Warplanes: The Chinese SkyCatcher


December 6, 2007: An 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.


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