Monday, March 30, 2009


Here's an update on the second Cessna 162 SkyCatcher crash mentioned below.
The culprit, according to Cessna: once again, an unrecoverable spin that required another ballistic parachute deployment. Both times the PIC survived, although the BRS failed during the first incident, requiring the pilot to depart the airplane and pull his own chute.
As noted earlier, Cessna's design team had modified the vertical tail after the first incident.
The official language: Company CEO Jack Pelton said the aircraft was undergoing “a very aggressive spin test regime – power on and cross-controlled – when it entered a spin that was not immediately recoverable.”
The test was one of more than 500 using combinations of center-of-gravity positions, power settings, flap settings and control inputs.
“We test all our aircraft well beyond the limits of what is expected in normal operation,” said Pelton, who reassured customers who've already ordered that Cessna was moving forward on the program.
But no dates for production can of course be predicted at this time, as they've got a problem and they know it, even if they don't know exactly what to do about it yet.
Some reports said the SkyCatcher crash #2 pilot also bailed out. Not true: The savviest report I've read says that once the aircraft stabilized after the BRS deployment, the pilot tried to use the cutaway device Cessna had rigged, but it failed, and he was too low to bail then so he rode it out.
After "landing", the pilot got out. The strong Kansas winds reinflated the chute and dragged the airplane 1/2 mile before it hit a fence and flipped upside down.
We wish Cessna success in sorting out this technical and PR setback. The LSA industry benefits greatly in public perception from the Cessna name. But bad news travels fast too, so we all hope the solution is arrived at quickly.

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