Rotax Reaches Out to Customers During Company Fly-In

Engine supplier to light sport, ultralight, and home-built aircraft marks decades of product development.

Light sport aircraft assemble at the Rotax fly-in in Austria. [Courtesy: Rotax].

BRP-Rotax, the Austrian manufacturer of engines that have become the standard for ultralight and light-sport aviation, held a fly-in last weekend in Gunskirchen, Austria, to promote networking among its suppliers, customers, and the wider aviation community.

The company, which is a unit of powersports manufacturer Bombardier Recreational Products, said more than 100 people attended the event held at an airfield in Wels, Austria, despite cloudy weather that was not ideal. The gathering marked an opportunity to look back at the evolution of Rotax engines over several decades, especially for use in aircraft.

“With more than 190,000 engines sold and a global operating four-stroke-fleet of more than 50,000 engines, Rotax aircraft engines lead the light sport and ultralight aircraft market, “ the company said.

Rotax says it offers a worldwide network of 16 authorized distributors and more than 220 sales and service locations that support manufacturers producing more than 400 aircraft models powered by Rotax engines. Such figures confirm the company’s dominance in its market segment, Rotax said.

The Ultralight Evolution

People who became interested in ultralight aircraft during the 1970s and ’80s would be familiar with Rotax’s two-stroke snowmobile and other powersports engines that hobbyists adapted for aircraft use.

When I was growing up in New Jersey during that period, the sight and sound of kite-like ultralights buzzing above farm fields was common in rural parts of the state. A few friends from my radio-controlled model airplane club got into ultralights and would occasionally land at our flying field. Regulation was loose back then.

Graduating to ultralights seemed like a natural but dangerous progression for model-airplane enthusiasts and it worried my parents to no end, especially after a club member broke a few bones during a botched landing. They sought assurances that I would never try anything so risky. I have yet to fly an ultralight, but I understand their appeal.

Today’s more sophisticated ultralights and the development of light sport aircraft have helped to push Rotax into a dominant position in those markets, where the company and other industry watchers estimate its share at as much as 80 percent. Meanwhile the reliability of Rotax engines has helped make those aircraft categories more popular.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter