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Cessna: SkyCatcher LSA Remains Priority

March 25, 2009 — Cessna Aircraft Company reaffirmed its full commitment to its LSA program today,  responding to the aftermath of last week’s crash of Cessna’s second prototype Model 162 SkyCatcher light-sport aircraft during flight-testing,

“The need for a modern, cost-effective two-seat trainer aircraft has never been greater, and we believe we are well positioned to meet that need,” said Jack Pelton, Cessna chairman, president and CEO, in a company news release on Wednesday, March 25. “The SkyCatcher program is an important part of our strategy.” He added the company is making every effort to minimize the impact on deliveries to customers, but did not state an amended planned delivery time frame, originally slated for the second half of this year. The March 19 crash occurred while the airplane was undergoing “a very aggressive spin test regime - power on and cross-controlled - when it entered a spin that was not immediately recoverable,” Pelton said.

Cessna reports it has flown the SkyCatcher in more than 500 spin tests using various combinations of center-of-gravity positions, power settings, flap settings, and control inputs. In September 2008, a different test aircraft crashed when the pilot parachuted to safety after being unable to recover during aggressive spin testing.

“We test all our aircraft well beyond the limits of what is expected in normal operation,” Pelton added. “By the time a Cessna aircraft enters service we have the highest degree of confidence in the design, flight characteristics, manufacture and quality of the aircraft.”

Engineers have obtained valuable data on the crashworthiness of the aircraft and the operation of the optional Ballistic Recovery System (BRS) airframe parachute as a result of the two incidents, the company stated.

The SkyCatcher is a two-seat LSA powered by a 100 hp Continental O-200 engine.

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