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SEBRING - Cessna unveils US assembly sites for Skycatcher

Cessna announced at the US Sport Aviation show, which was held in Sebring, Florida from 17-20 January, the three US assembly sites for its Chinese-built Skycatcher.

Following production by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) in Shenyang, China, SkyCatchers will be test flown, disassembled and then shipped to three Cessna-authorised service stations in the USA, the Wichita airframer said. Acceptance tests and reassembly will occur at Eagle Aviation in West Columbia, Yingling Aviation in Wichita, and Southwest Platinum Aviation in Las Vegas. The engine and avionics, along with raw materials, will be shipped to Shenyang from the USA for assembly by SAC. Cessna is currently selecting vendors for the SkyCatcher's optional equipment.

First flight of the prototype Model 162 is set for the first half of 2008 and deliveries are expected to begin in 2009. Cessna expects to produce up to 700 a year at full-rate production.

The proof of concept aircraft continues to fly but engineers continue to adjust the engine cooling and propeller pitch settings, along with minor adjustments to the overall flight characteristics.

The proof of concept aircraft first flew with its 100hp (75kW) Teledyne Continental O-200 engine on 17 August last year, three weeks after the programme's official launch at the Experimental Aircraft Association'sAirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The Cessna 162 Skycatcher will cruise at just under the light sport aircraft limit of 220 km/h (120kt). The aircraft's targeted maximum range is 870km (470nm).

The current maximum gross weight is 2,900kg (6,380lbs), with a service ceiling of 15,500ft (4,730m), a useful load of 220kg and 91 litres (24USgal) of usable fuel. It has a cabin width at shoulder height of 1,125mm (44.25in), equal to that of the much-larger, six-seat Cessna 206 Stationair.

The Skycatcher will feature a Garmin G300 avionics system designed for this airframe. Information is presented in a single, split-screen primary flight display and multi-function display, or as two full-screen displays with an optional second screen. The aircraft will be capable of visual flight rules operations during both day and night.

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