Shenyang Aircraft's plans to have a new manufacturing plant and flight-test centre for the Cessna 162 Skycatcher light sport aircraft have been delayed until 2011.

The Chinese state-owned aircraft manufacturer plans to build a Skycatcher factory on a "green field" site in Faku county, 60km (35 miles) north of its main manufacturing base in Huanggu.

It also plans to have a general aviation airport next to the factory so the Chinese-built Skycatcher can undergo flight testing before export.

"The new facility provides Shenyang Aircraft and the Shenyang government a chance to be more involved in general aviation," says Cessna, adding that "it represents an economic development opportunity".

Cessna Skycatcher 162 
 © Cessna

The original plan called for the new factory and airport to be open in mid-2010, but Cessna says construction has yet to start and the aim now is to have the factory and airport open next year.

Shenyang Aircraft has so far shipped seven Skycatchers to the USA, says Cessna. The first aircraft was flight-tested at a Chinese military air base next to Shenyang Aircraft's Huanggu factory.

Cessna says the second and all subsequent Skycatchers will undergo flight-testing in Wichita.

The Wichita-based company has also introduced modifications, such as a ventral fin and enlarged rudder. Modifications for the first 10 aircraft are being performed in the USA as Cessna strives to keep the Chinese manufacturing programme on track, it says. The changes will be incorporated into the Chinese manufacturing process for subsequent Skycatchers.

Shenyang Aircraft had aimed to make 350 Skycatchers this year, but it is unclear if the Chinese aircraft-maker will reach that goal, says Cessna.

The Skycatcher is Cessna's entry-level light sport aircraft product and is being manufactured in China in an effort to keep the aircraft's sale price low.

Source: Flight International