Cessna is telling 162 Skycatcher position holders that their order will be delayed six to 10 months because of design changes that resulted from the flight test program. “We did find a few things during our flight tests,” Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver told AVweb. Most of the changes were needed to fix spin-recovery issues. Cessna lost two aircraft to unrecoverable spins, although the pilot in each instance was uninjured. Oliver said the rudder needs more surface area and the elevator and aileron travel needs to be decreased on each aircraft and that work is currently being done after the aircraft are finished by the factory in China. Eventually, the design changes will be integrated into primary production but in the meantime it’s causing delays as Yingling Aviation, which is reassembling the crated aircraft in Wichita, makes the modifications.
Oliver said all the computer modeling and wind tunnel testing each Cessna design undergoes can’t precisely duplicate real-world conditions. “It is important to remember that these aircraft, as with all Cessna aircraft, are designed to be in service for decades, so we prefer to take a little extra time now to ensure its long-term success,” Oliver said. Cessna has the first production model Skycatcher on display at the Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., which starts Thursday. The first Skycatcher is owned by Rose Pelton, the wife of Cessna CEO Jack Pelton, and she’s currently pursuing her sport pilot certificate in the aircraft. And yes, this one has the mods….