Sales Continue to Struggle at U.S. Sport Aviation Expo

At this year’s show, the organizers moved things around a bit and now have an expansive hangar for vendors instead of the tents used in previous years. They’ve also moved the food booths and other services closer to show center, making for less walking. However, as the 2013 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo opened in Sebring, Fla., on Thursday, the industry as a whole still isn’t finding healthy sales.

Sport Expo expects about 20,000 attendees at the Sebring show and it continues to be an important venue for some manufacturers who’ve been able to reliably mine sales leads from would-be customers who come to Florida ready to kick the tires one last time before pulling the sales trigger.

John Calla of Adventure Sport Aviation said “We had a buyer come down from Michigan just to see the airplane and make a final decision,” he continued “Some buyers just have to see it, and see it again and see it one more time and then they’ve got to have it,”  The Bristell is a low-wing design that claims the largest cabin size in the field. and the aircraft can accept up to 130 horsepower. That makes it quick, but it doesn’t quite provide the power-to-weight ratio of the reigning hotrod, CubCrafters’ popular Carbon Cub. CubCrafters told AVweb that it’s now rolling a new airplane out of the Yakima, Wash., factory about every four days, the strongest sales since 2008.

Meanwhile, Tecnam’s Tommy Grimes told us the company is going in the opposite direction pricewise with a new offering based on the Echo Lite. It will sell for about $75,000, Grimes said. Like everyone else, Grimes said, Tecnam is still searching for a potential price sweet spot and things a sub-$100,000 LSA is worth trying. As reported in our video, Tecnam was also showing off something some would-be LSA buyers will love: air conditioning in a light sport. The 23-pound FlyCool system fits into the tail section of a P2008 with a minimal weight and balance hit. It chills the cabin by about 20 degrees, a welcome capability for owners flying these airplane in the broiling southern tier states.

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