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Sport Aviation Expo Opens GA Year In Sebring

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It's the first general aviation show of the year, so lots of eyes are on the sixth annual Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., this week, hoping to get a sense of how 2010 will go. The last two months of 2009 were unexpectedly slow, Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, told AVweb on Wednesday, ending the year with LSA registrations overall down about 42 percent from the year before. Weather reports for the weekend look good, and some big news is expected, with an airplane under wraps outside the Piper booth -- this is the first year Piper has appeared at the show, and they are expected to announce on Thursday that they are adding an LSA to their flight line. As of Wednesday, the show grounds were filling up, exhibit space was pretty much sold out, and Johnson said he was hopeful for a strong turnout. "We're hoping to kick off the year with a good start," he said. The show runs Thursday through Sunday.

LSA manufacturers also are anxiously awaiting a couple of reports from the FAA, Johnson said -- one regarding their assessment of how the ASTM process is working out, based on a study completed last year, and also a report regarding the Zodiac LSA, which the FAA mandated to be modified last year due to airworthiness concerns. The FAA is scheduled to be at the show this week, but so far nothing official has been said about whether these reports will be released. EAA and FAA staffers provide free forums focusing on LSA, the sport pilot certificate and related topics such as training and insurance. Exhibitors include manufacturers of LSA aircraft and kits, providers of related components, firms providing training and a variety of other related businesses. Besides fixed-wing LSAs, the show also features trikes, powered parachutes, motor-gliders and gyroplanes that operate under the LSA rules. For all the details and info about flying into the airport, click here.

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