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Cessna puts new tail on SkyCatcherCessna puts new tail on SkyCatcher

Following the loss of a prototype Cessna SkyCatcher light sport aircraft last year, Cessna has increased the size of the tail and reduced its rearward sweep, giving the aircraft a slightly different look. The pilot in the accident safely landed by parachute.

Wind tunnel tests using a vertical tunnel facility in Germany have confirmed the SkyCatcher now has no unrecoverable spin characteristics. The larger-tail design first flew Dec. 15, 2008, according to Neal Wilford, project engineer on the SkyCatcher. Deliveries are scheduled to begin the last half of 2009. The first aircraft assembly at Shenyang Aircraft Corp. in Shenyang, China, will take place between April and June.

Cessna Aircraft personnel showed up in force at the late January U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., where representatives were ready to sell the entire line of Cessna aircraft. A SkyCatcher mockup was on display along with a semi-trailer that opens into a marketing suite with a flight simulator and product videos.

The dorsal fin on the bottom of the tail contributed nothing to overall stability once the vertical stabilizer was enlarged, so it was removed to save weight. The seat was changed from a composite to an aluminum design, since aluminum was lighter and more durable than composite material, and easier to repair. The latest testing shows the aircraft stalls at 44 knots indicated airspeed with flaps up and 40 knots with flaps down.

There are now more than 1,000 orders for the $111,500 aircraft, and the earliest available delivery date for new orders is 2012. The panel contains a Garmin G300 single-screen display and a TruTrak autopilot. Night lighting is standard. The aircraft can be used for sport and private pilot instruction.

Alton Marsh

Alton K. Marsh

Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.

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