While the Continental O-200 engine — used in several Light-Sport Aircraft — attains Chinese ownership, Lycoming appears to be making a stronger push to enlist LSA manufacturers. *** One example at Aero 2011 was the upgraded Tecnam Eaglet, which airshow visitors could compare with either Rotax or Lycoming O-233 power. The appearance difference was significant and may test the market for preference for the European Rotax engine that powers 75% or so of all LSA versus the standard bearer Lycoming that has hauled generations of Americans through the skies. *** A major difference is the air-cooled Lycoming versus the liquid-cooled Rotax. Those big fins to cool the Lyc’ demand what one Tecnam rep’ called “power bulges.” The effect on the nose cowl surrounding the engine is dramatic and I’ll bet pilots like one or the other better… which is exactly the point. Tecnam will continue building both so you can — as Burger King puts it — “have it your way.” *** The company has also upgraded the interior of the Eaglet, launched at Sebring 2009, with a highly finished interior complete with new interior door treatments (photo).
Tecnam US Inc.
Phone: (863) 655-2400Sebring, FL 33870 - USA
61-year-old Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam has a whole fleet of LSA and general category aircraft at the show, serving notice they’re here to stay. *** At a reception tonight, U.S. Distributor Heart of Virginia and the Tecnam executive team, lead by CEO Phil Solomon, made a bold prediction: they intend the company to be the top-selling LSA maker by 2014. *** Everybody was drooling over the P2008 LSA so I asked Phil to educate me on the gorgeous high winger. *** “It blends a metal wing and Tecnam’s traditional expertise in building metal aircraft with a composite fuselage. The idea was to make the best possible plane they could along with the strength and lightness of carbon fiber. It’s also clear that people are getting larger around the world, so there’s definitely a premium on a wider aircraft. People wanted more luggage space too, and more luxury.” *** “That’s really what Tecnam is trying to address with the P2008: a top-of-the-range, ultimate LSA.
Tecnam can lay claim to being the “largest LSA manufacturer” by virtue of producing more than 3,000 ready-to-fly aircraft (with approximately 120 of them flying in the USA as “official LSA” — the U.S. is a relatively new market for the Italian company). In my travels to Europe and other countries, I’ve seen a lot of Tecnam models sold under the rules of those nations. And the company was formed back in 1948. *** But even with all those aircraft built and many interesting designs — such as the Echo Super, Sierra, Bravo, Eaglet, and even a new twin that isn’t a LSA — for my money, the P2008 is easily the prettiest two seater the company has ever designed. It resulted from a marriage of Tecnam, an all-metal airplane company, to Spain’s CAG or Composite Aeronautic Group. The latter, bought by Tecnam, was the short-time producer of the Toxo Sportster *, a handsome all-composite LSA.
Viewed from the LSA Mall, AirVenture 2009 was much more than the summer’s big celebration of flight. Several important events tell a story of growing acceptance of LSA. Here’s a short list: LAMA hosted a meeting of G10 (the 10 largest LSA producers) and another of G5, while paying visits to every LAMA member in attendance. *** At the G10 meeting and again at LAMA’s press conference, Avemco president Jim Lauerman detailed his company’s support (in writing) for LAMA’s audit activities. His expressions were corroborated by Falcon Insurance VP Bob Mackey. *** Earl Lawrence, VP of government relations for EAA, brought brand new FAA administrator Randy Babbitt to the LSA Mall, where he met with presidents of LSA companies: Flight Design, Tecnam, Remos, and IndUS. *** At AOPA’s invitation, LAMA arranged a meeting for several LSA industry leaders with new AOPA president Craig Fuller.
We continue to see the effects of the last year of economic turmoil in Light-Sport Aircraft market shares. The chart accompanying this SPLOG tells the numbers as always presented, with total market share since the first deliveries in 2005 based on carefully-reviewed FAA registration data. The top twenty (of 70 total) producers still represent almost 90% of total SLSA registrations. For the record… registrations on FAA’s database are not the same as sales. Aircraft can be registered and not sold. Aircraft can be identified as sold yet no longer registered, for example, if removed from service due to a non-repairable crash. To get some idea of the work my associate Jan Fridrich does to collect this information, go look for yourself at FAA’s database. *** Remos continues its solid 2008 performance despite the troubled economy. In the 16-month period since January 1, 2008 the German brand is the leader with 73 units registered, followed by familiar names, in order: Flight Design 62; Tecnam 49; Czech Aircraft Works (see below) 44; Jabiru 32; American Legend 27; AMD 23; CubCrafters 22; Aeropro 14, plus Evektor and TL Ultralight at 12 each.
Tecnam has long been known for building handsome, well-flying, all-metal Light-Sport Aircraft. The company has certified four models of SLSA (Echo Super, Sierra, Bravo, and Eaglet) tying them for the most. That will soon change and the 61-year-old Italian company formed in 1948 — once the producer of the Partenavia twin-engine aircraft — will soon climb to the top with five approved LSA models. *** The newest, unveiled at the German Aero show, is the P2008. The sleek and beautiful aircraft was conceived after the company bought Composite Aircraft Group, the designer and builder of the Toxo. When Tecnam took possession of this Spanish company, they acquired CAG’s composite technology and the P2008 is the first full airframe to show the results of this purchase. *** P2008 has metal wings like all Tecnam LSA, but it now features a smoothly contoured fuselage.
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%).
At Oshkosh, FAA held a meeting to announce their LSA Assessment Project. The agency that gave birth to Light-Sport Aircraft in the summer of 2004 is now embarking on a fact-finding tour they say will judge the “health of the industry,” part of their “aviation safety oversight.” Sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? However, officials also stated clearly and repeatedly, “What this assessment and evaluation is not is an individual Light-Sport manufacturer’s compliance audit.” *** Indeed, Terry Chasteen, the new head LSA man in the Small Aircraft Directorate characterized the day-long visits by two teams of two inspectors as benign. He’ll be joined by Tom Gunnarson, former president of LAMA now with the LSA office. The visits started this week at Tecnam’s U.S. quarters; AMD, Aircraft Manufacturing and Design; Fantasy Air USA / LSA America; and P&M Aviation USA.
Through the first six months of 2008, Light-Sport Aircraft deliveries have reflected the same challenges afflicting the rest of general or sport aviation…and for that matter, the overall U.S. economy. In fact, LSA registrations aren’t off as badly as are GA deliveries, perhaps due to significantly better fuel economy in an LSA. These FAA registrations can be analyzed to show trends. *** In the first half of 2008, the LSA industry registered 248 aircraft, which is 22% of all registrations from April 2005 through December 2007 (1,118). Many find it interesting to observe how market leaders compare. If a supplier registered less than 22% of their fleet in 2008, they slipped in market share (even if they registered more total airplanes). If they exceeded that figure, they gained market share. In the first half of 2008 gainers included: Remos up 62%; Czech Aircraft Works 47%; FPNA 45%; Gobosh 38%; Tecnam 35%; Aeropro 32%; and AMD 28%.
Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam, simply “Tecnam” to Americans, manufactures the Sierra, Bravo, Echo Super, and Eaglet SLSA. On June 10th the Italian company completed its purchase of Composite Aeronautic Group (CAG). U.S. pilots became aware of CAG’s Toxo after it won SLSA airworthiness in March 2008. *** Tecnam CEO Paolo Pascale Langer explained, “Although Tecnam is expanding capacity due to significant growth we still require more space along with enhanced access to additional technologies. CAG provided both.” *** Tecnam plans to use CAG’s Zaragoza, Spain facility to double their current production of two seat aircraft. They claim annual output of 300 light single engine aircraft per year. The company hopes to boost that figure to 600 aircraft per year by the end of 2009. *** Tecnam has been focused on their dual Rotax engine airplane, the P2006T.
SEBRING 2008 UPDATE — U.S. rep’ Lynne Birmingham beamed, “The Eaglet has landed!” She referred to the newest Tecnam model to win SLSA approval — the fourth model from the Italian manufacturer. Eaglet makes its worldwide debut at Sebring 2008, which opens today. Tecnam has achieved an enviable #4 rank in the U.S. Light-Sport Aircraft fleet. And around the world, Tecnam, a six-decade-old Italian company, has more than 2,100 aircraft flying making it arguably the largest producer of this class of airplane. *** Mike Birmingham reports the new Eaglet is a blend of the best qualities of the strutted Echo Super and the cantilevered Bravo; Eaglet is strutted. It has a new look with resculpted wing root and larger door windows to allow better lateral visibility plus longer, more comfortable seat cushions. The new model sports a redesigned instrument panel that will appear in other models later.
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.
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).