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Cessna SkyCatcher prototype fliesCessna SkyCatcher prototype flies

Cessna SkyCatcher prototype flies

By Paul Richfield

Cessna’s 162 SkyCatcher prototype flew for the first time on March 8, from Cessna Field to Mid-Continent Airport, both in Wichita, Kan.

With test pilot Dale Bleakney at the controls, the one-hour mission consisted of flight maneuvers to assess the stability and controllability of the new design.

The flying prototype is the first of three airframes to be built in Wichita, Cessna said. The next Cessna 162 to be built is described as the “first production model,” while the third is slated to be an engineering test article.

All SkyCatcher engineering and test work is earmarked for Wichita, although Cessna has contracted with Shenyang Aircraft Corp. to build the light sport aircraft in China.

Cessna said it is committed to going with the 100-hp Continental O-200 engine used in the proof-of-concept aircraft, which debuted last summer at AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.

Cessna CEO Jack Pelton described the SkyCatcher prototype’s first flight as a “significant step toward our goal of bringing an affordable training aircraft to market.”

Priced at $111,500, the SkyCatcher is expected to feature the Garmin G300, a new-generation avionics suite built around a pair of electronic displays. The two-seat aircraft will cruise at 118 nm per hour, Cessna said, and be capable of day and night visual flight rules operations.

March 10, 2008

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