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2012 LSA Market Shares — Cubs & Surprises

by Dan Johnson •

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, 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. While Cessna looked to set a new record with 76 registrations (152 annualized) in the first half of 2012, their pace slowed sharply in the second half, adding only 23, perhaps a result of their announcement about switching to Primary Category as a means of entering the European market. The Wichita giant is singlehandedly restarting Primary Category with the first such application in nearly 20 years, a decision that may inspire other companies to go this route.

Perhaps the most noteworthy story in 2012 registrations is an even better performance by CubCrafters. The Washington State company added 48 new registrations, up 33% from 36 in 2011. Company marketing boss John Whitish reported 52 SLSA sales, which prompts us to ask that you read the notice at the end of this article.

Congratulations to CubCrafters, clearly a company to keep watching.

A remarkably steady climber is Aerotrek, which took the #3 slot for 2012 registrations, a notable improvement from their #5 spot in 2011.

Despite some reports that all SLSA are expensive, Aerotrek has a very attractive price point and an impressively built, folding wing aircraft available in tailwheel or trigear. Aerotrek consistently replies to our listings, with the goal of making our FAA registrations report more precise. This happens, for example, when sales occur to Canada with no N-number assigned or when a SLSA drops down to ELSA perhaps as the owner wants to make design changes (which is allowed as is owner maintenance). Other companies also see differences explained by deregistration, accidents that remove the aircraft from the registry, or simple errors in data entry after a sale.

Regardless of the variables in counting registrations versus sales, bravo to Aerotrek! Based on their faithful feedback we have been able to improve our accuracy.

Other top guns in 2012 include perennial leaders like Flight Design, which remains convincingly atop the overall fleet and added 11 more registrations during the year and American Legend which revived from a sluggish 2011 to add 11 SLSA in 2012. SportCruiser importer US Sport Aircraft fulfilled the last of the PiperSport orders and rewrote their distributor agreement with Czech Sport Aircraft; they added another 10 SLSA in 2012. In a pleasant but unexpected turn, importer Phoenix Air USA added an impressive 10 SLSA registrations of their extremely lovely motorglider. Congratulations to all these leaders.

A member of the exclusive Over-100 Club listing only eight SLSA producers is Tecnam. The Italian company showed renewed vigor logging six registrations in the second half of the year. They also successfully completed an FAA audit in Italy. Among their five SLSA models, four are high-wing models yet their low wing Sierra has 51 units flying in America, more than any other Tecnam model.

Another European producer with facilities in Italy is Pipistrel, which overcame regulatory hurdles in mid-year and has begun delivering SLSA to Americans. They also logged six in the last half of the year. Both Tecnam and Pipistrel report active sales outside the USA.

Unfortunately, one former high flyer, Remos, lost its U.S  representative and has become very quiet though earlier this year, their CEO said they had recovered from the previous CEO’s high spending ways.

We are watching a few companies not on our fleet chart. One new entry to the SLSA scene is Bristell, in a new partnership with fractional ownership provider, AAP. They join some other companies that have not been active long enough to get on the fleet chart, but nonetheless deserve attention. These companies include World Aircraft Co., which is bringing all production to their Paris, Tennessee facility. Breezer is now established on the Sun ‘n Fun campus and more is expected from them. Sky Arrow producer Magnaghi has new life and may resurge. Aero’s AT-4 (formerly known as Gobosh) is back with new representation. Just Aircraft got rave reviews on their SuperSTOL model and this mostly kit company is enjoying a solid run of business something like 100% kit producers Zenith Aircraft and Sonex. While mentioning kit builders (not on our SLSA list), we must include Van’s Aircraft, which has seen registration of 203 RV-12 kits.

We are also watching the pulse on seaplanes lead this year by Progressive Aerodyne, which earned SLSA approval even as FAA increased their oversight via highly detailed audits.

Congratulations to the SeaRey team for this significant accomplishment.

This brief look at the LSA market is not complete. One observation is that the “All other producers” category is now the largest percentage, indicating small producers continue to develop sales. Some companies not reflected in our Top-20 and Top-10 charts may emerge into these lists in the future.

Others that have been in the Top 20 but which are no longer producing new aircraft were omitted. However, all SLSA models are covered in our SPLOG reports and you may also examine our Featured Aircraft (right column of most pages) for more exciting
Light-Sport Aircraft and other aircraft Sport Pilots can fly.

As I have said for years, a loud shout-out is owed to Jan Fridrich of the Czech LAA for the LSA Market Share report. Jan is also head of LAMA Europe and a tireless worker for the advancement of Light Sport aviation. He invests many hours to analyze data for each report. Thanks, Jan, on behalf of all readers.

During 2013, we will work to solicit comments from producers to evaluate the sales versus registration numbers. This is not an easy task and no promises are made yet the effort seems worthwhile in the pursuit of better information.

Notice: As always, we observe for you that all numbers here are derived from FAA’s N-number registration database and are subject to data entry errors. Figures presented are not identical to sales recorded by the companies though over time the numbers draw closer.

February 2013 Light Aviation Edition

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