Several visitors to the Cessna exhibit at this year’s U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, have already bought a Skycatcher, but the LSA on display at the show is the closest they may get to one for several months.
Earlier this month, Skycatcher customers received notice that delivery dates of their airplanes are being pushed back six to 10 months because of design changes and flight testing.
According to Cessna spokesperson Angela Baldwin, the LSA is getting a lower rudder extension, as well as a ventral fin below the horizontal tail, while adjustments are being made to the maximum travels of the elevator and ailerons.
The changes are the result of flight tests. There were two crashes of the Skycatcher during spin testing. In both cases the pilot was able to parachute to safety.
Delivery delays can be part of the development process, Baldwin noted.
“Whether for a new Citation or a new propeller aircraft, the development and flight test process frequently identifies issues not always predictable in a computer simulation or wind tunnel test,” she said. “That is why we test, and re-test, and test again.
“The development program for the Skycatcher was no different,” she continued. “Based on what we learned in this process, we made several changes to the airframe and systems.”
Those changes also necessitated retooling the production line for the LSA, which is in Shenyang, China. Once built there, the aircraft are packed up and sent to the U.S. for final assembly.
Baldwin adds that the Skycatcher, like other Cessna aircraft, are “designed to be in service for decades, so we prefer to take a little extra time now to ensure its long-term success.”
Cessna has more than 1,000 orders for the airplane on the books. The company had planned to deliver as many as 50 this year.
For more information: Cessna.com.