One of the oft-repeated questions about this new thing called Light-Sport Aircraft is: “When will the shakeout occur? When will some of these 75 companies [who certified a SLSA] disappear… and which ones will fail?” *** First, my ability to see the future is no better than anyone else. We’ve lost a few suppliers (Taylorcraft, Urban Air, Spain’s CAG, Higher Class). But as a longtime observer of many sport aviation segments, here’s my view: (1) The current market leaders — the top dozen or so — will likely remain as they’ve already proven themselves. Remember, many overseas brands have world markets so they don’t rely 100% on U.S. sales. And should they fail, it will most likely be due to business practices, not their aircraft design. A few newcomers will enter the top ranks, including such legacy brands as Cessna (which has presently delivered so few Skycatchers that the giant manufacturer is not yet in the Top 20). (2) I see room for a significant number of specialty producers who fill niches of interest to various pilot groups. Seaplanes, gliders or motorgliders, gyros, powered parachutes, and trike producers are examples of what I’d call “alternative aircraft.” Some aviators love these segments and will support producers of quality aircraft. (3) My best guess is that it’s a group in the middle that will quietly disappear, the “me-too” aircraft that don’t offer something different and cannot compete with the big boys. *** Companies focusing on seaplanes or floatplanes include SeaMax, Sea Rey, FPNA, and, when certified, Icon. My guess is they will prosper so long as a reasonable number of customers continue to enjoy their designs. Yes, some other companies offer floats on their land planes, but the seaplane market is not their primary focus. *** Florida-based SeaMax USA recently made deliveries of a couple more airplanes and the photos show the appeal. Really now… wouldn’t you love to live in that big house with water toys including the SeaMax right out front? I know I would!
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