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Cessna SkyCatcher prototype approaching first flight

Jan. 18, 2008, Sebring, FLA- Cessna Aircraft Co. is gearing up for the first flight of its Model 162 SkyCatcher prototype in the coming months.


January 18, 2008
By Carey Fredericks

Jan. 18, 2008, Sebring, FLA- Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, is gearing up for the first flight of its Model 162 SkyCatcher prototype in the coming months.

Cessna's engineering team in Wichita, Kan., is building three airframes: prototype, first production and a test article for American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) compliance work. The aluminum aircraft will meet ASTM standard for F2245 light sport aircraft.

Meanwhile, the proof of concept aircraft continues to fly as visual flight rules (VFR) weather permits. After nearly one year of extensive flight evaluations and design modifications, the proof of concept aircraft first flew with the 100-hp Continental O-200 engine on Aug. 17, 2007, just weeks after the program's official launch at the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.

In recent testing, Cessna engineers have been evaluating engine cooling and propeller pitch settings, as well as overall flight characteristics that are targeted to be fun but forgiving, suiting the training and sport flying market for which the SkyCatcher is intended.
Basic design features of the aircraft are in place and Cessna is currently selecting vendors for the SkyCatcher's optional equipment.

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The 162 will cruise at speeds up to 118 knots and will have 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 (PFD) and multi-function display (MFD), or as two full-screen displays with an optional second screen. The aircraft will be capable of day and night, visual flight rules 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 24 gallons of usable fuel. It has a cabin width at shoulder height of 44.25 inches, equaling that of the much-larger, 6-place Cessna 206 Stationair. It features two top-hinged cabin entry doors and forward pivoting seats giving access to a 12.5 cubic-foot baggage compartment. The aircraft will have tricycle landing gear with a castering nose wheel and standard dual toe-actuated disc brakes.

A mockup of the Cessna SkyCatcher is on display from Jan. 17-20 at the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla.