You can add the Cessna SkyCatcher to the list of Light Sport Aircraft manufactured outside the United States.
On Nov. 28 Cessna Aircraft Co. announced it is partnering with Shenyang Aircraft Corp. (SAC) to build the SkyCatcher. SAC is a subsidiary of China Aviation Industry Corp., which is a government-owned consortium of aircraft manufacturers.
“The LSA market demands the latest avionics, safety and reliability, lightweight equipment and a competitive price tag,” said Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack J. Pelton. “Our solution is to partner with SAC, a company with excellent facilities, state-of-the-art technologies and a workforce highly experienced in aircraft manufacturing.”
In an interview with the “Wichita Eagle,” Pelton noted that in order to keep the SkyCatcher’s price low, “a major part of that content has to be built someplace else.”
According to spokesman Bob Stangarone, Cessna looked at companies in Argentina, Australia, China, the Czech Republic, India and Poland to build the aircraft.
The SkyCatcher, also known as the Cessna 162, is a high-wing design built of aluminum. The proof-of-concept airplane was introduced, to favorable response, during EAA AirVenture 2006. Hundreds of orders were placed for the new LSA during AirVenture this year. SkyCatcher orders now stand at about 900. An introductory price of $109,500 will hold for the first 1,000 orders, then increase to $111,500, according to Cessna officials.
Even when it was in the proof-of-concept stage, the SkyCatcher generated a great deal of excitement from the flying crowd at AirVenture. Those who saw it on display this summer remarked that not only does it give the light sport movement extra credibility, but it also provides a viable two-place trainer option to pilots who want to do their training in a modern, two-place Cessna product.
SkyCatchers are slated to start rolling off the assembly line for delivery in 2009.
Cessna will do all of the SkyCatcher design work and handle American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) compliance work, as well as provide on-site personnel to oversee manufacturing, quality assurance and technical design. SAC will be responsible for assembly of the airplane.
Founded in 1951, SAC is a manufacturer of civilian and military aircraft with 16,000 employees. Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Spirit AeroSystems and Singapore Aerospace are just a few of SAC’s clients.
“Through decades of joint production ventures and sub-assembly ventures with the industry’s top manufacturers, SAC has emerged as the premier aircraft enterprise in China,” Pelton said. “That experience and their outstanding facilities and production capabilities make them the perfect partner for us on the SkyCatcher program.”
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