The FAA says the Cessna 162 Skycatcher LSA prototype “entered an unrecoverable spin” before crashing last Thursday. The pilot of the test aircraft was able to parachute to safety but was unhurt. There was no word what caused the spin but the aircraft was on a test flight. The aircraft was apparently intact after crashing in trees near Douglass, Kansas, about 30 miles from Wichita. More details are expected from Cessna on Monday. Early reports quoted witnesses as saying they heard a loud pop and then saw sparks and the plane spiraling down. The pilot landed in a field about 400 yards from the aircraft. The aircraft involved was the non-conforming prototype and had about 150 hours on it.
The prototype first flew on March 8, and Cessna is planning on delivering the first customer aircraft in the first half of 2009. What the crash does to that schedule is unclear. There are close to 1,000 orders for the aircraft, which will be built in China and reassembled in three plants in the U.S.