Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, is an expert on Light Sport Aircraft.
Progressive Aerodyne and its popular SeaRey amphibian represent a current-day success sufficient to generate envy in most airframe sellers. Consider these results: The company delivered 31 kits in 2010, an average of 2.5 per month during a lousy year. Plus, in the three weeks after the Sebring LSA Expo, another 14 SeaRey kits were ordered, upping the monthly average to four.
In less than three years, sales director Darrell Lynds (formerly with SportairUSA) took the company from one kit a month to its current pace, along the way building a list of 1,700 very interested potential buyers. He says his 2011 orders are cash-in-hand and projects a solid year for the amphibious seaplane producer. This adds to a remarkably loyal following of 600 SeaRey aircraft builders. How can the central Florida manufacturer be doing so well?
Naturally, orders flow due a variety of factors, one of which is plain old salesmanship: Greeting people cordially, getting them a demo flight, and methodically following through. Another factor is a good price point. No matter how thick your wallet may be, price is always important and Darrell reports you can build a nicely equipped SeaRey for “in the $70,000s.” A SeaRey “Superkit” — meaning a Rotax 914 turbocharged engine, full glass panel, and all desirable options — will cost “in the $90,000s.” Naturally, your labor is added to these out-of-pocket costs.
Over the last two and a half years the company says two-thirds of those contacting the company express a preference for a ready-to-fly version. Indeed, the Tavares, Fla.-based company has been hard at work preparing its first SLSA for ASTM certification. Progressive Aerodyne expects to enter the factory-built market later this year. It is presently targeting a loaded model in the $120,000s, at which price SeaRey would be one of the best-priced seaplanes available. Designer Kerry Richter also has been busy, adding a folding wing option after a request from a wealthy customer who wants to carry his SeaRey on his 200-foot yacht.