Ian Twombly

Will LSA survive?

June 4, 2008 by Ian J. Twombly, Associate Editor

You could easily write a thesis on whether or not the LSA market will survive. Heck, I’m sure some eager grad student is doing that very thing right now at Embry-Riddle or UND. I’m not one to make broad statements proclaiming things like the death of an entire market segment, but there are always clues that lead us to the answer.

In the case of light sport aircraft, some of those clues are hard to distinguish between the experiments of a fledgling new enterprise and the last gasps of a dying market. Conventional wisdom would say that with such a new venture, chances are that things like modest sales numbers and wacky airplane designs (some very questionable) are indications that everyone is simply testing the waters. One unique idea came through the PR file today that is pretty telling. It’s from the US Aviation Group in Denton, Texas. If you’re unfamiliar, the US Aviation Group is a small company in a small town that has diversified itself to offer sales, training, maintenance, and pretty much everything else LSA. It also works on more “normal” certified airplanes.

The company is starting a new promotion where if you buy an airplane, you’ll get your sport pilot certificate for free. It’s an interesting promotion that speaks to both the newness of the certificate, and the appeal to non-pilots. I can’t image Mooney or Piper offering a free certificate with an airplane purchase.

So will LSA survive? Who knows? One thing is clear. The airplanes are pretty expensive right now. We need a used market.

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