The Cessna 162 SkyCatcher made its European debut at Aero Friedrichshafen, where the airframer was eager to quash reports that it is cancelling its plans to sell the light sport aircraft (LSA) on the continent following a setback in securing European certification.

"These reports are inaccurate," says Jodi Noah, Cessna's senior vice president, single-engine and propeller aircraft. "We are returning the deposits to our European customers and will not take new orders for the aircraft until we can secure European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification."

Validation of the SkyCatcher programme in Europe has been hampered by the differences in aircraft classification between the Europe and the USA.

In the USA, the SkyCatcher is considered part of the Federal Aviation Authority's LSA category. This designation carries with it a weight limitation of 600kg (1,320lb). No type certificate or production certificate is required by the FAA.

Under the EASA regulations, the closest equivalent category is the CS-LSA. This category limits flying to day visual flight rules and the weight to less than 600kg.

"In this category, EASA also requires the manufacturer to have a type certificate and production certificate - which obviously Cessna does not have since the LSA category does not require it." says Noah.

Cessna says it is working with the EASA to certify the SkyCatcher, which entered service over two years ago. In a statement issued during the show, the airframer said: "We are striving to find an economical solution that benefits our customers and satisfies EASA standards. We will recommence accepting orders when we are clear on a path towards cost-effective certification from EASA."

Returning deposits is, Cessna says, "just a step we are taking to make sure we maintain a positive relationship with the SkyCatcher customer. It's impossible to know precisely how long certification will take, and we don't want a procedure that is beyond our control to affect our relationship with our customers".

Source: Flight International