FAA forecast: Spot on or improbable?

As the Light-Sport Aircraft industry ramps up for a summer of flying and the season’s biggest celebration of flight, AirVenture Oshkosh, I am still analyzing the FAA’s recently issued 20-year forecast for aviation, which shows growth prospects for LSAs, while predicting a decline in the total number of piston-powered aircraft. Viewed from a distance, this might seem beneficial to LSA producers and sellers.

Regretfully, I find FAA’s forecast improbable. Not that the agency’s number crunchers are wrong — in fact, I hope they might be right. I simply find a 20-year forecast for an industry only seven years old to be a form of spreadsheet-based palm reading.

That said, here are a few tidbits gleaned from a study of FAA’s spreadsheets: [Read more...]

LSAs vs. Cessna 150s

Skycatcher

There’s been a lot of debate in the aviation community over the value and challenges of LSA as flight trainers compared to old standards like Cessna 150s. I’d like to weigh in on some the questions being raised.

Are LSA harder to fly — specifically, are they harder to land? The best way to respond is to say that they are different. [Read more...]

Aerotrek success mirrors other positive news

Aerotrek

Aerotrek may be one of those “sleepers.” You know, the kind of company that does well, has few problems, and doesn’t need to make a lot of noise to be successful. Aerotrek’s tri-gear and taildragger models look great, fly well, and are priced so reasonably that sales are remarkably steady. The company ranks #12 in fleet size and came in fifth for 2011 registrations.

[Read more...]

Kodak moment for Quicksilver

QuicksilverGT500

Among all aircraft producers in the world, a very limited number have exceeded the daunting barrier of delivering more than 10,000 airplanes. Those in this exclusive club include manufacturers of major aircraft such as Boeing, Cessna, Piper, and precious few others. While Van’s Aircraft is approaching this number with its RV kit-built aircraft series (itself a rather incredible achievement), no recreational aircraft company has passed the 10,000 unit mark…except one: Quicksilver.

[Read more...]

MoGas flying higher as avgas price rises

“Things are really popping with autogas,” said Kent Misegades, one member of a group, the Aviation Fuel Club, trying to assure more LSA-friendly fuels (like zero ethanol or E0). Though the new Rotax 912 iS can handle ethanol, it truly loves E0 and many experts say it runs more powerfully and cleaner with such fuel, plus wear and tear is reportedly reduced. Another big plus is that such fuel is significantly cheaper than avgas like 100LL.

[Read more...]

EASA awards first restricted Type Certificates

Flight Design CTLS

On Day 1 of Aero 2012, Dave Unwin reported hearing many comments about EASA’s halting move toward acceptance of the concept of Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft, which was invented in the USA. The European Union, with an equally proud heritage of aviation, is showing familiar reluctance to embrace what another country has achieved, even when aircraft builders in the EU seek a one-for-one alignment of the rules so that aircraft certified in one country can be sold in another, as happens now with (most) European airplanes being accepted in the USA.

[Read more...]

LSA news from Sun ’n Fun

Whew! It’s over. Sun ’n Fun can be the busiest six days of one’s life ­— until the next one. I wanted to skim the very top of what I found interesting at the recently concluded show. Today I’ll cover airframe manufacturers and follow up this week with more.

[Read more...]

Beauty and the bird: Do esthetics matter?

Lisa Akoya

Even those who are not Apple fans agree the trend-setting California company’s focus on design beauty draws attention to its products. From its position near the back of the pack a dozen years ago, Apple has become the most valuable tech company in the world. Could this be due to its highly-refined sense of esthetics? More to the point of aviation enthusiasts, is artful design an ingredient in pleasing customers?

[Read more...]