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Cessna SkyCatcher on track to begin deliveries in second half of 2009

Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, reported today it is on course to begin deliveries of the Model 162 SkyCatcher during the second half of 2009. A mock-up of the SkyCatcher is on display Nov. 6-8 during AOPA Expo at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

This schedule matches the timeline announced when the light sport aircraft launched in July 2007. Major program development milestones achieved since then include prototype first flight March 8 and first flight of the first production model May 1.

All engineering work and testing of the 162 is being completed in Wichita, Kan., at Cessna Aircraft Field Airport adjacent to McConnell Air Force Base. The program has accumulated more than 220 hours for ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) flight testing. Since losing the prototype in a flight test, Cessna has moved the first production model to the primary flight test aircraft while another airframe is conducting ASTM static testing.

Flight testing is focused on gathering data and making minor refinements to ensure the aircraft complies with ASTM requirements and fulfills its intended role in the training and sport flying market. The primarily aluminum aircraft will meet ASTM standard F2245 for the light sport category. An extensive Ground Vibration Test, though not an ASTM requirement, was conducted to meet Cessna's exacting standards for airframe integrity. Additional testing beyond the ASTM requirements will include a full airframe fatigue test on a production aircraft starting in mid-2009.

Production assembly jigs and tooling and detail tooling to support fabrication are complete and in place at Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC). Cessna will ship the SkyCatcher's engine and avionics, along with raw materials, from the United States to Shenyang, China, for assembly by SAC. Cessna has on-site personnel in place to provide ongoing oversight for quality assurance.

The next major program milestone is scheduled for second quarter 2009, when SAC completes the first aircraft assembly followed by its first flight.

Cessna has taken more than 1,000 SkyCatcher orders from individuals and flight schools. Of that order total, 35 percent are from international customers - half based in Europe.

Priced at $111,500 in 2007 dollars, the 162 is expected to cruise at speeds up to 117 knots (217 kilometers per hour) with a maximum range of 470 nautical miles (870 kilometers). The aircraft will feature a Continental O-200D 100-horsepower engine and the Garmin G300 avionics system. 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 day and night, visual flight rules operations.

Preliminary design parameters for the SkyCatcher include a maximum gross weight of 1,320 pounds (599 kilograms), a service ceiling of 13,600 feet (4,145 meters), a useful load of 490 pounds (222 kilograms) and a usable fuel capacity of 24 gallons (91 liters). It has a cabin width at shoulder height of more than 44 inches (1.12 meters), equaling that of the much-larger, six-place Cessna 206 Stationair. It features two top-hinged cabin entry doors and forward pivoting seats giving access to a baggage compartment.

Press release issued by Cessna Aircraft Company on November 12, 2008


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