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Second SkyCatcher Crashes During Test Flight

Displayed at AirVenture 2008, Cessna’s SkyCatcher P-1 crashed during flight testing on March 19.

March 20, 2009 — Cessna’s flight-testing program for the Model 162 SkyCatcher light-sport aircraft suffered another setback Thursday when its test bed aircraft crashed on private property north of El Dorado, Kansas. There were no injuries, as the airplane’s Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) parachute was deployed, lowering the aircraft and pilot safely to the ground. The pilot, the only person on board, was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure and released.

Cessna’s Doug Oliver, director of corporate communications, said Friday that the pilot got into an uncontrolled situation and deployed the BRS, which took him down to the ground. “Cessna always goes above and beyond what’s normal in its testing regimen,” he said. Cause of the crash is under investigation by the FAA and Cessna.

In September 2008, the first SkyCatcher production prototype crashed during a power-on, cross-controlled spin test. The installed BRS system on that plane did not properly deploy, and the test pilot (not the same person as Thursday’s crash) successfully bailed out and parachuted to safety. That prompted a 60-day design review, which resulted in making the empennage larger, Oliver said.

What this means to the SkyCatcher’s rollout schedule is unknown, Oliver said, although it leaves the company without a flying prototype, as only two were built for the testing program. “We’re working through that,” he said.

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