First Production Cessna SkyCatcher Nears Completion; TruTrak SkyPilot Selected for Auto Pilot System
Lakeland, Fla.– Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, continues to test fly its Model 162 SkyCatcher prototype and soon will complete production of the second aircraft in the light sport aircraft’s flight test program.
The second airframe will be designated the first production serial number of the model and will be equipped with a production interior in time to debut at EAA AirVenture this summer. Visitors to Cessna’s aircraft display at the Sun ’n Fun Fly-In April 8-13 at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport can view the SkyCatcher mockup.
A third airframe – to be used as an ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) structural test article – also is under way. All engineering work and testing of the 162 will be completed at Cessna’s main facilities in Wichita, Kan.
Cessna has accomplished a multitude of tests on the prototype since its first flight on March 8. An extensive Ground Vibration Test, though not an ASTM requirement, was conducted to meet Cessna’s exacting standards for airframe integrity. The Flight Test team also has calibrated the airspeed boom and thoroughly explored the aircraft’s handling qualities and stall characteristics to ensure the SkyCatcher provides a safe and forgiving flight profile for its intended role in training and sport flying.
In addition to flight testing, the design of the production assembly jigs and tooling is progressing rapidly and on-schedule.
Cessna has selected Springdale, Ark.-based TruTrak Flight Systems to supply an optional autopilot system available as a dealer-installed option at the time of purchase or an after-market option. The TruTrak SkyPilot is specially engineered for light sport aircraft. The two-axis autopilot is based on the company’s best-selling Digiflight II VSGV and will feature a dedicated rate gyro for each axis, giving it superb dynamic performance.
Priced at $111,500, the Cessna 162 SkyCatcher will cruise at speeds up to 118 knots with a maximum range of 470 nautical miles. The aircraft features a Garmin G300 glass 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 incorporating an optional second screen. The aircraft will be capable of day and night, visual flight rules (VFR) 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 a usable fuel capacity of 24 U.S. gallons. 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.
Cessna announced the go-ahead for the SkyCatcher in July 2007. The primarily aluminum aircraft will meet ASTM standard F2245 for the light sport category. Deliveries are expected to begin in the second half of 2009, and at full-rate production, Cessna plans to produce up to 700 SkyCatchers a year.
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