Cessna Aircraft has handed over the first new 172R to US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) president Phil Boyer. AOPA took the aircraft on behalf of member Sharon Hauser, who won the 1997 Skyhawk in an Association sweepstake. It is the first Skyhawk to be delivered by the manufacturer in nearly 11 years.

Cessna chairman Russ Meyer forecasts that the new $40 million Independence Municipal Airport, Kansas-based factory will produce thousands more Skyhawks, 182 Skylanes and 206 Stationaires in the coming years.

The hand-over was the culmination of a project on which Cessna has been working since 1992, when Meyer created a team to study the feasibility of Cessna returning to the single-engined field, which it abandoned in 1986 citing low sales and high prices.

With the first delivery complete the focus will now shift to finding buyers for the 2,000 singles a year which Meyer predicts the company will be delivering by the end of 1998, double the figure expected for this year.

Just over half of 1997 planned production is earmarked for the Skyhawk, with most of the balance made up by 182S Skylanes, production of which got under way less than two months ago.

Beyond the 1998 goal of making and selling 2,000 aircraft, Cessna is examining the addition of retractable-gear versions of the 172 and 182 near the end of the decade, when production has been predicted to go to 3,000.

Prices range from $124,500 for the basic 172R to the mid-$200,000 range for the best-equipped 206 and 206TC. So far, Cessna has acknowledged deposits or orders for about 500 singles, including an order from Brazilian distributor TAM.


Source: Flight International