5:39 PM

A brand new elephant
in the room

O.K., for anyone out there still on the fence about whether there is a market emerging for Light Sport Aircraft, this ought to push you right over the edge:

Cessna Aircraft Company announced today it is studying the feasibility of developing and producing a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). The company plans to display a full scale proof-of-concept aircraft during a press conference on July 24th at this year’s EAA AirVenture next month in Oshkosh, Wis.
Cessna calls the newly-emerging Light Sport Aircraft category “the highest growth sector” of general aviation. Light Sport Aircraft are defined as having a maximum gross weight of 1320 pounds, maximum level-flight speed of 120 knots, and no more than two seats.

In a news release, Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack Pelton said this:
“As the world’s largest producer of single engine piston airplanes, we believe we could bring unique capabilities to this exciting market. Our extensive sales and service network could provide an important market advantage, which, in concert with our design and manufacturing experience, could make this an attractive extension of our product line.”
Pelton said the company will “evaluate a spectrum of issues associated with entering the sector” to determine if there is a favorable business case.

Who are they kidding? Cessna wouldn’t be holding a major press show to debut a proof-of-concept LSA unless they had already noodled this through to the end. And that “end” is an assembly line in Independence, KS cranking out cute little Cessna-branded LSA’s at a rapid clip.

What would a Cessna LSA look like? A re-hashed 150? A mini-172? Nope. One possibility could be a completely new design, a composite beauty that whispers of the new direction that has been rumored for Cessna. If they are indeed heading towards composites for their single engine line, this is the logical first step.

Pelton continues:
“An important part of our thought process in looking at LSA is the value in terms of new pilot starts. Experience has shown that Cessna brand loyalty is a powerful force in our success, and we believe this new category of aircraft could provide a conduit for new pilots to grow through the Cessna product line in the years ahead.”
If there already wasn’t enough great reasons to be at Airventure this year, now you have a big one. The stock of LSA just went WAY up, and the buzz ought to be deafening at OSH. Am I ever glad I don’t own one of the many startup aircraft manufacturers who have poured zillions into developing and certifying a whole fleet of new LSAs.

In one press release today, Cessna has changed everything in the LSA market.

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