Cessna to speed up its Skycatcher deliveries

Cessna Aircraft will accelerate deliveries of its Model 162 Skycatcher light sport aircraft, the company said Thursday.

Cessna delivered its first Skycatcher at the end of 2009.

It is notifying customers that while aircraft modifications delayed initial deliveries, Cessna and Shenyang Aircraft Corp. in China, which builds the aircraft, are working together to increase deliveries through 2010.

Cessna announced the development at the Aero Friedrichshafen show in Germany, which started Thursday and concludes Sunday.

It's too early to say how many Skycatcher deliveries will be made this year, Cessna spokesman Bob Stangarone said.

Four Skycatchers arrived at Yingling Aviation a couple of weeks ago. They will be delivered by the end of May, Stangarone said. Two more Skycatchers are en route from China.

The planes arrive on a pallet at Yingling, which reassembles them and gets them into flying condition.

They're then sent to Cessna for modifications that are needed because of the results from spin tests during test flights. After modification, the planes return to Yingling for flight testing and delivery.

Modifications eventually will be incorporated into the production line in Shenyang.

Shenyang, meanwhile, plans to build a new facility to build the Skycatcher.

The factory is expected to open in 2011.

Cessna also said Thursday that it is cautiously optimistic about a predicted rebound for piston-engine aircraft.

"We see a number of indications that the general economy may be stabilizing and that should eventually translate into a return to growth in the piston market," John Doman, Cessna vice president for worldwide propeller aircraft sales, said in a statement.

Cessna officials expect the piston segment of the general aviation market to be the first to recover.

Cessna, which made 354 piston aircraft deliveries last year, has seen increased activity from flight schools, flight academies, military training programs, airlines and universities for training aircraft, it said.

The company expects the general economy to strengthen, leading to a rebound in general aviation sales. Substantial growth, however, isn't expected before mid-2011.

Hawker Beechcraft is also at the show in Germany with five aircraft on display — the Premier IA, King Air 350I, King Air C90GTx, Baron G58 and Bonanza G36.