Cessna Revises SkyCatcher Design

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Cessna has revised its SkyCatcher design with a new tail, and brought the airplane to last week's Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., to show to potential customers and the press. The new tail surface is bigger and more vertical, and project engineer Neal Wilford told AVweb the new design is now in flight testing and has been performing well. The airplane's aerodynamics got a second look after a spin accident last year, in which the test pilot was unable to regain control and bailed out, and the airplane spun in and crashed. Wind tunnel tests on the new design have shown the airplane has no unrecoverable spin characteristics, says AOPA. Other minor changes include the removal of the dorsal fin, and a switch to aluminum seats to save weight. Wilford told Kitplanes editor Marc Cook at Sebring that the production line at Cessna's factory in China is ready to go and the first copy of the SkyCatcher is already in the works. Once complete, it will be shipped to the U.S. and reassembled here, for first delivery in the second half of this year. Cessna has said it has about 1,000 orders for the airplane, which sells for about $112,000. Click here to see AVweb's exclusive video interview with Wilford and Cook at Sebring.

The cockpit is equipped with a Garmin G300 system. Cessna hopes the airplane will become the standard flight-training aircraft for the next generation of light sport and private pilots.