For a little airplane, the Skycatcher has caused Cessna some big headaches, but things seem to be smoothing out. The planemaker reported yesterday that it had stuffed one of them in a crate and sent it to Australia, thereby checking off its first international delivery.
Announced in 2007, the Skycatcher is Cessna’s entry in the light sport aircraft (LSA) category. A VFR two-seater powered by a Continental 0200D engine and featuring a Garmin G300 cockpit, the aircraft sells for $113,500.
To keep costs low, the Skycatcher is built in China. The original plan called for the aircraft to be manufactured, outfitted, painted and test flown in China and then disassembled and shipped to various reassemblers around the world. But that hasn’t worked out for a variety of reasons, one of which is the Chinese won’t permit the test flights to occur at the manufacturing site because it’s military-controlled.
As a result, the anticipated flood of Skycatchers – Cessna has orders for hundreds of them – was instead an ooze.
However, the Chinese are now building a new factory dedicated to Skycatcher production and the pace of deliveries is already increasing. Some 30 Skycatchers arrived last year, and Cessna is forecasting five times that number will be delivered this year.