LSA buyers 'waiting' to purchase
Opening morning of the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., was lightly attended and hotel rooms were available at the Sebring Regional Airport’s only hotel, Chateau Elan. At least a half dozen display airplanes didn’t make the opening day, stopped by weather along a front blocking Florida off from the rest of the nation.
Phil Solomon of Tecnam described the state of the current light sport aircraft market as “waiting.” His remarks came during the preparation of a pilot report on the Tecnam P92 Tail Dragger aircraft. You’ll see the report in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot along with a future report on the Searey amphibian airplane, 500 of which are now flying. The aircraft was just approved as a light sport aircraft, meaning you no longer have to assemble the kit. One owner plans to crate his Searey and reassemble it in the Antarctic for exploration—part of a lifelong interest in travel.
Before the show, readers sent emails asking for specific information from the show. One wanted to know which of the nearly 130 aircraft (seven are out of production) have American-built engines. Continental and Lycoming both offer specially designed engines for the LSA market, and here are the aircraft which use them: the Continental engine is found on the Cubcrafters Sport Cub, the Cessna Skycatcher, and the American Legend Cub. Sales of the Skycatcher were reported by one dealer to be slow. Companies using the Lycoming LSA engine include American Legend Cub, Brumby Aircraft of Australia 600/610, Bushwhacker Aircraft Cub, Flying Circus Aircraft Vegas, Kitfox Super Sport 7, Ran’s Aircraft S-19, Tecnam P92 Eaglet and Tail Dragger, Zenith STOL CH750, Zlin Savage Cub/Bobber, Renegade Light Sport (Falcon and FK12), and Morgan AeroWorks Cougar.
Of those, Brumby, Bushwhacker, Morgan AeroWorks and Flying Circus were not listed as exhibiting at Sebring. Cessna Aircraft, previously the company with the largest exhibit at the Sebring show, did not exhibit this year. Another company with a large presence in past years, Remos, did not exhibit in Sebring, although a dealer was expected to represent the company. A new model for the Remos did not arrive in time for the show.
Readers also asked which of the light sport aircraft cost less than $85,000. Those seen at the show during a brief survey include the Aerotrek, the Zenith STOL CH 750, and the Zlin Savage and Bobber models that resemble a Piper Cub. A new Tecnam model did not get shipped from Italy in time for the Sebring show.
Even as the LSA industry waits for the market to improve, new companies are entering the arena. One of those is Light Sport America headed by Phil McCoy who has purchased ATR StormAircraft. He expects to relocate the assets of the Tunisia-based company to Bartow, Fla., including six aircraft in various stages of completion. The company moved to Tunisia from Italy. McCoy hopes to travel to the country in February and return the tooling and assets to Florida in February. He exhibited the Storm Rally at Sebring, and has plans for a light twin-engine aircraft and other models.
Light Sport America will offer four Storm models—the all-composite Storm Rally, Rally Amphibious, the all-metal Century with tricycle gear, and the Century tailwheel model. Both the Rally and Century models are priced from $99,000 to $117,000 depending on options and avionics.
In addition to the Rally and Century models, LSA will also offer several Storm kits, including the Fury, Fury RG, and 400.
January 18, 2013