Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Light-Sport Chronicles: The Long View
Taking a broad look at LSA with one of its major players
"This is a very dynamic time for the industry, and for Remos,” Ken Weaver, VP of marketing for Remos Aircraft, told me the other day. We were chatting about the year or two ahead for the LSA industry, and I wanted to know how Remos, which produces the Remos GX S-LSA, sees itself emerging from the economic flat spin that has been so hard on everybody.
Weaver has a broad, deep background in general aviation. He’s a pilot who has worked in Part 23 and 121 OEM operations for 20 years, in various executive sales and marketing positions. He also has worked with numerous U.S. and international airframe manufacturers, including Piper, Mooney and Cessna. Most recently, Weaver served as president of Extra Aircraft.
He joined Remos’ parent company in mid-July of 2009, but he hadn’t been seeking work in the LSA part of GA: “Remos CEO Corvin Huber approached me about a new project involving LSA. Like many pilots, I had preconceived notions about LSA, but after talking with Corvin, visiting the factory in Germany and, of course, flying the GX, I was really impressed! The little plane was roomy and comfortable, and had outstanding visibility, performance, control harmony and responsiveness.
“‘Quality’ was one word that resonated throughout every part of the airplane and organization. It was obvious that a lot of work went into the aerodynamic, aesthetic and systems design. It’s a good-looking plane with balanced lines and attention to detail. It made a lot of sense in terms of ergonomics and ‘switchology,’ something I learned to appreciate while flying turbine aircraft.
“I already knew Corvin,” continued Weaver, “and I met others who had come on board—folks from Dornier, Airbus, Saab and other OEMs. I realized this was an organization that had attracted experienced, high-caliber people who had come based on the merits of the product and the company’s vision.” The management saw a commercial and technology base that could address the new operating and economic environment generated by LSA.
The more Weaver looked into Remos and LSA, the more excited he got. As a longtime pilot, CFI and industry insider, he had been concerned about the rapidly contracting pilot population and GA industry. But Weaver sees LSA and the sport pilot license as a way to reinvigorate the market.
“We believe the GX and LSA in general have the potential to extend and broaden the aviation market, and lower the barrier of entry,” asserted Weaver. “Remos has invested in extensive research, which suggests that there are a lot of nonpilots—300,000 households or more—with the income and interest in having an aviation experience. These are people who want to maximize their leisure time, are interested in personal growth and have, at some point, looked up at the sky, pointed at a plane and said, ‘I’d like to try that some day.’ In a weird way, LSA and the GX in particular are a means to an end.”
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Labels: Aircraft Bargains, Columns, Features, Journeys, LSAs, Shared Ownership, Fractional Ownership, Ownership, Pilot Talk, Aircraft Partnership, Partnership