Guest ROM Posted September 10, 2008 Share Posted September 10, 2008 Well it looks like the UL /LSA movement is going through the usual growing up pains that any technologically based industry seems to have to go through to sort out the survivors. The automotive and aviation industries following both the first and second world wars saw an extraordinary number of new designs and wannabee major corporations. The consumer Electronics and Internet in the 1980's and 1990's also followed the same pattern with dozens of new companies and new designs coming onto the market for a short while. All of these periods were quickly followed by the demise or consolidation of a whole host of small wannabee companies into a few large and then ultimately only a handful of major global players. In personal aviation over the last 50 years think Cessna and Piper. In the Internet, which is still sorting itself out, think Microsoft, Apple, Google and etc. In the automotive industry think GM and Ford with Toyota the upstart that has muscled in. An industry following it's consolidation phase into a few major players becomes conservative, staid and starts to look at the bottom line more than it's need to keep on innovating. An industry dominated by a few huge, slow reacting corporations also develops a hubris that says that what it has is the best and believes that there is no need to drastically innovate to hold it's position in the market. Then along comes a period of revolutionary change and the big dominant corporations very rarely have either the psychology in their top ranks or the products to be prepared for the revolution. Often such a revolution is a direct response to the conservative boringness of the dominant corporations. In aviation it was the rise of the Ultralight movement and then the formalization of this movement in the LSA criteria which has provided a set of legal and customer required characteristics that wannabee aircraft designers and manufacturers can work to with the knowledge that there designs will be accepted word wide if they meet the criteria. This relatively rapid development has caught the big personal aircraft aviation manufacturing corporations totally flat footed. They are now frantically trying to get in on the act but they now have to contend with a whole host of new comers and some very innovative technologically advanced designs that they, the corporations in their ponderous fashion, have no hope of matching in the near future. Unfortunately in a period of rapid change and the rise of new players in a changing industry, the best designs rarely come out on top. The leadership, the marketing, the structure and the financing and finally, quite often a distant last, the technology that the company is supposedly based on, are what ultimately takes a company to the top of the heap for the next round of company / corporation consolidation. Think Microsoft whose DOS operating system was far inferior to a lot of other wannabee computer software designs in the 1980's but MS got to the top by a combination of innovative marketing and being totally ruthless. So it will be with the LSA aviation industries. There are a huge number of new designs for LSA spec'ed aircraft being announced. Some are even coming onto the market. Most will disappear again in a few years as some already have. Some will be bought out by other players. The best designs will probably not survive as they will probably be just too costly, too sophisticated, poorly marketed or poorly financed and poorly organised and run companies to survive the dog eat dog aviation business environment. Any one of these is enough to sink a promising design unless it is taken over by another better organised player. There will be many, many very well designed and some not so well designed LSA and ultralight aircraft that will be bought by pilots the world over during the next few years which will become orphan designs as their manufacturers and designers go out of business or depart for more lucrative life styles. Will Cessna and Piper survive in their present form? I doubt it! The personal aviation world has changed forever with the advent of the closely defined LSA category and other changes in personal aviation that are still to happen in the future and Cessna and Piper were left standing and are now trying to catch up. In another 20 or 25 years time, many may be asking, what happened to Cessna and Piper, the same as they are now asking, what happened to GM, the world's biggest manufacturing company, and Ford, that they are slowly going broke. In suggesting that Cessna and Piper may not be around in their present form in 20 or so years time, it is a fact that the average life of a major corporation in the USA is 40 years. My personal philosphy is that when a corporation [ or an individual ] seems to be on completely on top and in an unassailable position as long as can be seen into the future, start looking for the white ants in the foundations. They will be there and they will be very busy! Unfortunately another factor, bureaucracy, has the inbuilt tendency for a mindless domination that will over the next couple of decades, slowly strangle the Light Sport aircraft concept, destroying the ability of small aviation enterprises to innovate and speeding the consolidation of sport aviation into a few large corporations. Then sport aviation will, like GA before it, be stuck with tiny choice of safe but extremely boring and conservative and expensive aircraft designs from a handful of ultra conservative manufacturers. And the cycle will start all over again! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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