March 19, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Cessna’s SkyCatcher light sport aircraft, also known as the Cessna 162, crashed March 19 during a flight test 15 to 20 miles northeast of Wichita, Kan., near El Dorado Lake. The pilot was not injured and used the aircraft’s BRS ballistic parachute recovery system to land. The system uses an airframe parachute to float to a landing.
The aircraft previously crashed during a flight test in September 2008. Following that incident, design changes were made to enlarge the vertical stabilizer.
A Cessna representative confirmed the pilot, who rode the aircraft down beneath its parachute, was not injured. There was a report from KansasCW.com that the aircraft came down on top of a fence during landing and flipped over. Late Thursday afternoon the company was gathering details for presentation to FAA investigators. The representative noted that since it was a test aircraft, it was heavily instrumented, something that will aid the investigation.
It was not known if the aircraft was performing flight test maneuvers at the time of the incident. The NTSB indicated to Cessna officials that it would not send an inspector. The NTSB along with the FAA is conducting a year-long assessment of the compliance of light sport aircraft with industry-agreed-upon standards.
In a video report made in January 2009 by AOPA Pilot, Cessna SkyCatcher Project Engineer Neal Wilford detailed the changes to the vertical stabilizer and rudder that were made following last year’s spin accident.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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