Industry News

September 2007 Issue

Oshkosh Diary: A Watershed Year

With more new airplanes and product intros than we’ve ever seen and LSA booming, the industry may be poised for a genuine renaissance.

If Oshkosh is to airplane companies what Wall Street is to investors, the mood in the world of general aviation is upbeat bordering on ebullient. At EAA AirVenture 2007 we saw a bumper crop of new product introductions—major and minor—at a well-attended show that may signal a turning point of sorts. That’s especially true for the emerging Light Sport Aircraft category, thanks to both Cessna and Cirrus announcing full-blown LSA programs which send the unmistakable message that they finally take this idea seriously. There were lots of hey-did-ya-see-that moments at AirVenture, but the biggest came from Eclipse, which flew in an intriguing single-engine "concept" personal jet that it claimed to have built in about 200 days in an off-site skunk works in Virginia. We weren’t entirely surprised by this, given persistent rumors of Eclipse’s plans before the show. But the fact that Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn actually taxied the thing up to the Eclipse exhibition was a stunner that we’re sure got the attention of Diamond, Cirrus and Piper, all of whom are toiling away on single-engine jets of their own.

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