Popular German LSA Has Bright Future
European light-sport aircraft (LSA) manufacturer Flight Design
of Echterdingen, Germany produced more than 200 of its popular
CT (Composite Technology) aircraft in 2006. The company enjoyed
world-wide deliveries with the US receiving approximately half.
CT number 200 was completed on December 11th and will be
delivered to a customer in Italy.
The company's US importation arm, Flight Design USA, says it
expects deliveries to exceed 100 aircraft for the calendar year.
That's more than double the 45 deliveries of 2005.
Flight Design has experienced rapid growth. In calendar 2005,
the German company recorded worldwide deliveries of 120 aircraft.
Early this year it announced factory expansion and production
capacity increases allowing it to double production for 2006.
The company met Managing Director Matthias Betsch's stated goal
of "deliver[ing] 220 to 240 airplanes in 2006." At approximately
225 for the complete year, his estimate proved highly accurate.
Flight Design's headquarters reside in Germany, but its primary
fabrication plant is a 90,000 square-foot facility in Kherson,
Ukraine. The facility employs 520 people of whom more than 30 are
engineers working in research and development.
The company also handles certain customer service functions in
Ukraine. The facility boasts an education department with more than
40 students contributing to its overall talent resources.
Flight Design says Ukraine is rich in aviation experience and
training, including many who once worked in massive aircraft
factories during the cold war era. Many unemployed, but otherwise
qualified, engineers and experienced factory technicians found jobs
in the hot the LSA market working for Flight Design.
Besides the successful CT, Flight Design also produces about
2,500 paragliders a year at its technical sewing facility.
The company is forecasting more growth in aircraft deliveries
for calendar 2007, especially in the US. In fact, its US allocation
for next year is nearly as large as its total production for 2006.
Company executives say its distributors around the world are
placing advance orders to speed deliveries for customer orders.
Flight Design has been marketing aviation products in Germany
for 20 years. Its CT has been flying in Germany for 10 years and
the company boasts over 700 CT aircraft flying in 25 countries.
One of the first aircraft certified under the American ASTM
standards in 2005, Flight Design claims the CT is the LSA
market leader in the US with more than 20% of all
deliveries since the new segment was first approved 18 months