Sky­catch­ers scrapped

Pilot - - NOTES -

Cessna Air­craft has ap­par­ently de­stroyed its en­tire in­ven­tory of un­sold Model 162 Sky­catcher light sport air­craft. Pho­tos pub­lished in De­cem­ber show com­plete but unassem­bled air­frames, in­clud­ing en­gines, be­ing hoisted by grab cranes and then ap­par­ently be­ing crushed. It is thought that up to eighty Sky­catch­ers have been scrapped. Whilst not con­firm­ing the pre­cise num­ber, a Cessna spokesper­son told the Avweb on­line news­let­ter that it had ‘uti­lized the re­main­ing in­ven­tory for spare parts to en­sure the cur­rent fleet of fielded air­craft can re­ceive on­go­ing sup­port… [and dis­posed] of what re­mained af­ter sal­vaging us­able parts’.

Launched in 2007, the Sky­catcher was Cessna’s bid for the then seem­ingly lu­cra­tive Light Sport Air­craft mar­ket. Ul­ti­mately the com­pany was re­ported to have or­ders for 1,200 world­wide. Man­u­fac­tur­ing was based in China, and first cus­tomer de­liv­er­ies were made in 2011. But an un­ex­pected price in­crease from the ini­tial $100,000 to $150,000 and new par­ent com­pany man­age­ment at Cessna that had lit­tle en­thu­si­asm for re­turn­ing to the bot­tom end of the GA mar­ket — Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Scott Ernest say­ing in 2013 that the Sky­catcher “had no fu­ture” — sales ef­forts were brought an end to that year. It is not clear how many Sky­catch­ers may be in ac­tive ser­vice with cus­tomers.

This is not the first ex­am­ple of Cessna scrap­ping a model line. In 1962 the com­pany stopped pro­duc­tion of the CH-1 Sky­hook he­li­copter and, to avoid on­go­ing sup­port and li­a­bil­ity, bought back all those sold to com­mer­cial cus­tomers. Along with un­sold

air­frames, it re­port­edly bull­dozed them into the ground. A sole ex­am­ple of the mil­i­tary YH-41 ver­sion is known to ex­ist, in the US Army Avi­a­tion Mu­seum at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, while un­con­firmed ru­mours sur­face oc­ca­sion­ally of ex­am­ples ex­ported to the air forces of Iran and Ecuador still sur­viv­ing.

Above left and inset: Sky­catcher air­frames in stor­age and on their way to be­ing scrapped Above right: the ill-fated CH-1 Sky­hook he­li­copter

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