Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Top 20 LSA
Celebrating quality, innovation and endurance
The rainbow of LSA designs never fails to delight: tricycle and taildragger models, floatplanes, seaplanes, fabulous motorgliders and flying cars...talk about an oasis in an economic desert. In the year since our last Buyer's Guide, 12 new S-LSA have earned ASTM approval: That's 123 in all. As noted, a few have ceased production. Remarkably, most manufacturers soldier on—no major shakeout yet—albeit many companies and dealers have tightened their belts.
New models loom, such as the purpose-built, all-composite Alpha Trainer from Slovenian up-and-comer Pipistrel, a 25-year-old company that certified four distinct S-LSA in 2011—and won the NASA CAFE Green Flight Challenge with a one-off, all-electric aircraft for good measure. The Alpha Trainer is slated for first delivery in April 2012.
As in previous guides, we'll cherry-pick from the top 20 list of FAA LSA registrations. These roughly quarterly reports, compiled and reported by Jan Fridrich for Dan Johnson's info-crammed website (www.bydanjohnson.com), give us a reasonable, untainted snapshot of who's actually delivering airplanes. As before, the top 20 models on that list represent the lion's share of U.S. sales: 87.5% of all registered S-LSA since April 2005.
This German producer continues to do what it does best: produce, sell and professionally support a stable of top-quality aircraft like the flagship carbon-fiber CTLS and MC metal-built trainer. Flight Design added 17 aircraft to its total 340 registrations, which represents 15% of all U.S. sales. The company also announced a new four-seat airplane: the C4, aimed at the general aviation market. The company continues to expand and solidify its nationwide network with dozens of service centers. Price: $139,800 (CTLS); $126,980 (CTLS Lite); $99,000 (MC base price).
As predicted, Cessna closed in on first place (second now in total registrations), thanks to its 140 "catch-up" deliveries this year, as its China-based production continues to accelerate. The company lists 188 total Skycatchers, representing 8.5% of all U.S.-registered S-LSA to date. The instrument deck is built around the standard-equipped Garmin G300 multifunction display (MFD), and includes a Garmin SL40 Com radio, Garmin GTX327 Mode C transponder, VFR GPS and 121.5 MHz ELT. Power comes from the Continental 0-200D 100 hp mill. Price: $112,500.
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