LSA Sales Down, but Fleet Still Growing

By Scott Spangler on January 26th, 2009

Manufacturers of light-sport aircraft have not escaped the recession. According to several reports, this segment of the aviation industry has not been hit as hard as the manufacturers of heavier general aviation airplanes and the LSA fleet grew by 35 percent in 2008.

logo-LAMA In his year-end report, Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, said LSA sales in 2008 were down around 20 percent.  Between January 1, 2008 and the end of November, the fixed-wing LSA fleet grew from 1,118 to 1,510. “Annualizing the numbers,” he said owners should have registered 427 airplane LSAs, which works out to roughly 35 aircraft a month.

JetWhine_remos Flight Design, Johnson reports, continues to lead the field, registering 56 LSAs in the first 11 months of 2008, but Remos is gaining. Over the same period it registering 50 aircraft (like its GX, right), and its total representation in the LSA fleet has increased 147 percent since January 1, 2008. Right behind it is Tecnam, which registered 36 aircraft, making it just the third manufacturer to register more than 100 of its LSAs. Czech Aircraft Works added 31 LSAs to the fleet, Jabiru 29, and American Legend 24.

JetWhine_FA04 Peregine In the last days of 2008, the FA-04 Peregrine earned its LSA approval. The Hansen Air Group is the US rep for the low-wing carbon fiber bird manufactured in Germany by Flaeming Air. With Rotax 912 power, its 44-inch wide cockpit has “lots of leg room” and a good sized baggage compartment. What makes it unique among LSAs is that a certified mechanic can quickly change it from a trike to a taildragger.

JetWhine_Sebring Logo What will happen this year is anyone’s guess, but it’s a good sign that most of the top manufacturers were in Sebring, Florida, for the annual LSA-only U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, which wrapped up its four-day run on January 25. Talking to Cessna’s VP of corporate communications halfway through the show, Bob Stangarone said with one or two exceptions, all the major players were among the 160 or so exhibitors, and the attendance was much better than the year before.  Several new designs made their debuts, and with temps in the 70s, “there’s a lot of flying going on,” he said. Many are talking about the economy and where it might go, he said, but just as many people, if not more, are “starting the conversations that lead to orders.”  —Scott Spangler

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One Response to “LSA Sales Down, but Fleet Still Growing”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Hi Scott-
    I did not see Cirrus represented with the SRS when I attended on Friday.

    Did I miss them, or is that a sign that they’re not so enthusiastic anymore about the LSA?

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