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
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 Numbers
Big 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).
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. 😁