LSA Industry Holding Its Own

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The last year has been a tough one for GA, but Dan Johnson, president of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, said at AirVenture Oshkosh on Wednesday that most of the LSA manufacturers have been weathering the storm. “Our sales numbers are down about 25 percent compared to a year ago, but the GAMA numbers [reported by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association] were down about 50 percent,” he said. There are now 99 different LSA designs that have met ASTM certification standards, and Johnson said he expects Number 100 soon. “But people are asking, where’s the shakeout?” he said — are 100 models too many for the market to support? “The fact is, the top 10 manufacturers account for about 75 percent of sales, and the top 20 are about 90 percent, and many of the others are smaller, niche companies,” Johnson said. In effect, the shakeout has already taken place.

Many of those smaller companies are lean, operating without a lot of overhead, Johnson said, which makes it easier for them to weather the economy’s ups and downs. He added that there seems to be a shift in the LSA market from older buyers who are looking for a smaller or more efficient alternative to their previous airplanes, to more flight schools and more buyers who are new to aviation. He noted that there is no hard data on that, but that is based on his anecdotal experience.

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