Cessna's Model 162 SkyCatcher light sport aircraft prototype flew for the first time on 8 March from Cessna Aircraft Field near, Wichita, Kansas.

During the one hour flight Cessna's test pilot Dale Bleakney evaluated the aircraft's controllability and stability and made several flight manoeuvres.

Three aircraft will be involved the SkyCatcher certification programme, Cessna says - a prototype, production model, and an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) aircraft.

All engineering work and testing of the aluminium SkyCatcher will be completed at Cessna's Wichita facility.

 © Cessna

Fabrication of the first production 162, due to fly later this spring, is progressing on time, says Cessna "and the ASTM test article last week completed limit load testing alongside the new Citation CJ4 light business jet test article".

Cessna's engineering team continues to evaluate the 100hp (75kW) Teledyne Continental O-200 piston engine using the proof of concept aircraft. It first flew with the Continental engine on 17 August last year, just weeks after the programme's official launch at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

 © Cessna

The $111,500 (�72,600) SkyCatcher is expected to cruise at speeds up to 220km (118kt) with a maximum range of 870km (470nm).

Preliminary design parameters for the SkyCatcher include a maximum gross weight of 600kg (1,320lb), a service ceiling of 15,500ft, (4,700m), a useful load of 240kg (490lb) and a usable fuel capacity of 24USgal (90 litres).

The high-wing aircraft will be assembled in China by Shenyang Aircraft and delivereies are scheduled to begin in the second half of next year.

Source: FlightGlobal.com