Sport Expo: BasicMed's Mixed Effect On LSA Sales
Five years ago, one strain of conventional wisdom predicted that the demise of the Third Class medical would equal the demise of the light sport aircraft market, too. With BasicMed firmly entrenched, the reality is proving more mixed according to an AVweb canvass of the flight line at the Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring this week.
While some manufacturers see a measurable downturn, others report just the opposite and one company that sells both light sport and certified aircraft, CubCrafters, says it’s already sold out through the rest of the year for models in both segments, despite a drop in LSA sales.
“It’s down, I would have to be honest, because of the BasicMed effect. I think it will be until people realize there’s nothing easier than having a private pilot license and exercising sport pilot privileges,” said Tom Peghiny, of Flight Design, which was recently bought out of receivership by a new company in Germany. Others we interviewed said they thought BasicMed had no impact on light sport sales at all. “We haven’t noticed any difference,” said Ed Rinks, whose company imports the Paradise LSA from Brazil.
A couple of vendors we spoke to thought a low price point would give them market resilience and protect against erosion from BasicMed. “I think most of our buyers just don’t want to deal with the bull of any kind of medical,” said Deon Lombard, who imports the Aeropilot Legend 600, a composite LSA from the Czech Republic. Those airplanes are priced at about $100,000, but until recent currency fluctuations, were under that price point. Lou Mancuso brings in another airplane from the Czech Republic, the Bristell NG5. At the show this week, Mancuso said he has already taken a deposit on at least one airplane and that sales appear to be stronger than a year ago.
Yet high-priced models continue to sell well and are, in fact, the market leaders. CubCrafters’ Chip Allen told us that the company’s LSA sales have plunged by 50 percent, but they still can’t build enough airplanes to satisfy demand for the CarbonCub and the new certified XCub introduced last year. Normally, big volume drops like that would tank used values, but the reverse has proven true. “Our entire 2018 production is sold out. We can’t build an airplane for delivery in 2018, so we’re now selling 2019 delivery positions,” Allen said. “So a guy who wants a Carbon Cub now, his only choice is to buy a used airplane, so the used Carbon Cub prices are going up,” Allen said. Like Peghiny, Allen believes the LSA softness is due to BasicMed.