Oshkosh visitors are breezing right by sleek Citations and rugged Stationairs at the Cessna booth, beating feet to get a look at the first production SkyCatcher light sport airplane. The Model 162 SkyCatcher includes a production interior. Since the launch of the perky LSA last year, Cessna has taken orders for more than 1,000 SkyCatchers and completed three airframes for the program’s development.
The 162 prototype and the first production aircraft have accumulated more than 90 hours for ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) flight testing, which will be completed later this year. Beyond flight testing, design of the production assembly jigs and tooling by China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation is progressing rapidly. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the second half of 2009. At full-rate production, Cessna plans to produce up to 700 SkyCatchers a year.
Priced at $111,500 in 2007 dollars, the 162 is expected to cruise at speeds up to 118 knots with a maximum range of 470 nautical miles. The aircraft will feature a Garmin G300 avionics system. Information is presented in a single, split-screen primary flight display and multifunction display, or as two full-screen displays with an optional second screen. The aircraft will be capable of day and night VFR operations.
Preliminary design parameters for the SkyCatcher include a maximum gross weight of 1,320 pounds, a service ceiling of 15,500 feet, a useful load of 490 pounds, and a usable fuel capacity of 24 gallons. It has a cabin width at shoulder height of more than 44 inches, equaling that of the much-larger six-place Cessna 206 Stationair. It features two top-hinged cabin entry doors and forward pivoting seats giving access to a baggage compartment.