My LAMA Europe counterpart and friend, Jan Fridrich, took another trip to China in October as he attended Xi’an, said to be the largest General Aviation exhibition in the country. While the show was large with expansive, expensive exhibit stands, airplanes were sparser than events such as Aero Friedrichshafen. Like a few American events (thinking of AOPA’s just concluded Summit and NBAA’s giant show), Xi’an’s convention hall housed indoor displays while the “static” display of more airplanes was at an airport. U.S. organizers usually try to colocate these two displays. In contrast, Jan reported, “The static exhibition was at the airport in Pucheng, which is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Xi’an! Practically speaking, it was only accessible by bus and only during one official day and the journey takes 2.5 hours … Without Chinese friends it is very complicated to get anywhere.” Jan added that viewers at the airport were unable to get within 60 feet of airplanes.
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Our annual review of LSA Market Share brings our updated fleet chart and a second chart showing prior-year registrations. While sales of new SLSA remains below par, the market appears to be experiencing spotty but regular recovery from earlier low points. The first half the year foretold a better recovery but the last half of the year stalled somewhat. Regardless, based on traffic to this website, LSA interest is higher than ever. For January 2013, ByDanJohnson.com set all-time records in Unique Visitors and all other measuring criteria Thank you for your support!
2012 Market Share report — Nearby, we present our standard market share numbers. Our original chart remains consistent, illustrating the “installed base,” or “fleet size.” Because we know many of you seek recent-year information we are repeating the Calendar Year chart that debuted last year.
For the second year in a row Cessna lead in 2012 with an impressive 94 registrations though this is down 30% from 134 in 2011.
I have more to report from Aero 2011 in Europe, but let’s take a quick jaunt back across the Atlantic for an upcoming event of interest to LSA fans… The 14th Virginia Regional Festival of Flight runs April 30 and May 1, 2011 and it offers special opportunities for the Light-Sport crowd. *** Public Relations Chairman Dee Whittington, noted, “As usual we’ll have a dedicated [light aircraft] runway and parking area. Also, most of our manufacturers who will attend are from the Light-Sport community.” He continues with a bit of very important info both to vendors and those pilots wanting to carefully check out a LSA with a demonstration flight, “A good feature of our full-featured fly-in is the ability of vendors to do demo flights during the day instead of waiting until after 5:00 PM when the event shuts down.” Major airshows like AirVenture and Sun ‘n Fun have windows for free flying that restricts the number of demo flights aircraft sellers can provide (although Sun ‘n Fun offers Paradise City as an on-site alternative which can insure more such purchase evaluation flights).
I just finished a column that’s becoming an annual event: talking with Avemco Insurance‘s VP Mike Adams, who filled me in on the general picture for LSA accidents, claims and what it says about pilot’s flying habits and the market strength as well after two brutal years trying to grow a fledgling industry.That column will be out in the mag this spring. The short tell is: rates haven’t gone up…and they haven’t gone down. We’re in a general market stagnation where new pilots are replacing those who are dropping out. *** Pilot accidents are less frequent, especially experienced GA pilots, because Avemco’s 5-hour minimum transition requirement before they’ll write a policy for a new LSA owner is helping pilots get the touch they need to fly these aircraft well. *** LSA are generally lighter in weight than the birds they’ve flown all their lives, and the initial experienced-pilot mindset tended to regard them as toys instead of a new type of aircraft that deserves respect.
Every now and then the marketing geniuses in Light-Sport aviation have an exceptionally good idea. Here’s one of them. Initially organized by SportairUSA’s Bill Canino and now-American Legend marketer Dave Graham (formerly of Gobosh), a flock of planes including five of the most popular brand names will set off for Sebring-After-Sebring… or what they are calling The 2011 Florida LSA Tour. *** “We’re in Florida already and we have to fly home through the state after Sebring ends,” explained Canino. “Since everyone can’t come to Sebring, we thought we’d take the show to them.” *** Bill and Dave established a strategically-planned series of stops, contacted EAA chapters at several locations and asked them for an invitation, and offered them a cash incentive to assist with pulling out the members for the date of arrival. I hope this works well as it’s a grand idea in the LSA tradition of open and friendly competition.
I’d call this Day 4 but rush-deadline work for the mag intervened after the last day at Sebring so just getting to it now. *** The Sebring experience gets better every year, I believe precisely because Bob Woods keeps it consistently valuable without tricking it up with a lot of extraneous booths selling things like Miracle Kitchen Knife or iPhone WonderMuffin Pocket Baker and the like: it’s an LSAshow, pure and simple, and a great opportunity for folks to crawl out from wherever winter is tap-dancing on their heads and let them see, compare, fly and even buy aircraft and peripheral stuff.Many airframe makers reported sales at the show, or expected deals to close afterward. Exhibitors hope for sales of course, but realize folks often need to go home, reflect on what they’ve seen, then push the button or think more on it. *** I’d say from everybody I talked to, optimism was rekindled that 2011 will be better than the last — a real toughie.
Knocking around the ‘Net looking for signs that Light Sport is alive and well… *** Michael Combs is nearing the end of his 19,000 mile odyssey — what a vision. Latest word from PR dude Dave Gustafson is that the Flight for the Human Spirit in a Remos GX has made it to my old west coast stompin’ grounds. Five jewels of the left coast — San Diego, Burbank, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and San Jose — were on the itinerary for one magical flight day over one of the most beautiful stretches of coastal landscape in the world. God speed Michael, 18,000 miles and 45 states and you’re nearly done. • Imagine the human experience he’s having, flying all summer, meeting all the great people he’s met. I’m jealous, I admit it. • BTW, pilots are encouraged to fly along for any portion of Michael’s Flight.
More than 20 Top LSA You Can Buy
The light-sport aircraft industry hangs in there, although sales numbers, as with general aviation, still struggle to gain safe altitude in the stormy economic skies. Encouraging item: LSA sales in 2009 represented nearly 25% of all GA piston purchases. Another surprise: Most of the 107 models available for sale here and abroad are still in production with more new models in the pipeline! Nobody’s getting rich (this is aviation, remember?), but most makers believe the turnaround will come. That’s the spirit!
And with the Euro taking heat against the dollar lately as Europe goes through its own econoclysm, U.S. prices for foreign-produced LSA could drop. Many airframe makers lowered prices, but the industry still faces challenges: ongoing dyspepsia imbued by the sluggish recovery; market recognition… many people still aren’t aware of what an LSA is, maybe that’s why 20% of all U.S. sales in the U.S.
For all you LSA California Dreamers out there, one of the oldest LSA schools in the southwest is worth a closer look.*** San Diego Sport Flyers has been rolling the LSA dice for more than two years now and reports it has grown to 50 members and claims to get “several calls per day pertaining to the Sport Pilot license.” *** AOPA recently praised the LSA school for its “right stuff” — and that was an unsolicited rave. *** The school just added a Legend Cub to the fleet and plans to bring on the Icon A5 once it’s through testing and development, too, sometime next year. *** Already online are the Gobosh 700, SportCruiser and Sting Sport shown. *** Tom Ellery, President of the operation, told Plane & Pilot editor Jessica Ambats recently that two high school students just got their Sport Pilot tickets and a 70-year-old student will solo soon.
If you’ve checked into Facebook since January you may know that PiperSport has its own page that you can become a fan of (I am, along with 9,200 others so far!) *** What you probably don’t know is there’s a fascinating video interview that chronicles why and how Piper decided to add social media such as Facebook and YouTube to its marketing strategy for the already-popular LSA. *** Very very interesting, and likely a sign of future marketing efforts from ad-cash-starved LSA makers. *** To date, the only other company I know that has a Facebook presence is Gobosh, and they’ve been there for some time. *** I won’t reprise the entire video clip (it’s well worth watching), but here are some of the highlights: *** Back in January, Piper’s content creators were tasked with making a video for the imminent launch of the PiperSport (the rebadged, “Piperized” CZAW SportCruiser). They also had to set up a Twitter feed, YouTube channel and the Facebook fan page.