2012 LSA market shares: Cubs and surprises

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.

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.

Mrkt Shrs Top 10 for 2012 (HiRez)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, its pace slowed sharply in the second half, adding only 23 Skycatchers (pictured), perhaps a result of the 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 post. 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 its #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.

Mrkt Shrs Fleet thru 2012 (HiRez)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 its distributor agreement with Czech Sport Aircraft; it added another 10 SLSA in 2012.

In a pleasant but unexpected turn, importer Phoenix Air USA added an impressive 10 SLSA registrations of its extremely lovely motorglider. Congratulations to all these leaders.

A member of the exclusive Over-100 Club listing of only eight SLSA producers is Tecnam. The Italian company showed renewed vigor, logging six registrations in the second half of the year. It also successfully completed an FAA audit in Italy. Among its five SLSA models, four are high-wing models yet its 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. It 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. It 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 it Paris, Tennessee facility. Breezer is now established on the SUN ’n FUN campus on Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport in Florida 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 its SuperSTOL model and this mostly kit company is enjoying a solid run of business.

We are also watching the pulse on seaplanes lead this year by Progressive Aerodyne, which earned SLSA approval even as FAA increased it 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.

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.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.

Find out more at ByDanJohnson.com


  1. says

    Here is the secret: The product may be excellent, but unless you teach people how to sell the product, nothing is gained!

    Unfortunately, the opportunity for HUGE gains in market share for LSA aircraft is available, but this problem hasn’t been correctly identified. The fact is if flight schools knew how to sell the benefits of the LSA program, they would have training available and know how to take advantage of the 83% washout rate!!! As an aviation consultant, most flight schools hate the LSA because in their words “brings out the cheapskate EAA types” and the flight school doesn’t think they will spend any money.

    Therefore, the LSA is sold to CPC’s who ordered them, or the Piper Cub is being bought, NOT by new buyers, but people ALREADY flying who 1) have always wanted one, 2) have flown for years and don’t want to have to have a medical to continue flying. The rest of the group…well, look at the numbers and discover that something is seriously wrong here!

  2. Fritz Katz says

    How many Parrots and Mermaids Dan? I put down a deposit on one after your assurance they were “in production” several years ago after you supposedly visited the factory (did you?), but turns out the factory assembly line photos were faked and not one SLSA of either has ever been delivered. True or false, Dan? True or false? One? Two? None?

    Heard one Mermaid was built from a kit as an experimental…maybe… and more scams may be brewing around the marque today. True? Details? The Parrot you crashed never flew again, did it?

    Will you be alerting users if your old pal and sponsor Chip Erwin (who directed CZAW into the abyss) is ever associated in any way with any future SLSA model so we can avoid that one? Thanks. Keep smiling. __________

    • says

      Yes, and the “Sport (Piper) Cruiser” is another story – a total lack of vision – typical of the “corporate drone” mind set. Maybe the “fellows” (and gals) at Cirrus should buy out CZAW – a “natiural” for a new 21st century breed of CPC (Cirrus Pilot Centers) to create pilots AND future aviation consumers!

  3. Charles Nelson says

    Anyone have any coments on the Paradise p1. Any thing positive or negative would help.Looking at a used one to purchase. Thanks

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