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September 18, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Last July Cessna SkyCatcher project engineer Neal Willford promised only that the first production Cessna 162, the SkyCatcher, would fly by the end of the year. The first copy of the two-seat trainer beat that by more than two months by flying in China Sept. 17.
The airplane is the first 162 fabricated and assembled on production tooling in Shenyang, China, the main location for SkyCatcher production. The light sport aircraft’s first flight tested handling quality.
“The SkyCatcher program continues to make significant progress, today with the first flight of our very first aircraft produced on production tooling, following closely on the heels of our announcement in July of ASTM compliance for the aircraft,” said Jack J. Pelton, Cessna chairman, president, and CEO. “We are excited about this program and eager for the Model 162 SkyCatcher to take its place in the industry as the light sport aircraft of choice.”
A 100-hp Continental O-2200D powers it. It features a Garmin G300 avionics system. Information appears in a single, split-screen primary flight display and multi-function display, or as two full-screen displays with an optional second screen.
Shenyang Aircraft Company has a long history of military and civil aircraft production. Following shipment to the U.S., the 162s are to be reassembled for delivery at one of three regional locations. Cessna, in association with King Schools, has developed a Web-based training system for sport and private pilot training soon to be available through Cessna Pilot Centers.
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.
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