Cessna Makes First Flight
October 13, 2006 — The Cessna Sport, Cessna Aircraft Company's proof-of-concept light-sport aircraft (LSA), made its first flight on Friday, October 13. It departed McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, at 8:33 a.m., performed a variety of flight maneuvers at speeds in excess of 110 knots (127 mph), and landed at 9:05 a.m. at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport a few miles away.
"It's been nine months to the day since I gave the team the go-ahead to build an LSA concept aircraft," said Cessna Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jack J. Pelton. ".It's a testament to the experience and engineering ability of the Cessna team that we were able to make this happen in such a short timeframe."
Pelton said the company would evaluate a spectrum of issues associated with entering the LSA marketplace to determine if there is a favorable business case. Cessna expects to make that decision in the first quarter of 2007.
"An important part of our thought process in looking at LSA is the value in terms of new pilot starts," Pelton said. "Experience has shown that Cessna brand loyalty is a powerful force in our success, and we believe this new category of aircraft could provide a conduit for new pilots to grow through the Cessna product line in the years ahead. We also believe our extensive sales and service network could provide an important market advantage, which, in concert with our design and manufacturing experience, could make this an attractive extension of our product line."
After receiving a call from Pelton Friday about the successful flight, EAA President Tom Poberezny remarked, "It's a great day for sport pilot, and another positive step for Cessna's entry into the sport pilot marketplace." Cessna unveiled the proof-of-concept LSA at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2006.
The Cessna Sport features a 30-foot wingspan, side-by-side seating in a 48-inch wide cabin, tricycle gear, and a 100-hp Rotax 912S engine. It has dual control sticks, upward opening doors, toe brakes, and a castering nose wheel. Construction is primarily of aluminum, with selective use of composite parts for the cowl, wing and dorsal fin.
"It's a great day for us, and now we're really going to get rolling on flight-testing," Pelton told Poberezny.