How did LSA fare in the year of fear?

Everyone knows 2020 was arguably the most unusual year in anyone’s recollection. In such a time of global upheaval, how did the light aircraft industry fare?

This report took a bit more time as the effort to begin counting Part 103 ultralights altered our view of the FAA aircraft registration data. Most of you may prefer this simpler report, but the data hounds among readers can drill all the way down to the last aircraft on Tableau Public.

As always, my sincerest thanks goes to our premier datastician Steve Beste. His work is the primary resource for this report. While I deeply appreciated the work done for years by former data guy (and friend) Jan Fridrich, Steve’s career in databases gave him skills that few others possess. Since he’s also “one of us” — a trike owner and pilot — Steve understands what we hope to achieve better than data experts outside affordable aviation.

We believe the following information is the best and most reliable found anywhere in the world. However, any sharp readers who see errors or omissions are encouraged to speak up. We have often benefitted from reader input and welcome any chance to improve our reporting.

Surviving or Thriving?

“Registrations grew by about 4% in 2020, down from 10% growth the year before,” Steve summarized.

Many may be surprised. Registrations grew in 2020!? Indeed, they did, and that’s without counting Part 103 ultralights that do not need to be registered with the FAA. We’ll have lots more on Part 103s in a couple months (the effort continues to contact all 57 producers currently identified).

Other than Part 103 vehicles…

“The market splits into three distinct categories,” according to Steve:

Zenair/Zenith, which registered* almost twice as many aircraft (86) as anyone else in 2020, Followed by the next four companies, each with more than 40 registrations in 2020, And then everyone else.”

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