Friday, July 22, 2011

LSA Registration Numbers: The Gang of Six!

Winged buddy Dan Johnson and his colleague Jan Fridrich, head of LAMA Europe, just posted Jan's exhaustive parsing of the LSA registration data and came up with some shockers.
 Dan calls it the LSA Market Share Report.  The first thing he notes is apparent stability in the marketplace: overall registration numbers for the first half of 2011 are about the same as last year, he says, so at least the industry didn’t fall off from that tough year. The pace is on track to better 2009's 177 total registrations and 2010's 202.
In 2010, 48 came from Cessna, which, when subtracted from the total, gives you 154 for the whole year for the rest of the fleet. 
So, looking again at 2011's first half of 126, subtracting Cessna's numbers from the total of 126 yields just 72.
Double that (144) and we could end up with even fewer registrations than 2010, (not counting Cessna) although at just 10 less it's not an earthshaking falloff unless you want to be a worrywart and consider 2009, which had 177 total...and none from Cessna.  But we won't go there.
As has been the trend from the beginning, just a handful - six this time - LSA companies racked up 92% of all new registrations!
Remember, these aren’t sales on the book but previous (or future) sales, since these numbers only reflect aircraft registered from Jan. through June with FAA.  For instance, several LSA might come in at one time to a dealer, who might register them all at once before selling any of them.  Or vice versa: some already sold may not have been registered.  Still, the reg numbers provide a pretty accurate glimpse of what's really going on.
And The Gang of Six
Cessna: 54, for almost 43% of all registrations, on the strength of Skycatching-up in production
CubCrafters: 20 for 17%
Czech Aircraft Works: 16 for 13%, which includes formerly-badged PiperSports
American Legend: 11 for 9%
Flight Design (still #1): 10 for 7%.
Jabiru: 5 for 4%
That’s 116 aircraft out of the total of 126.
Now if we throw in Aeropro (Aerotrek models) and its 4 registrations, those top 7 companies account for just over 95% of all 2011 registrations!  That means of all the other 112 manufacturers, only 6 aircraft made the books.
CubCrafters continues to show strong market share
That, my friends, is a hard number to swallow for all those hardy, perservering companies who are still in the game mostly, as the numbers suggest, on a wing and a lot of prayers.
Dan goes on to point out that eight makers have now sold more than 100 aircraft.  In an economy as enduringly painful as a chronic bad tooth, that’s somewhat encouraging.
And even though only 126 aircraft were registered since January 19th...well, 126 aircraft were registered since January 19th!  In other words, the industry is not throwing in the towel, though it’s sure getting a drenching.
Another bellweather of sorts: Cessna’s healthy production has for the first time tipped the market scales toward the U.S.: we registered more aircraft than offshore producers in 2011.
Cessna is now 8th (13th six months ago), based on 54 Skycatchers registered.  That’s like watching an insider stock chart shoot for the moon! 
And with a goodly percentage of those highly-touted initial 1000 orders still on the books, Cessna will only continue to leapfrog the rest at the top of the list for the foreseeable future, at least until purse strings not only among the merely well-off but the uber-rich loosen up, because right now, not many people in any income category are buying much of anything considered a luxury.
Some surprising numbers, as my reader Thomas pointed out in a comment to my previous blog post:
Five major makers, all in the top 20,  narrowly missed striking out completely in registrations the first six months!
Four of them - Tecnam, TL Ultralight (Sting), Eastman (Zodiac models) and Evektor (SportStar), failed to register a single ship.  Only Remos  It registered 32 in 2009!  What’s happening here? 
Eastman is working on a comeback after several fatal crashes and a subsequent airframe redesign, but the other four produce a variety of excellent quality aircraft and enjoy good reputations.  Pricing on any of their models is not by and large out of line with the rest of the market.
Thomas goes into the shadows with this:  “It's not that there's no demand: SportCruiser, Cessna, CubCrafters and Flight Design all registered decent numbers of aircraft. Was the owner experience of these other aircraft not so good? Support not there? Wrong features? Parts problems? Airframe failures? Or did the distributor simply bring in too much inventory, register it all at once, and then spend the last 2 years not registering any new ones while steadily selling off the inventory?”
All are reasonable inquiries.  I’m particularly drawn to his support and inventory sell-off conjectures.  Airframe failures have been at a minimum.  Owner experience is difficult to gauge: what one person tells a private buddy may never reach many public ears, rumor mongers though we pilots tend to be.
It’s hard to see a clear picture for four of those five companies not tallying.  It’s worth some digging; I’ll have Dr. Watson and my magnifying glass at the ready at Oshkosh, which starts in just three days!


Pete Zaitcev said...

Evektor is particularly disappointing. It is the only low-wing design into which I can fit. SportCruiser's canopy settles on my head with 5 cm still to go, and by that time I'm pressing knees against the dash hard already. If there's no good supply of used Evektors on the market, I might need to start looking at high wings, and I have a big trouble with visibility in them.

Anonymous said...

Like Pete, I can't see a thing out of the high-wing designs: it's like flying a flight simulator, with a narrow forward field of vision. I'm a bit distressed that there's only one low-wing design in the Gang of Six - and it has among the poorest forward and downward visibilities of the low-wing LSAs out there: the Evektor, TL Ultralight and, to a lesser extent, the Tecnam all knock the socks off the SportCruiser in that department.

- Thomas

James Lawrence said...

How tall are you? I'm 5'11" and have found a great many of the 30+ LSA I've flown, the majority of them high wingers, to have excellent visibility.
The Pipistrel Virus SW 80/100 is a case in point: smaller, optimized for performance in a soaring/light cruising mission, it's nevertheless comfortable, roomy, and has very good visibility out, down, back and forward. The door frame is four inches above my eyesight level, the forward view over the cowl is fine even though nowhere near as full as many highwingers, and there's a smallish but very effective overhead window which opens up the in-bank view, great for thermalling and just checking out the airspace you're coming around to.
And it's not a big airplane inside as LSA go.
So I think it will help other pilots a lot if you can let us know how tall you are.
Certainly many high wing S-LSA are challenging for taller pilots. That's why it's best to go sit in several at a local or national airshow, that's of course the best way to find out how well any given plane "fits" you.
But in truth, I've found the viz in LSA to be superior in visibility general to any high wing GA tin I've ever flown in.

Anonymous said...


I'm 5'10" but long in the torso. When I sit up straight on my chair, my eye line is about 31"-32" above the seat. My eye level is at or above above the bottom of the wing root in almost every high-wing LSA I've sat into, including the Tecnam, Flight Design, and Remos, if I recall correctly. (There were others but I don't want to misspeak.) I do think the Virus was an exception. Not to beat up on LSAs, as such: Cessna 172s are worse, and I also have problems with headroom in some popular gliders, like the ASW-19.

The other problem I run into, specifically with strutless high-wing LSAs, is that the spar carry-through is just inches from my forehead. In a sudden stop, I feel the spar in a Virus (for example) would take the top off my head (and I noticed the same in one other strutless design, but I forget which). I feel I could bang my head against the spar by leaning forward in the seat, although it's possible I might have to lift myself a little to do it. I would want to fly with a crash helmet! (I have spoken to someone else who expressed that thought after doing a delivery flight in a strutless high wing LSA.)

I don't think overhead windows help much in turns, although they're better than nothing - but I certainly wouldn't want to share a thermal using one.

I have nothing philosophically or stylistically against high wings. Doors are nice, and don't let the rain in as much. High wings are good for sheltering from heat and wet. But, as a general rule I don't care for having almost everything above the horizon blanked out by the wing, even if my eyeline is a couple of inches below it, and I find the "A" pillar is usually quite intrusive on high-wing machines. To my mind, the pilot-forward layout of the Stemme S-10 or the Yuneec 430 is ideal - a high wing, behind you!