By Alton K. Marsh
Sebring, Fla.—Cessna Aircraft Company and Cirrus Design provided updates on their new light sport versions while new models were announced by a half-dozen manufacturers at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo. Most of the new models range in cost from $110,000 to $130,000 when equipped with the most oft-requested customer options.
Cessna officials said their SkyCatcher 162 light sport aircraft will be reassembled at three locations in the United States after initial work in Shenyang, China. They are: Eagle Aviation in West Columbia, S.C.; Yingling Aviation in Wichita, Kan.; and Southwest Platinum Aviation in North Las Vegas, Nev. Cessna will ship the SkyCatcher’s American-made engine and avionics, along with raw materials, to Shenyang for assembly by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation. Cessna officials will be in permanent residence in Shenyang to advise during the manufacturing process. The first flight of the 162 prototype is expected in a few months. At its peak production of 700 aircraft per year, SkyCatcher revenues will amount to slightly more than 1 percent of all Cessna revenues. Cessna is more concerned about growing the pilot population than making money.
Cirrus Design is taking $5,000 deposits on its Cirrus SRS on its Web site. Deposits for manufacturing slots were previously open to Cirrus customers. Fleet sales director John Gauch said the Cirrus SRS, to be based on the FK Lightplanes FK 14 low-wing aircraft, will cost between $110,000 and $120,000. It will have tricycle gear—although the FK 14 presently is a tailwheel aircraft—and have a ballistic recovery parachute, castoring nosewheel, toe brakes, flaps, and moveable rudder pedals. At present, Cirrus Design engineers and FK Lightplanes are working out the details as to which portions of the aircraft are unique to the Cirrus model and which will continue to be owned by FK Lightplanes. The tailwheel FK 14 is already available in Europe.
New aircraft seen for the first time include the Flight Design CTLS, the Tecnam P92 Eaglet, the Jabiru J230 SP (sport pilot), and the Gobosh G-800. Many are aimed at capturing the trainer market, also a goal for Cessna and Cirrus. None of the models listed below were flown by us, and information is from company officials.
The Flight Design CTLS now offers composite main landing gear instead of the stiff aluminum rod used on previous models. The stiff aluminum rods meant the main gear was less forgiving. Earlier models are still offered. The fuselage is 14 inches longer than the earlier CTSW (short wing), allowing room in the cockpit for a shelf behind the molded seats. There are 16 orders for the glass-cockpit aircraft, and most go out the door after options are added at a total of $131,000. Only glass cockpits are offered.
The Tecnam Eaglet is clearly aimed at the trainer market and can be used for either sport pilot or private pilot training, and usually goes out the door at $116,500 when the most normally requested options are added. It is all aluminum and offers toe brakes, strobes, navigation lights, an upgraded interior, a sleeker profile that also improves visibility, and a tall stance with wide doors to ease entry.
The J230 SP is priced at $117,000 for most orders and features a new wing that smoothes the ride in rough air. It also has a more responsive roll rate than previous models, and greater elevator authority during landing, company officials said. The cruise speed is claimed to be 118 KTAS. There are three doors, since the model was derived from a previous four-place kit model. Light sport aircraft may only carry two passengers, so the rear of the J230 has become by default a large cargo area.
The Gobosh G-800 features a glass cockpit, a Galaxy GRS ballistic parachute, and wing leading edges that meet the relative wind at three different angles. It has a 600-pound useful load and a 390-pound payload with full fuel of 30 gallons. The composite low-wing aircraft most often goes out the door at $123,500, and is powered by a Rotax 912 ULS engine.
January 17, 2008