Cessna Thinks SkyCatcher Is a Home Run

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On Sunday morning at EAA AirVenture, Cessna Aircraft revealed more details about its light sport aircraft (LSA), which is now known as the Model 162 SkyCatcher. "For the past year, we have been soliciting feedback from the market on our proof-of-concept aircraft, and the result is an airplane that we believe is the most advanced and innovative in its class," said Cessna President, Chairman and CEO Jack Pelton. The $109,500, aluminum Cessna LSA will sport the Continental O-200D engine, single-screen Garmin G300 avionics, two-blade composite prop, caster nosewheel, adjustable rudder pedals, painted metal interior and gull-wing doors. A significant change from the POC airplane is a constant chord wing, which makes it easier to manufacture. It is expected to cruise at up to 118 knots and have a max range of 470 nm and 15,500-foot service ceiling. Preliminary specifications of the day/night VFR-capable airplane include a 1,320-pound mtow, 490-pound useful load and 24-gallon useful fuel load. A conforming prototype is expected to be flying by next summer, with ASTM certification planned by the end of 2008 and first deliveries in the second half of 2009.

Cessna is taking $10,000 deposits at the show, and Pelton expects many orders from Cessna Pilot Centers (CPCs) since the airplane is targeted toward the training market. EAA is the launch customer for the new Cessna model, with the first production airplane going to the association's Young Eagles program and the second airplane to the EAA Flight Academy. Cessna is working on an FITS-approved SkyCatcher flight-training program for both sport and private-pilot courses.