Accompanying this article is our customary chart showing market share of the entire fleet of LSA. I’ve received a few comments over recent months that we should emphasize current-period results. Market share for many products, computers, for example, are given as total market share (“Windows has 90% of the market.”). *** In truth, I have reported current-period results in the article text for the last few updates. We’ve collected all market reports to make reviewing them easier. Here’s a look-back with emphasis on results only for 2010. *** With 83% of the year (10 months) accounted for, Piper‘s legacy brand is convincingly leading the market. At 43 airplanes registered in 2010 (24% of all registrations), the Vero Beach, Florida company is rising rapidly. Note as always that these figures do not match actual sales activity at companies. *** Following Piper, CubCrafters is enjoying a strong year, said Jim Richmond at AOPA as his company added 37 LSA registrations (20% of all ’10 LSA).
Arion Aircraft, LLC
Phone: (931) 680-1781Shelbyville, TN 37160 - USA
An all-American speedster that flies as fast as the law allows The first one I saw was gorgeous, even bare of paint accents. That Arion Lightning prototype looked undeniably smooth and, well, fast as lightning. Pilots are inspired by lovely flying machines, and on the factory ramp in Shelbyville, Tenn., was one of the most fetching examples of an LSA I had ever seen. Arion Aircraft’s Lightning LS-1 (www.flylightning.net) isn’t new. Indeed, in three years, the company has sold 80 kits, and 40 already are flying. Now comes a ready-to-fly airplane, an all-American flying machine that’s able to hit the LSA max speed of 120 knots (138 mph). The Lightning’s smokin’ fast speed, however, is just one measurement of its appeal. Wherever it goes, the Lightning gathers admiring glances. That’s no surprise, as it’s an amalgam of the former Esqual from Spain with touches of Van’s RVs, the Aerospool Dynamic, various Lancair models and the also-Spanish Toxo LSA-each as shapely as a fashion model.
I once followed judging at shows like AirVenture and Sun ‘n Fun. In fact, an aircraft I helped inspire — a modernized primary glider called the SuperFloater — won Outstanding New Design at Sun ‘n Fun 1995. Judges closely examined homebuilts, kit or restored vintage airplanes, and warbirds. If they included factory built aircraft, I was not aware of it. *** So, this year I admitted surprise after learning factory-built Light-Sport Aircraft won awards. *** To honor the hundreds or thousands of hours people put into their winners, I want to highlight some LSA and ultralights that judges liked. The Grand Champion LSA was Wayne Spring’s 2010 Predator powered parachute; Reserve Grand Champ was James Jonannes’ 2009 Arion Lightning LS-1; Grand Champion Ultralight was James Wiebe’s 2010 Belite Superlite; and, Reserve Grand Champ was Danny Dezauche’s 2010 CGS Hawk Ultra.
After selling 40 aircraft under the Experimental Amateur Built (EAB) rule, Arion has now completed their SLSA approval just in the nick of time before the season-launching Sun ‘n Fun starts. Welcome to Lightning — SLSA #96 — from Arion Aircraft, which is our 69th company to enter production of Light-Sport Aircraft. *** Lightning got its start back when Jabiru-man Pete Krotje, his son Ben, plus Nick Otterback were dealers for the Spanish Esquale. That lead to the lovely low-wing Lightning though the design borrows from several light aircraft. It may sound like an organic development but the results are definitely worthy. I was highly impressed with a flight in an earlier EAB model, which did not have the speed limitations of LSA. “Extra wing area was added to bring wing loading and stall speeds into compliance with the applicable standards,” said Nick. *** Arion won approval on April 15, 2009.
In September, as the Cessna Skycatcher’s wave of orders soaked up funds that might have gone to other SLSA, Jabiru logged the most FAA registrations — 6 more J-250s, bringing the company to 44 units delivered and placing the model 9th overall among fixed wing airplanes. In second place, CT, CH-601XL, and Skyboy each added three registered units. Though the month was slower than usual for fixed wings, weight-shift added another strong month with 19 registrations (though some are wondering if these trikes are all SLSA or include ELSA conversions; we’re researching this). Combined, trikes and powered parachutes added 25 aircraft to the FAA registry while fixed wings added 27 for a total of 52 new SLSA. *** Jabiru USA has moved steadily up the market share chart. As the only aircraft company I know supplying both airframe and engine, Jabiru USA advanced steadily into the Top Ten of SLSA providers in the USA.
A standard measuring stick for aircraft design is the ratio of minimum speed to maximum speed. Powerful jets like the Blue Angels’ F/A-18 (along with a government credit card to fuel them) can perform in airshows from 120 mph to 700 mph, almost a 6:1 ratio. But for airplanes you and I can afford, a ratio greater than 3:1 is good with 4:1 being the holy grail. In my experience, a 4:1 ratio is rare; a LSA that stalls at 40 knots and tops out at 120 knots represents only 3:1. *** Recently I flew the Arion Aircraft Lightning. Yielding a fine experience with quick yet stable handling, short takeoffs and easy landings plus mild stalls, Lightning also proved a handsome performer. Nick Otterback reports flying Lightning to better than 200 mph and I held around 40 mph in slow flight. Even assuming instrument error at slow speeds, that’s still well beyond the 4:1 ratio.