Cessna jumps in LSA market report

By several measures and based on multiple conversations, 2011 is shaping up to be a better year than 2010. Of course, that’s not saying much as all of aviation was slow last year and in 2009. When you’re near the bottom of the well, everything starts looking up.

With those thoughts in mind, we present the newest market share report, this one through the third quarter of 2011.In recent years we’ve had folks tell us we ought to show charts of this year’s or this quarter’s performance. But most readers want to know the “installed base,” to borrow a phrase from the trend-setting tech industry. When people talk about Windows versus Apple market share or iOS versus Android, they generally mean how many of all buyers have those systems.

Nonetheless, we recognize pilots are hungry for more recent info. So for several years, we have discussed near-term performance in the text of our articles even while we present a graphic showing FAA N-number registrations since the beginning. The chart has become a staple of this industry used by all sorts of people: Airframe producers, avionics and other equipment manufacturers, insurance companies, FAA, and member organizations. (Note: As always, all numbers are derived from FAA’s N-number registration database. These figures are not identical to sales logged by the companies, although, over time, the numbers get closer.)

 For the last nine months, Cessna is far and away the leader, with 140 registrations logged in 2011. The Wichita giant once boasted of nearly 1,000 Skycatcher customers and it has been fulfilling those orders with increasing speed. Following Cessna is CubCrafters with 29 registrations so far this year. Other top producers include CSA’s SportCruiser (20), Flight Design (17), and Jabiru USA (8).

One new arrival in the top 20 is Arion and its Lightning (6 in 2011). Another up and comer is Pipistrel, fresh from its third-in-a-row victory at the NASA Green Challenge.

A few kit producers deserve mention, even though we struggle to count these numbers accurately due to confusion by entry clerks regarding the fuzzy distinctions between kit ELSA, amateur-built kits, and ELSA converted from two-place ultralights (the latter being, by far, the largest single component of what are called Light-Sport Aircraft in America). Nonetheless, with 132 FAA N-number registrations, Van’s Aircraft and its RV-12 earned our attention. Rans is another significant kit producer of aircraft meeting all parameters of LSA — the Kansas company also sells SLSA and ELSA versions of some models.

Cessna’s rise to the #2 slot from the #8 place at the beginning of the year pushed everyone else down. One-time #2 producer American Legend now finds itself in #5 with 5 new registrations in 2011.

Yet the top 10 have remained remarkably stable, and indeed, they account for more than 70% of all SLSA fixed wing airplanes delivered since day one in April 2005.

For more on Sport Pilot and LSAs: ByDanJohnson.com



  1. JohnGHawk says

    You have got to be kidding with the numbers of the Chi-Com Cessna! I will never fly or ride in one. It was a total sell out of America when they decided to produce the bird there and I would only hope more American aviators would stand up to the compaines that have gone the China route of production.
    Not No, But Hell No on Cessna!

  2. Rod Beck says

    I’m sure most if not all aviation buffs firmly believed the folks at “Says-Na” were going to build in the  “USA”, ie Wichita – Hello! As I recall, several hundred of these “junks”, not to be confused with the one’s that are water bound, orders were cancelled.

    REALITY is this ladies and gentlemen; “Says-Na” is only appeasing the recreational aviation consumer by staying in the light aircraft piston engine game – remember, old “Clyde” would be rolliing over in his grave if the Textron guys even abanded this market.

    This is merely about PROFIT not passion – how many Skycatchers IF not made in China or even the US made 172’s do you think if would take to equal the same NET profit of ONE Citation X?

  3. says

    I like Dan Johnson, but seriously, where did he get these numbers? I mean, who would pay $150k for a plane made in China out of reynolds wrap that has a range of maybe 400nm on a good day? What a waste of time and money. Seriously.

  4. John McIntosh says

    I can give you the names of a thousand owners flying the Sting S3/4 and the CTLS because they are well built, enjoyable machines. I don’t know one pilot who has bought a cessna sport from china. Not one. And, let’s face it, they are NOT the aircraft of choice. They are the aircraft cessna dealers are forced to accept, period. Just the fact that Dan Johnson did not address the fact Cessna is forcing these metal lemons on their dealers makes me wonder if the rules for counting should be changed. A sale should only be counted when an aircraft is sold to an individual and the plane has actually been used by the owner, not just registered. Let’s see those numbers.

  5. says

    The only reason Cessna is showing the high numbers of deliveries is that they are cramming them down the throats (and other places) of their dealers. If they don’t take  the Bug Smashers they don’t get the real airplanes. Cessna should concentrate on the China market for the 162 and not force them on the US dealers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *