The Great Recession was the pits … for nearly all industries and most employees or small business owners. That’s hardly newsworthy. However, the recovery from the recession — that government economists insist ended years ago — has been a long time coming. For too many out-of-work pilots, that recession lingers with us yet. Fortunately, the aviation economy appears to be improving. Although registrations didn’t show it for 2013, the year provided more sales for sellers if not more airplanes for their customers. Now, the hope is that airplanes will emerge from factories faster and the general health of the industry will improve, which is good for seller and buyer alike. A couple companies have proof that things are looking up and I’d like to tell you a little about them.
First is South Africa’s The Airplane Factory (TAF) and their rep’, TAF USA, led by Matt Litnaitzky and associate Ryan Ruel. (Matt has also made a reputation by being the importer of and provider for MGL Avionics.) Matt wrote, “[We’ve] been working hard over the last several months to carry kits in stock here in the U.S. and we have finally achieved this goal. We know that some of the biggest deterrents and hold-ups in the kit-building world are the lack of stock kits and long lead times for kit builders. We are determined to have kits and parts available to our builders with very short lead times.” I visited Matt and Ryan more than a year ago at their Torrance, California location when they embarked on an inventory-building exercise and the photo shows their build-up success. “The factory in South Africa is now churning out more than five airplanes per month,” reported Matt, “They are prioritizing shipments to the United States to help us build and carry stock for our customers. We currently have kits on hand and more are on the way after selling several last month.”
TAF is one of at least five LSA producers that is entering the four seat market, in TAF’s case with their Sling 4 (the LSA is Sling 2). So, Matt hastened to add, “We will be receiving Sling 4 kits as well, with the first several coming in just a couple months. We will also be working towards carrying a full stock of accessories and extras for the Sling 2 and Sling 4 kits, not just the airframe subassemblies. We will carry stock upholstery, electrics kits, firewall forward items, and much more, including hardware.” Matt concluded, “We’ve been able to lower our ready-to-fly model lead time to eight weeks meaning we can get you flying faster than ever before. With a handful of builders already well on their way throughout the US and Slings flying on the West Coast we are set for a fast takeoff in 2014!”
Next is No. 1 … that is, the first company ever approved as a Special LSA: Evektor. The Czech company is represented in the USA by Steve Minnich of Dreams Come True and Art Tarola of AB Flight in Pennsylvania. After the Sebring LSA Expo 2014, Steve wrote, “[We] signed orders for delivery of two Harmony LSA airplanes to customers in the USA. Just a week earlier Evektor shipped another two airplanes: two SportStar MAX with Night VFR equipment.” He reported that an IFR-equipped Harmony LSA model comes with Garmin‘s G3X glass cockpit with autopilot. The aircraft, with the normally aspirated Rotax 912S was ordered by a flight training organization from the American Northeast. Evektor has enjoyed a long, beneficial relationship with several American flight school operations. “The second Harmony LSA is equipped with Dynon‘s 10-inch SkyView and integrated autopilot, Evektor’s Night VFR package and the latest Rotax 912iS engine. This aircraft will be used for pilot touring by a private customer. Congratulations to both TAF USA and the Evektor reps; it is great to see our suppliers doing well so they can provide superior services to their customers.