Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, is an expert on Light Sport Aircraft.
The sluggish economy has slowed the pace of new model introductions. Holding steady at 109 approved Light-Sport Aircraft — every one of which arrived in the last five and a half years — more designs are still to come. In the interim, companies whose aircraft already populate the LSA marketplace are putting additional effort into refining their aircraft and processes.
Much like the residential housing market is seeing more remodeling work than new construction, LSA companies are making good use of a slower sales period to improve products, revamp production lines, upgrade engineering and documentation, and tweak other organizational tasks. When companies are building airplanes as fast as they can (as in 2006, 2007, and early 2008), these time-consuming details can be challenging to accomplish.
Aviation giants are suffering, judging from continued layoffs at major aircraft producers. The malaise also affects recreational aviation, but not as harshly. Smaller companies don’t have large overhead structures and big payrolls to meet so they can actually weather economic recessions somewhat better. Nonetheless a small number of LSA producers have been forced to close their doors and that possibility is why LAMA, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, is constructing its LAMASafety.org website. In addition to directing owners and mechanics to a single location where they can find links to safety alerts for all LSA manufacturers, the website will also permanently store relevant information like Safety Bulletins, Pilot Operating Handbooks, maintenance manuals, parts catalogs, and more.
Why? Because when a company leaves the business, its website — through which safety information is commonly distributed — goes dark, possibly stranding owners of their models. The FAA asked the industry to do better at maintaining this vital information and LAMA has stepped up to the plate, thanks to donations from leading producers. I’ll have more about this pivotal development in the weeks ahead.
For more information: ByDanJohnson.com