After a year of test flying a prototype and gathering data, Cessna Aircraft Co. officials have decided to go ahead with the company’s Light Sport Aircraft program.
“After conducting extensive market research, it is clear to us there is a great need for this aircraft as we strive to drive down the cost of flying and learning to fly,” said Jack Pelton, chairman, president and CEO. “We believe this aircraft will make a major contribution to stimulating new pilot starts and will encourage already-licensed pilots to continue to fly because it will be more affordable.
“We have developed a business case that makes sense,” he continued. “We have incorporated several innovative features into the design and we believe we can deliver the finest aircraft in the category, combined with our extensive customer service, flight training and distribution networks, at an attractive price.”
Details of the program will be revealed during AirVenture later this month, he promised.
AirVenture 2007 will mark the second appearance at Oshkosh of Cessna’s LSA, called the “Sport.” Last year a proof-of-concept model was displayed on a pedestal inside a pen. Visitors were surveyed about the design during the show.
The Cessna LSA is a high-wing design, but company officials are quick to point out that it is not a reworked Cessna 150. According to Pelton, he challenged the company’s designers and engineers to come up with a new LSA design.
“And 10 weeks later they’ve got one and are asking, ‘okay, now what do you want this to do?'” he recalled.
Pelton stressed that the Sport does have the benefits of more than 80 years of engineering when it comes to single-engine piston aircraft, but it was designed specifically for the Sport Pilot. The challenge, he noted, is bringing the aircraft to market at a price that pilots will support while simultaneously meeting the LSA weight restriction of 1,320 lbs.
The company used a Rotax 912 on the proof-of-concept aircraft, but Cessna officials have been quick to stress that a final decision on the powerplant has not yet been made.
Pelton noted that finding an engine that performs well, yet does not take the aircraft over the LSA weight limit, is difficult. Rumors abound that the final choice will come from Continental or Lycoming.
The cockpit is reminiscent of the Cessna 120 and 140 in terms of instrumentation.
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