There’s no doubt last year was a tough one for all parts of the GA industry, including its newest segment, Light Sport Aircraft. “It was a bloodbath out there,” said Dan Johnson, an LSA guru and president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA). “It was extremely slow, not only 2009, but in 2010 — scary slow.”
Johnson, who said at Sun ‘n Fun that he had talked to most of the players in the LSA industry as he organized the LSA Mall for the show, noted that things are changing. “The good news is that most of the same people who said it was slow say they are getting calls again,” he said. “People are starting to sign contracts.”
Johnson reported that in 2009, 234 LSA airplanes — defined as fixed-wing — were registered, compared to 491 in 2008. “That’s a drop of 42%,” he said, noting that it still beat certified, single-piston sales, which dropped 54%. “The LSA industry isn’t gloating. We feel badly for the thousands of employees who were laid off. It just affected our business a little less.”
Johnson reported that the LSA Mall at Sun ‘n Fun was “full to capacity, despite very tough times for most of our producers. We know visitors love these collections of LSAs,” noting the mall featured 18 of the most-popular LSAs.
This is the fourth year the LSA Mall was featured at Sun ‘n Fun. This year it covered a good portion of the Southeast Exhibit area.
In other news, Johnson reported that at the European airshow Aero Friedrichshafen, a group of European manufacturers formed LAMA-EU, which will begin lobbying the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to adopt ASTM standards for LSAs, like in the U.S. About 60% of LSAs are built in Europe, including Remos, Flight Design, Tecnam, the new PiperSport and more.
The goal is to create “global” LSAs, with all countries accepting ASTM standards, he said, noting 12 countries already accept the standards, while another 30 are in the process of considering the standards. “If the U.S. and Europe approve the standards, then the other countries will get in line,” he said.