American aircraft company, Cessna, has agreed to allow a Chinese partner to
build the smallest, and cheapest, of its aircraft solely in China. The Cessna
SkyCatcher is a single engine, two seat aircraft that will sell for about
$110,000, some 40 percent less than if it were produced in the United States.
Cessna is eager to get a very inexpensive basic aircraft out there, to attract
more people to recreational flying, and to make it cheaper to train new
commercial pilots. The SkyCatcher would make an excellent basic training
aircraft. It weighs .6 ton, and can carry up to 490 pounds in passengers and
cargo. The hundred horsepower engine gives it a cruising speed of just over 200
kilometers an hour. Max endurance is 5-6 hours. Ceiling is 15,500 feet. It has
a 30 foot wingspan, and requires a 400 meter runway for takeoff, and a bit less
for landings. Nearly a thousand orders have already been received. Such an
inexpensive aircraft would appeal to Chinas growing middle class, and would
make it possible for more Chinese to get flying licenses, and go on to qualify
for commercial licenses. Currently, most Chinese commercial pilots come out commercial flight schools, and Sky Catcher will make that a less expensive way to produce commercial pilots.