Posts Tagged ‘cessna’

Cessna is building a military jet

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Scorpion_for-WebCessna Aircraft has very quietly built an econo military jet named Scorpion aimed at the jobs the bigger, meaner jets can do only at great expense, such as homeland security and border patrol. It’s had its first engine test. With its straight wing, it will go slowly enough to intercept slower aircraft, but can hit 450 knots when angry. Cessna built it for AirLand, another Textron company, and used a little bit of Citation jet technology along with engines used on many business jets. It should fly in two or three weeks. It’s said to cost more than a turboprop and less than a fighter jet. It was announced at the Air Force Association convention this week.

Cessna settles with former supplier

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Avcorp of Delta, British Columbia, once could boast that its vertical stabilizer for the Cessna CJ3 was the first component designed by someone other than Cessna. In fact, it still makes the boast on a Web page that probably needs to be taken down. Avcorp also made wing spars and the horizontal stabilizer for the wildly successful Sovereign. Cessna is waiting on an upgrade of that aircraft to turn its bottom line from red to black in the first quarter of 2014. All Avcorp work for Cessna ended in 2010 when Cessna said it was taking the subassemblies back in-house. Avcorp objected and won a $27.9 million judgement that was contested for a year or two. Now Cessna and Avcorp have reached a settlement, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cessna lays off workers

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Local Wichita television station KAKE reports the layoffs announced this week by Cessna Aircraft total 100 workers. Cessna had not announced totals. The layoffs come in addition to a voluntary retirement program announced earlier this year. Cessna lost $8 million in the first quarter, causing parent company Textron officials to reduce their earnings forecast. A loss is expected in the second quarter too, but profitable quarters are expected to resume late in the year when deliveries of the upgraded Sovereign jet begin.

Cessna small-jet line not suspended

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Cessna Aircraft CEO Scott Ernest told reporters at EBACE, a corporate jet show in Geneva, Switzerland, that the production line for its smallest jets was never suspended. It is still going, but slowly, and just how that slowness was achieved was never explained. The small jet market is terrible right now and Cessna was getting pressure to lower prices below the profit level. Confusion came when parent company Textron’s CEO, Scott Donnelly, said during a phone call with stock analysts that the smaller jets like the CitationJet and Mustang would be built to a good stopping point, and then the company would “stop production” on the models. I reported the line would be paused because Donnelly implied that production would be resumed at some point. Then Cessna officials called, wanting to know where I got such an erroneous impression. So, I played Textron’s own recording of Donnelly over the phone and stopped it just after Donnelly said, “…stop production.” “What does ‘stop production’ mean?” I asked. I was told, “We’ll call you back.” I got a statement in a phone call a few minutes later that any comment as to how “slowness” is achieved “was speculation.” I asked if that meant Donnelly was guilty of speculation, but didn’t get an answer to that question, either. So, if you looked at the small-jet production line, would everyone be moving in slow motion? That’s speculation.

Skycatcher rumors proved true

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

At the last U.S. Sport Aviation show in January at Sebring, Florida, rumors indicated hundreds of Skycatcher buyers with deposits down bailed on their order as soon as the price of the light sport aircraft rose to $149,900. AOPA’s Jim Moore has looked at the records and found the rumors to be true. It appears Cessna is conducting more test flights and will have something or other to announce regarding the Skycatcher in two or three months. There are 77 sitting in crates somewhere, either China or Independence, Kansas. Cessna has no comment. In the meantime, Flight Design continues to hold the lead in sales of LSAs.

Taildragging fun in Tennessee

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Do taildragger pilots have more fun? Well, yes, that’s pretty much a given. So, put together a bunch of tailwheel pilots and you’re in for an  especially good time.

Savannah-Hardin County Airport in Savannah, Tenn., hosted this year’s Ladies Love Taildraggers fly-in, held June 1-3, and boy, do these folks know how to throw a party. Airport manager Montille Warren must have been an event planner in another life, because she pulled all the stops for the event: a fuel discount, a huge hangar that served as a dining hall and later a stage for a country band; and a huge Southern-style spread each day. Organizer Judy Birchler (the driving force behind Ladies Love Taildraggers and the proud owner of a bright-yellow Rans) and her crew of volunteers rounded up door prizes, freebies like keychains (and you know how pilots love freebies) and nightly entertainment.

 What kind of entertainment? Well, Friday featured a Zumba class and a comedic poem by Kelly Jeffries about the trials and tribulations of building an airplane with her pilot-husband. Saturday was capped with performances by cowboy poet Woody Woodruff and country singer Ash Bowers.

Amazingly, there was no registration fee for the event. Judy and crew took donations–but 100 percent of the money collected was designated for Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that supports the families of service members and wounded warriors. AOPA Regional Manager Bob Minter told the crowd Friday night, “I’ve organized a lot of events, but I’ve never seen one like this one that had no registration fee and is entirely volunteer run.” The group ponied up more than $4,000, I was told.

Airplanes? Aeronca Champ; Taylorcraft; Cessna 140; Cessna 188; Bellanca Cruiseair; Super Decathlon; Citabria; Luscombe; Twin Beech; Cessna 195, Piper Super Cubs (at least three); Maule M5, Stearman, and a few I have yet to identify. (If you were there and I didn’t mention yours, apologies!)

The Homebuilt/Experimental category was well represented with several RVs, a Sonex, and a few I couldn’t identify. There were some 25 or 30 airplanes on the field for the event, and they came from 23 states. My trek from Maryland was a spin around the pattern compared to the trips by Kelly Jeffries, who brought her RV8 from New Hampshire; Cathy Page, who piloted her RV6 from Arizona; and Anne-Marie LaPointe, who rode a motorcycle from Ontario, Canada.

The variety of taildraggers was mouth-watering. There were some tricycle gear aircraft, too. (I imagine the pilot of a King Air that arrived mid-afternoon Saturday was scratching his head just a bit.) While it was definitely a taildragger-oriented event, Judy purposefully opened it to all lady pilots “and their friends,” so all of us could appreciate them. And I am very glad she did. I’ve been a fan of tailwheel airplanes since getting some stick time in an Aeronca Champ. There’s just no better way to fly low and slow, but if you want to fly far and fast, a tailwheel airplane can do that for you, too. Just ask Kelly and Cathy.

Ladies who love taildraggers at the LLT fly-in at Savannah, Tenn.

 

Light sport prices going up

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

This Pittsfield, Mass., Aerotrek is headed into the January "Pilot." That's owner Bob Sullivan preparing for our air-to-air photoshoot. (Click to enlarge.)

Cessna Aircraft can hold down the price of the two-place light sport aircraft (LSA) Skycatcher no longer, and says in 2012 it will be $149,900, although many previous options will now become standard equipment. It started out at $110,000 and had drifted up to $115,000. At those prices, it was below cost. So much for the 2004 dream that maybe some of the light sport aircraft could start at $20,000 but rise no higher than $60,000 when tricked out. The lowest-cost LSAs are about $80,000, but have lots of bells and whistles. You’ll see a report in the January issue of AOPA Pilot on the full-featured Aerotrek at $78,000, and Pipistrel, a company gaining fame for its electric aircraft work, says it will develop a low-cost two-place LSA trainer.

Pipistrel proposed trainer

When the announcement was first made, the Pipistrel price in euros amounted to $83,000. Now, five days later, the Pipistrel price of 59,000 euros amounts to $74,800.  Great price, but the airplane isn’t in production yet. What to do? There’s always the used LSA market to provide lower-cost airplanes, and that is growing with the increase in the LSA fleet. In fact, you can buy the Aerotrek you’ll read about in January–for the right price. I’ve flown it, and it’s a terrific airplane. So do I have the money? Well, not at this time…or times in the past. Future times don’t look all that flush, either. Fun to think about, though.

Catching the Skycatcher

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

AOPA Pilot Chief Photographer Mike Fizer photographed Cessna’s new Skycatcher above San Diego Tuesday night. This was the last of two formation flights I flew with Cessna test pilot Dale Bleakney. I also did a review flight during which I got a demonstration of proof that the spin problem is fixed. Bleakney cross-controlled it (full aileron, full opposite ruder), stalled it, and was still able to maneuver left, right, under perfect control. Then he had me do it. No problem.

We had a variety of light on our air-to-air led by a Cherokee Six. Rain clouds, rainbows, lenticular clouds piled 11 layers high over the mountains east of French Valley Airport (45 miles north of San Diego), and finally, night.

Turns out the Canon 5D can also capture still photos in very dark conditions. His camera was mounted to a multi-thousand-dollar gyrostabilizer. When it’s running, the plane moves around it–not the other way around. You look at the camera and think it is bobbing up and down, but actually that is the aircraft moving around the stabilized camera. We’ll have articles out on the Skycatcher in a couple of months.