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