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Light Sport Counts Up Its Impact

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The president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association says the industry has been underreporting the impact of the LSA sector on aviation as a whole and is remedying that with new numbers. Dan Johnson told AVweb at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., that his group took a conservative approach to reporting LSA numbers by relying solely on completed registrations with the FAA. That, he said, left out whole segments of the industry that are legitimate contributors to its overall contribution. "We've been kind of underreporting the size of the community," he said. In fact, he said, there are about 8,000 light sport aircraft flying in the U.S.

He said the association's previous reporting method ignored weight-shift aircraft, gliders and everything else that wasn't a completed airplane, which by definition has three-axis controls. If the "alternative" types plus all the experimental and LSA-eligible kits that have been completed in the eight years since LSA became a reality are tallied up and added to the two-seat ultralights that found a regulatory home under the new rule, that equals the 8,000. In terms of more immediate impact, Johnson said the more liberal accounting method brings to 383 the number of LSAs added to the fleet in 2012. That's about half the number of single-engine piston aircraft reported by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. He said that means light sport represented a third of the market for single-engine aircraft in terms of the number of airframes. "We think that's a pretty significant number," he said.

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