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SkyCatcher Spin Accidents—Hurray For Cessna

The Cessna SkyCatcher
Cessna SkyCatcher

On March 19, 2009, the second Cessna SkyCatcher crashed in flight testing due to an unrecoverable spin  (See SkyCatcher First Flight).  In each case the pilot walked away, but the program was hit with a significant setback. 

Folks, this is wonderful news.  We couldn’t be happier about this.  Are we crazy?  Some people might say so, but in this case it makes perfect sense to be happy about these crashes. 

The ASTM standards that the SkyCatcher is being certificated under don’t require this level of testing.  But Cessna does.  From the start, we knew that the SkyCatcher would be a true Cessna—a safe, reliable airplane.  To ensure this, Cessna is testing the SkyCatcher in a way that no Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) has ever been tested before.

The fact that they found an area of the envelope from which the current version of the SkyCatcher did not recover—and will most assuredly fix it—means that some unsuspecting student or flight instructor will not be the first one to find the problem.  I say, hurray for Cessna!  Thanks for taking care of us so well.

3 Comments

  1. Jack

    The CubCrafters also spin tested the standard model Sport Cub and also a Sport Cub equiped with straight floats. While a clean sheet redesign of the Super Cub, the spin characteristics appear as controlled as a J-3 (at least with only the pilot and no one in the rear seat). Spin testing should be a requirement for all LSA aircraft. Note that the POH for the Sport Cub specifically prohits spins. Seems like the LSA’s that spin controllably should at least allow spin training with a qualified instructor on board, for proper training of the pilots.

  2. Jim Lee

    The Evektor SportStar completed spin testing in 2001. The results can be found at:
    http://www.evektor-aircraft.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/ev97_spins.pdf

    If you look at the spin program the Evektor complied with you will see that all precautions were taken before testing began to make sure that the pilot was protected.
    Over 400 spins later, the SportStar successfully completed the requirements for EASA certification.
    So you can see, that at least one other LSA has undergone full spin testing.
    With the excellent visibility offered by the SportStar, metal construction (you can tie it down outside for years), Magnum ballistic recovery system, the strongest gear in the industry, and great flying characteristics, and IMC capable aircraft flying today,the SportStar is already proving that it is top of the stack in LSA training!

  3. Chris Archer

    Well, you certainly have an interesting (and experienced) take on this spin issue. But I’d still argue that it’s not encouraging when an LSA meant for less experienced pilots isn’t quite as forgiving as perhaps it should be.

    How many times did the 152 or 172 crash during flight testing?

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