January 28, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
Cessna SkyCatcher customers have learned in a letter from Cessna Aircraft Co. that deliveries will be delayed six to 10 months from promised dates. The factory in Shenyang, China, must be retooled to accommodate changes made to the aircraft to improve spin recovery performance.
“Production ramp up is a complicated process with thousands of parts being fabricated and moved into place for assembly,” said Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver. “The situation was made more complicated by the redesigns resulting from what we learned as a result of the two spin accidents. This airplane is going to be around for decades, and we’d prefer to get it absolutely right rather than rush it into production to save a few months.”
The spin accidents occurred during flight testing. Aircraft built at the factory in Shenyang do not have the modifications to the tail and ailerons. The modifications reduce the aileron-down and elevator-up travel, increase the size of the rudder, and add a ventral fin beneath the tail.
Modifications for the moment are added after the aircraft are shipped back to the United States. Two SkyCatchers will be en route from China in two weeks and will be modified by Cessna. Initially the plan was to deliver 10 aircraft in 2009 and 50 in 2010. Instead, one has been delivered in 2009 and the number for 2010 is not yet determined.
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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