Cessna has given the green light to launch its eagerly awaited light sport aircraft. A full-scale mock-up and programme details will be released at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin later in July - a year after Cessna publicly announced it was working on the LSA concept and nine months after the proof of concept made its first flight.

Cessna chief executive Jack Pelton says: "After conducting extensive market research, it is clear to us there is a great need for this aircraft as we strive to drive down the cost of flying and learning to fly."

Pelton is confident the LSA will help to bring new pilots into the market and will "encourage licensed pilots to continue to fly because it will be more affordable".

He says: "Experience has shown that Cessna brand loyalty is a powerful force in our success, and we believe this new category of aircraft could provide a conduit for new pilots to grow through the Cessna product line in the years ahead.

"We also believe our extensive sales and service network could provide an important market advantage, which, in concert with our design and manufacturing experience, could make this an attractive extension of our product line."

Cessna has developed a business case "that makes sense", Pelton says. "We have incorporated several innovative features into the design and we believe we can deliver the finest aircraft in the category."

The LSA category is defined as having a maximum gross weight of 600kg (1,320lb), maximum level-flight speed of 120kt (220km/h), and no more than two seats. It permits daytime flying only these light two-seat aircraft after only 20h of training.

Cessna's LSA proof-of-concept features a 9m (30ft)-high wing, side-by-side seating for two in a cabin with a maximum width of 120cm (48in) (15cm more than the ubiquitous Cessna 152), tricycle gear, and a 100hp (135kW) Rotax 912 engine.

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Source: FlightGlobal.com