Cessna Ramping Up SkyCatcher

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With all its manufacturing and assembly agreements in place, Cessna says it's ready to get down to the nuts and bolts of delivering its 162 Skycatcher to the more than 900 dealers, flight schools and individuals who have ordered them since its production was formally announced last July. At the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., Cessna announced Friday that the first three aircraft, a prototype, first production and test article for standards testing, are under construction and first flight of the type-conforming aircraft is expected before the end of June. Deliveries are expected by late 2009. Although it's taken some flak for the decision to have the aircraft built in China (from American-made components) the company is standing by the decision and promising Cessna-level quality in all aspects of the program. The aircraft will be built in Shenyang, where many subassemblies of Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier aircraft are built, and Cessna Communications Director Bob Stangarone said the company has absolute confidence in the build quality that will result. "When you fly over the Shenyang facility it's like you're flying over Boeing," he said. Though the aircraft will be built in China, plenty of the work will be done in the U.S., according to Cessna press materials.

Cessna also announced the build program, including the final assembly sites. Components and materials will be shipped to Shenyang and the aircraft will be fully assembled, under the supervision of Cessna staff. Each airplane will be test flown and disassembled and returned to the U.S. to be reassembled in one of three contract facilities: Eagle Aviation, of West Columbia, S.C.; Yingling Aviation in Wichita; and Southwest Platinum Aviation in North Las Vegas.

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