With one month to go (and it’s hard to imagine a big December), we have figures to report for this most extraordinary year. We’re all (painfully) aware of the economic predicament, but how has this impacted light-sport aviation? Here’s my observations. *** In 11 months, the industry has increased fleet size by 35% to 1,510 fixed wing airplanes from 1,118 on January 1st. Annualizing the numbers, all airplane LSA should register 427 airplanes, which equates to about 35 aircraft per month, which means sales were about 20% off the monthly pace recorded since early 2006. *** Flight Design held its top spot and again delivered the most, but just barely. Remos has been the rising star of 2008 with a 147% increase over their total on January 1st. Tecnam became only the third company to pass 100 units registered. Other solid gains were logged by Czech Aircraft Works (up 69% in the year); Jabiru (up 53%); FPNA (up 55%, though from a lower number, which makes larger percentage gains easier); Aeropro (up 52%).
Jabiru Australia J250-SP
Phone: (931) 680-2800BUNDABERG WEST, QLD, -- 4670 - Australia
U.S. Distributor is US Sport Planes
Phone: 940-597-6860Denton, TX 76207 - USA
Big Crowds at the Sun ‘n Fun LSA Mall
Sun ‘n Fun 2008 is history, but planning is already underway for the 2009 event. Event boss John Burton confirmed we will again have the LAMA-hosted LSA Mall right at the front gate next April 21-26. A major success at this year’s Lakeland, Florida airshow, the industry Mall presentation featured 17 Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Weather prevented Fantasy Air’s Allegro from attending. Two days before the event, a tornado crushed a Sting S3 planned for display. And work at Quicksilver Manufacturing postponed the exhibit of the GT500 (they’re finishing SLSA approval, reports national sales manager, Todd Ellefson). *** The 17 who were in the ’08 LSA Mall enjoyed significant traffic all week and virtually every visitor to Sun ‘n Fun was at least exposed to Light-Sport Aircraft in a wide variety (although we were not able to enlist any trike or powered parachute companies).
More than 1,000 SLSA Airplanes Registered with FAA
October 2007 brought another top finish for Jabiru USA. FAA registrations of J-250 and J-170 led the industry for the second consecutive month contributing to their rise in the ranks. Czech Aircraft Works logged a good increase and moved up in the chart. And, CubCrafters continued their steady climb. *** In a fresh look, this month’s chart has more information. Included are the top 20 brands, counting all models by those companies (four manufacturers have multiple certifications). In addition to percentages, this month we also show the number of airplanes registered with FAA. But remember, FAA registrations do not precisely equal deliveries. Finally, due to questions about how their numbers are counted, we omitted weight shift and powered parachute LSA. *** A few observations may add to your own study of this chart. Cub replicas or redesigns from three companies added together would convincingly occupy the #2 slot with 181 registered.
Jabiru’s J-250 3-Door SLSA Leads September 2007
In September, as the Cessna Skycatcher’s wave of orders soaked up funds that might have gone to other SLSA, Jabiru logged the most FAA registrations — 6 more J-250s, bringing the company to 44 units delivered and placing the model 9th overall among fixed wing airplanes. In second place, CT, CH-601XL, and Skyboy each added three registered units. Though the month was slower than usual for fixed wings, weight-shift added another strong month with 19 registrations (though some are wondering if these trikes are all SLSA or include ELSA conversions; we’re researching this). Combined, trikes and powered parachutes added 25 aircraft to the FAA registry while fixed wings added 27 for a total of 52 new SLSA. *** Jabiru USA has moved steadily up the market share chart. As the only aircraft company I know supplying both airframe and engine, Jabiru USA advanced steadily into the Top Ten of SLSA providers in the USA.
AOPA’s Hartford Expo Has Generous Count of LSA
Most pilots know AOPA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, has been fighting the user fee battle…and they’ve been doing well resisting the might of the U.S. government. But they must also have a connection with Mother Nature as warm, beautiful weather shined on opening day at Connecticut’s Brainard airport. *** On display: StingSport, Skylark, the new Breezer II, Allegro 2000, SportCruiser, Sigma, Thorpedo, Sport Cub, Bravo, Sierra, CTsw, Jabiru J-250, Gobosh G-700S, and Remos G-3. Contrary to earlier info, American Champion brought The Champ, Cessna displayed their Skycatcher mockup, and Cirrus flew their SRS. In all, I counted 17 LSA at Hartford. That amounts to a healthy 19% of all airplanes on display.
Light Sport Airplanes West Officially Opens
Within 24 hours of getting home from Sun ‘n Fun, several industry leaders including Evektor America’s Jeff Conrad, Flight Design USA’s Tom Peghiny, Jabiru USA’s Ed Ricks, and BRS parachute’s Gregg Ellsworth packed up and headed off to California. What motivated these men to depart so soon after a long week in Florida? They all wanted to support proprietor Mike Fletcher as he and his staff celebrated the Grand Opening of Light Sport Airplanes West. I also flew out to join the party for America’s largest LSA showroom and a grand affair it was. Estimates put attendance at 300 (I suspect that didn’t include everyone present as some 100 aircraft flew in). Representing the Sportstar, CTsw, and J-250 plus the Remos G-3, TL Ultralight StingSport, and Tecnam, LSA West has an impressive line and a large inventory of LSA in stock.
Here Come the LSA Hybrids…Storm Rally & Others
In the auto industry “hybrid” infers the use of multiple technologies (think: Toyota Prius). In aviation, hybrid could mean an airplane designed in one country and built in another. Even Boeing farms out subassemblies worldwide, integrating them in America. Car companies coined “domestic content” to state what portion of a car is “Made in the USA.” *** We’re doing it in LSA, too. Besides the Storm Rally (photo), Jabiru 170 and 250 and the Delta Jet 912 trike are hybrids. The Italian-designed, Canadian-owned, Skykits line is U.S.-built. *** Prestige Aircraft is the licensed manufacturer for aircraft designed by Storm Aircraft of Italy. Like Jabiru USA, Prestige brings in major components, assembles them, and finishes with U.S.-sourced elements, which better addresses the American market. Storm Rally comes with basic VFR flight instruments and equipment, including a turn-coordinator, tail-strobe, Icon 200 radio, and Garmin transponder with altitude encoder.
Come See LSA at AOPA’s 2007 Expo in Hartford
At Oshkosh I took the chance to speak with several general aviation leaders — CEOs of top general aviation companies and presidents of leading membership organizations. All have been kind to me with their time and generous with their support for the Sport Pilot concept, but I sensed they didn’t yet accept LSA deep down. Minor questions remained. Today that seems convincingly gone. The same not-100%-certain leaders now chorus, “LSA is here to stay.” *** Evidence of that is again marshaling for AOPA’s season-ending event for general aviation. The D.C.-based organization now counts more than 413,000 members, more than two-thirds of all pilots on the FAA register. The traveling Expo show typically draws well from a region’s pilot population. Action starts October 4-6, 2007 at the Hartford-Brainard Airport (HFD). *** For the third year running AOPA is providing a grouped location for Light-Sport Aircraft right where you enter the airplane display area (SLSA exhibitor list under photo).
Jabiru J250: A Great Cross Country LSA
|Seating||two, side-by-side, 44 inches|
|Empty weight||780 pounds|
|Gross weight||1,320 pounds|
|Wing area||120 square feet|
|Wing loading||11 pounds/square foot|
|Useful Load||540 pounds|
|Length||21 feet, 5 inches|
|Payload (with full fuel)||324 pounds|
|Height||7 feet, 10 inches|
|Fuel Capacity||36 gallons|
|Baggage area||enormous 1|
|Notes:||1 The J250 is based on the four-seat Jabiru J400 fuselage with no rear seats installed.|
|Standard engine||120 hp, Jabiru 3300|
|Power loading||11 pounds/hp|
|Max Speed||120 knots|
|Cruise speed||120 knots|
|Stall Speed||45 knots|
|Never exceed speed||138 knots|
|Rate of climb at gross||700 fpm 1|
|Takeoff distance at gross||700 feet 1|
|Landing distance at gross||640 feet|
|Range (powered)||840 nautical miles / 7.2 hours (w/o reserve)|
|Fuel Consumption||5.0 gph|
|Notes:||1 Solo performance attributes are 1,200 fpm climb and a 325-foot takeoff roll.|
What’s that airplane with the funny sounding name? The question arises when pilots, unfamiliar with the new brands introduced by the light-sport aircraft (LSA) category, try to comprehend the name Jabiru. “And this airplane company also makes its own engine?” This second question frequently follows the first. Jabiru USA’s Peter “Pete” Krotje and his staff must tire of the explanation. “It’s JAB-i-roo,” I heard Pete reply patiently one day at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2005. “And, yes, the company makes both the airframe and engine.” So begins the tale of this new airplane from the country down under famous for kangaroos and cowboys who speak English in a distinctly different way. Designed by Jabiru Australia of Bundaberg West, Australia, the J250 and J170 recently earned special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) certification, which the Calypso hopes to do soon as well. It’s A Little Big Plane As you walk up to the J250, this modern, composite cruiser looks like a small airplane, yet entering the J250 is easy and, once inside, the cockpit is surprisingly roomy, especially given its enormous luggage area.
Jabiru Hits a Double with Twin Approvals
And then we had 20…SLSA approvals, that is. Jabiru’s Pete Krotje announced his company had received not one but two FAA airworthiness certificates for J250 and the new J170. The latter is aimed at the flight training market. Smaller than the J250 which has an enormous baggage area — being based on the the four-seat J400 — the J170 is based on the proven two-seat Jabiru, the Calypso. It will be powered with the company’s four cylinder, 80-hp 2200 engine. Smaller, yes, but J170 still has a broad 45-inch cabin with plenty of headroom. The J170 is big in other ways, too, with a 562 pound useful load and a whopping 35 gallons of fuel (which may not all be used in training applications). Meanwhile J250 is your cross country cruiser with room for all your gear and able to cruise easily at SP/LSA’s 120-knot speed limit.