Saturday, 18 April 2009 16:04 Last Updated on Thursday, 23 April 2009 20:33
Cessna Loses Another Prototype Skycatcher
Cessna's desires to enter into the Light Sport Aviation arena, appear to have had yet another setback after the 2nd of its prototypes was lost in El Dorado, during recent testing.
The first prototype was completely destroyed in September 2008, after the test pilot lost control and could not recover the aircraft from a spin during a test flight. Fortunately the pilot bailed out and was unharmed in the incident.
The second aircraft was being put through a series of extreme spins, with full power and controls crossed, when it entered an unrecoverable spin. As happened in the first crash, the on board BRS (Ballistic Recovery Chute) was deployed and again was to blame for the loss of this aircraft when the pilot was unable to jettison the chute once he had recovered control of the Skycatcher, failing to land the aircraft normally.
The pilot attempted to release the chute several times before trying to land normally as it had become to low to safely bail out. The impact was said to be hard but did not completely destroy the plane, however the wind then caught hold of the chute and dragged the Skycatcher with pilot still on board half a mile into a fence, inverting the plane and badly damaging it in the process. According to reports there have been at least 500 spin tests already undertaken in the project and Cessna say that hey are pressing on despite this setback and their boss Jack Pelton stated the need for a modern, cost effective two-seat trainer has never been greater. He went on to say "We test all our aircraft well beyond the limits of what is expected in normal operation. By the time a Cessna aircraft enters service we have the highest degree of confidence in the design".