Design will be giving away the first MC at AirVenture when EAA completes its 2009 Sweepstakes and awards some lucky person a brand-new design as well as a brand-new airplane. Big flight school and mail order house, Sporty’s, is giving away a 2010 Cessna Skycatcher.
Airtime Aviation, Inc. (Fly CT)
Phone: 918-625-5442Tulsa, OK 74132 - USA
These days, “oversight” is a heavily used word on national media. But far from the strangeness of government bailouts is the world of Light-Sport Aircraft. For the new aviation sector, industry oversight is seen as critical by LAMA and many aviation leaders. *** A conversation with LAMA founder* Larry Burke shows the LSA industry organization is moving steadily toward its oversight goals. Insurance companies and others hope LAMA will audit companies supplying 80% of purchased LSA. Once that “critical mass” is reached, insurers feel they can advise customers do as LAMA encourages…”Look for the LAMA Label.” *** A LAMA audit verifies that a company which declares compliance to ASTM standards actually possesses the documentation to prove their declaration. After successfully passing a LAMA audit, a company can place LAMA Labels on their LSA so that potential customers are aware the company has satisfactorily completed a voluntary third party audit.
Lots more fun than a military build-up but bearing some resemblance, companies across the USA are preparing for Sun ‘n Fun starting Tuesday the 4th. I was on the grounds today and it already looks busy. I also traveled to Lockwood Aviation at the Sebring, Florida airport. A busy crew was assembling airplanes from Flight Design and Tecnam in preparation for the show in nearby Lakeland. Other companies set up at South Lakeland Airpark — the relaxed strip a mere three air miles from Sun ‘n Fun (where I do the majority of my flight evaluations). Today, I got a chance to compare a late-model 2005 CTsw with the 2006 model; look for the full report in EAA Sport Pilot for June 2006. Tomorrow, the folks at Sport Aircraft Works are hosting me to fly the Parrot, Sport Cruiser, and Mermaid from Czech Aircraft Works.
OSHKOSH UPDATE — At a ceremony on EAA AirVenture’s show-center location, AeroShell Square, Flight Design unveiled another new LSA, their second of 2008, the first being the CTLS which debuted at Sebring in January. Amid opening day excitement, numerous media representatives captured photos and video. A large crowd surrounded the MC when Flight Design CEO Matthias Betsch and U.S. importer Tom Peghiny took the stage. After a few words of introduction and on cue from Betsch, Flight Design representatives removed a parachute canopy used to hide the MC from view. *** The MC — for Metal Concept — is similar in appearance to the CTLS but is constructed mainly of aluminum skin over a welded steel structure that provides great durability and occupant protection. Flight Design expects the MC will have strong appeal to flight schools. Cockpit entry is even easier thanks to a lower threshold and a door that reaches well forward.
I can identify four factors in the economy presently affecting airplane sales: Potential customers (often with plenty of assets or creditworthiness) see the value of their stock portfolio going up and down like a roller coaster; worry over their once-soaring real estate, now down markedly in some areas; witness the continuing rise of the euro-dollar exchange rate, bringing much higher prices for many LSA; and, fret over a climate of political uncertainty during another election cycle. *** Perhaps due to these factors GA single engine piston sales are off 28% compared to the same period last year, according to GAMA. LSA sales are off 30% compared to trends six months to a year ago. *** Jet and turbine aircraft sales are up, but 2008 deliveries of those aircraft stem from orders taken 2-3 years ago. Contrarily, personal and sport aircraft sales react quickly to the slightest perception of economic shakiness. *** Despite that we have some bright spots.
Flight Design leads the LSA flock maintaining a market share of more than 20% since the start of SLSA certifications almost three years ago. Their first American export was CT2K, fine tuned in 2006 for U.S. pilots as the CTSW. Now sport pilots around the world can welcome the CTLS, the third generation of this successful design. *** Longer and sleeker, LS was lengthened 14 inches and has a list of new features. Although you can add a few options (leather seats and autopilot, for example) the base model has everything a Sport Pilot could want including Garmin radio, transponder, and GPS with XM, dual Dynon glass displays, and BRS parachute…all standard. *** The company says every mold on the all-carbon fiber aircraft was changed. You can see this in its larger cabin with aft windows, the wingtip treatment, and in a more “adult” look to the design.
Market leader Flight Design seems hot as a pistol and appears to be validating their plan to substantially increase production. South Central U.S. distributor Airtime Aviation delivered N200BL to Brian Longwill, their new dealer operating under the name Longwill AirCraft. And talk about beautiful timing, this also happened to be CT delivery number 50 for Airtime. Putting even a finer point on their accomplishments, Airtime got the first CT approved in the U.S., missing by mere hours being the first SLSA* in the country. *** Longwill AirCraft will base their new CT at a new airport opening in Estancia, New Mexico…east of Albuquerque and south of Moriarty. Longwill aims to attract sport aircraft of all kinds to the facility. *** Finally — call me lucky or call it a truly fine bit of advance planning, but this is also SPLOG #200. From the mail and calls I get, you love SPLOG and I’m pleased you do.
Many other airplane categories have tried round the world flights, but it’s now been done by a Light-Sport Aircraft. Flying a Flight Design CT, Indian Air Force Wing Commanders Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar will claim a new record by successfully flying around the world in 79 days. Part of a celebration of the Indian Air Force 75th Anniversary, the two pilots covered a total distance of 40,497 kilometers (25,310 miles) in 79 days flying over 19 countries (Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Russia, USA, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, UK, Germany, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and India).*** During the expedition, Commander Monga became part of very small group of pilots by soloing across the Atlantic in a single engine aircraft. Kumar had to go via airline so the CT could fly longer. Despite missing this exciting segment Kumar expressed appreciation for the CT: “It’s a fantastic machine, very reliable…it got us home and there were no problems.
The Czech Republic featured in the last few SPLOGs may not be well known to Americans, but Ukraine seems yet another world away. Indeed, our jetliner flew almost two hours further east to Odessa and then we took a three-hour car ride to Kherson, home to the primary production facility for German-owned Flight Design. *** The experience of touring their facility was dramatically different than CZAW or Evektor as Flight Designs works almost exclusively with carbon fiber. Now in its second decade of production CT is America’s best-selling LSA and its factory has grown accordingly. More than 500 Ukrainian employees — engineers, designers, managers, technicians, and factory employees — toil in a sprawling facility not far from the Black Sea. Senior management is German but the entire facility is run by local talent. Interestingly, staff meetings are held in English.
Sun ‘n Fun 2005 started off with a bang when Flightstar Sportplanes’ Tom Peghiny heard the Flight Design CT he imports was one of the first Special Light-Sport Aircraft to be given its airworthiness certificate. (S-LSAs are fully built and can be used for training or rental.) CT regional dealer Tom Gutmann of Airtime Aviation, Inc., was the recipient of a process Peghiny graciously called “the effort of many people.” Watch for full coverage of this benchmark achievement in aviation magazines.
I hope you enjoyed your Labor Day holiday. Over this long weekend Randee and I headed to Boston for the EAA Sport Pilot Tour on Sept. 9th. At that event, visitors can complete a survey. Not only is it a chance to tell the leading seller of LSA what type of aircraft you want, but you can win some handsome prizes. Winners will be randomly chosen from those who participate in the survey. Your odds are very good to win First Prize which is a Garmin 396 worth $2,395. Second prize is a King Schools Sport Pilot Training Course and third prize is a Composiclean composite aircraft cleaning supply set. Taking the survey costs you nothing and you don’t have to go to Boston. Just click here and complete 9 multiple choice questions. (You can also add a comment.) *** But, you must act soon.