I have just returned from EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 and really enjoyed the show.
So, what is the state of the general aviation industry as judged by things at Oshkosh? It seemed to be the normal good news/bad news thing.
Let’s get to the bad news first: There is still a shortage of technical people in many of the exhibitor booths.
But there’s much more good news.
The bright spot is in pilot training. As there is a shortage of trained pilots for airlines and other commercial aviation operations, the pilot training business is very hot. I talked to a gentleman from Piper Aircraft and he said that the company’s production is booked several years into the future.
And all of the production scheduled is for trainers for flight training organizations, such as flight schools and universities.
He noted that if an individual pilot wanted to order a plane, they would try to squeeze it into the production schedule, but the company isn’t looking for those kinds of orders near term.
The other areas that are doing OK are Light-Sport Aircraft and homebuilt aircraft.
The LSA market seems steady. A few years ago, there was a multitude of new makes and models. This seems to have quieted down somewhat with the departure of some manufacturers. The ones that have remained seem to be well engineered and fairly well manufactured. I did not go to all of them that had displays at the show, but the ones I talked to were upbeat.
The homebuilt market also seems steady, especially for the old-line companies that are marketing well-engineered models that are built with quality parts.
There were a number of other changes that have improved the Oshkosh experience, including better organization of exhibits, as well as the convenience of indoor restrooms. Experimental Aircraft Association President Jack Pelton and his crew have done a very good job at retuning the show to make it a pleasant experience — and one well worth the effort for any aviation enthusiast to attend.