LSA Manufacturers Looking For An Upturn

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"Calls and emails and interest are all picking up," said Dan Johnson, chairman of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association at Sun 'n Fun on Wednesday, "but sales are still very slow so far in 2010." Like the rest of the industry, the LSA manufacturers saw a sales slump in 2009, though with a drop of 42 percent it was less severe than the downturn for regular piston airplanes. But although there is no big surge in sales yet, the LSA Mall here at Sun 'n Fun is full, with 18 airplanes on display. Interest in the aircraft continues to be high around the world. At the recent Aero general aviation show in Europe, LSA manufacturers from the continent banded together to form their own industry group, LAMA-EU. They will address issues of concern to European aviators, and also work with other international groups toward the creation of one LSA standard for the global market, Johnson said.

Johnson also noted that while LSA prices have been higher than many had hoped when the segment launched, much of the rise was due to the changing exchange rate between the U.S. and the European Union, where most of the LSAs are built. But he said there is a wide range of price points available, and cited aircraft starting at $28,000, for a ready-to-fly trike, to $59,995 for an X-Air LS, $85,900 for a Jabiru J170, and $93,000 for the Lightning LS-1.