Anticipation is always high for the latest market share information and I am happy to provide an update, thanks to my European associate Jan Fridrich who does the hard work of sifting through FAA’s database. I remind you that his efforts are not merely tallying whatever FAA publishes. In fairness, Jan has to evaluate many pieces of information and judge accuracy of the entries.
This isn’t because FAA’s registrars are bumbling fools who cannot enter data accurately. The challenges come from the sheer number of brands (90) and models (127) over a mere seven years…unprecedented in aviation history. To that add the variations of Experimental Amateur Built (EAB), Special Light-Sport Aircraft (SLSA), Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft kits (ELSA), and converted two-place ultralights to LSA status.
Then factor in that some standard category or homebuilt aircraft that meet the LSA parameters of weight, speed, and other values such that some people consider them “LSA,” when what they truly mean is that they can be flown by some possessing a Sport Pilot certificate. My onetime EAA associate Ron Wagner coined the phrase “Sport Pilot eligible” to describe these aircraft.
So now we come to the first half of 2012. Cessna appears the clear and away winner of the registration sweepstakes with an impressive 71 registered aircraft logged in six months (11.8/month).
Jan reports a good number of these are registered in Cessna’s corporate name so they do not equate to deliveries, although they are newly hatched LSA. In all of 2011 Cessna registered 11.2/month, so Shenyang Aircraft in China is finding a steady pace of production.
Following well behind — but still leading the rest of the pack — is CubCrafters with 28 more registrations in the first half (4.7/month), a faster pace than its 2011 performance of 36 (3/month), indeed greater than 50% more production than last year when it also came in second after Cessna.
American Legend managed to slightly up its 2011 pace to register seven new LSA in the first six months of 2012, trailed by Flight Design and Aerotrek with six each, followed by a tie between Jabiru U.S. and SportCruiser at five each.
One surprise is Phoenix, the sleek motorglider builder, whose U.S. importer registered four in 2012 but reports having sold 20. “We cannot keep up with orders from customers,” Jim Lee reports, “even though the production rate has increased.”
Bristell registered three and was followed by a chain of companies registering two apiece: Arion and its Lightning, Renegade and its Falcon, World Aircraft and its Spirit, and Canadian Light Aircraft and its Bush Caddy.
Quite a few more companies at least got on the log and I think it’s fair to say the first half of 2012 represents an improvement over 2011. That’s great and we’ll hope for more progress in the LSA sector.
DISCLAIMER: As always, we remind readers that the information presented here and in the nearby graph is derived from registrations as logged by the FAA Registration Branch. Figures are not sales or deliveries, though over time, these values will tend to be very close. Also, the registration database used for this report may no longer include aircraft that were removed from the registry, slightly altering the numbers. Such removals can occur when an aircraft is shipped out of the USA, is destroyed by an accident, or is taken from Special LSA category to another category like Experimental LSA. Every effort has been made to report the most accurate information available.
For more on Sport Pilot and LSAs: ByDanJohnson.com