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EAA President Tom Poberezny had the opportunity to get an up-close look at Cessna’s most recent proof-of-concept creations - the Cessna Sport light-sport aircraft (LSA) and a cockpit mock-up for the NGP (Next Generation Piston) - while attending the AOPA Expo in Palm Springs, California, last week. These were the same aircraft that were unveiled to the aviation world for the first time barely four months earlier at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2006.

Poberezny came away impressed after an extensive briefing on the LSA from Neal Willford, LSA project engineer; Dale Bleakney, senior engineering test pilot; and Derek Mookhoek, LSA project manager.

“I had the chance to get into the cockpit,” Poberezny said. “It was comfortable, had a well laid out panel, and great overall visibility.” Ditto the NGP cockpit mock-up, which was also on display at Expo.

Cessna, which flew the LSA from Wichita to California for last week’s event, has not confirmed it will bring the Sport to market, but an announcement is expected in the first quarter of 2007, says CEO Jack Pelton.

“The more we evaluate our light-sport aircraft proof-of-concept airplane and the market potential for such an aircraft, the stronger our conviction is that this could be a favorable step for our company’s product line,” Pelton said. “We’ve explored the flight envelope and basic handling characteristics. The fundamental airplane design is looking good.” Cessna continues to study the sales and distribution alternatives that would be needed if the program moves forward, as well as manufacturing options.

“Overall, the business case is looking promising, and the responses we’ve received from our current customers and potential new customers has been overwhelmingly favorable,” Pelton continued. “In addition to general market feedback, we’ve asked for input from our Cessna Pilot Center flight school network, and representatives have said this would be a good fit for their flight training needs.”

The Sport features a 30-foot high wing, side-by-side seating with dual control sticks, tricycle gear with a castering nose wheel, and a 100-hp Rotax 912 engine. Construction is primarily of aluminum, with selective use of composite parts in the cowl, wing and dorsal fin.

(l to r) Derek Mookhoek, Cessna LSA project manager;
Dale Bleakney, senior engineering test pilot; Tom Poberezny,
and Neal Willford, LSA project engineer,
stand before the Cessna Sport.

Tom Poberezny examines the Cessna Sport cockpit
with Cessna's Neal Willford.

Tom Poberezny gives shows his approval
of Cessna NGP's cockpit mock-up on display
in Palm Springs, California.

EAA Aviation Center, 3000 Poberezny Road, Oshkosh, WI 54902
Phone: 920/426.4800

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