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Cessna’s SkyCatcher website is announcing that its Model 162 prototype made its first flight on Saturday, March 10. The one-hour flight departed Cessna Aircraft Field Airport in Wichita, Kansas, shortly after 7 a.m. and consisted of flight maneuvers to evaluate the controllability and stability of the aircraft.

“The first flight of the SkyCatcher is a significant step ahead toward our goal of bringing an affordable training aircraft to market,” said Jack Pelton, Cessna’s chairman, president and CEO. “There is a lot of excitement at Cessna as we progress through our many developmental programs and I’m very proud of our teams for continuing to stay on track.”

Cessna Engineering Test Pilot Dale Bleakney made the test flight to Mid-Continent airport where the aircraft will continue development testing.

This is the first of three airframes: a prototype, the first production model, and an ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) test article that Cessna’s engineering team will build in the development phase of the SkyCatcher program. All engineering work and testing of the 162 will be completed in Wichita. The aluminum aircraft is being designed to meet the ASTM International standard for light-sport aircraft.

Fabrication of the first production 162, scheduled to fly later this spring, is progressing as planned, while the ASTM test aircraft recently completed limit load testing at Cessna’s structural test facility. Meanwhile, Cessna’s engineering team continues to evaluate the 100-hp Continental O-200 engine using the proof-of-concept aircraft. It first flew with the Continental engine on Aug. 17, 2007, just weeks after the program’s official launch at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last summer.

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