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SkyCatcher Crash Update

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The test pilot for the Cessna 162 SkyCatcher LSA prototype that crashed last week was spin-testing the airplane and put it into a cross-controlled, power-on stall, Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver told AVweb this week. "He got into a flat spin and couldn't recover," Oliver said. The airplane, which was one of several used in the test program, remained intact until it hit the ground. The spin testing started at about 10,000 feet, and the pilot bailed out safely at about 5,000 feet above the ground. The kind of testing it was undergoing was beyond what is required for the airplane's intended ASTM light sport aircraft certification, Oliver said. He added that the accident is still under investigation but he doesn't expect the findings will result in any plans to modify the design. The airplane was equipped with a BRS ballistic recovery parachute, which was activated by the test pilot but failed to deploy.

Larry Williams, CEO of BRS, told AVweb this week it is too early to determine exactly why the chute didn't work. "It looks to me that the parameters were pretty exceptional," he said. "It was an unusual situation." He added that BRS is working with Cessna and the NTSB to determine what happened, and he might have more information later in the week. Williams added that the BRS design has proven to be robust across a wide range of situations, but if this event shows that the design could be improved to increase its range of effectiveness, his team is ready and willing to learn and make changes. Oliver, of Cessna, noted that the BRS system on the accident aircraft was a standard chute and was not a specially designed spin chute, which is sometimes used in flight testing.

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