Skycatcher's End

Talk about airplanes! At last count, there are 39 (and growing) FAA certificated S-LSA (special light sport aircraft). These are factory-built ready to fly airplanes. If you can't afford a factory-built LSA, consider buying an E-LSA kit (experimental LSA - up to 99% complete).

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Jim Stewart
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Skycatcher's End

Postby Jim Stewart » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:33 pm

From Aviation Week magazine:

"Cessna President and CEO Scott Ernest is signaling that Skycatcher, the company's low-cost, Chinese-built light-sport aircraft, has been relegated to the history books. "There's no future," Ernest said when asked about the aircraft at a Cessna press conference Oct. 21 at the NBAA convention in Las Vegas. Asked if that meant the project would be discontinued, he replied, "No future." Skycatcher was launched six years ago with great fanfare by Ernest's predecessor, Jack Pelton. Offered at an introductory price of $109,500, the aircraft attracted 720 orders worth more than $75 million in the first three weeks after launch, and backlog ultimately topped 1,000. But the project was bedeviled by manufacturing problems at its Chinese partner. Cessna also was forced to raise Skycatcher's price, which caused its backlog to evaporate. Ernest was more upbeat on two new signature projects at the aircraft builder. The Citation Latitude mid-sized jet is on track to make its inaugural flight in the first quarter of 2014, and the Citation X -- billed at the "world's fastest civilian aircraft" -- is expected to win final certification in March."
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Jack Tyler
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby Jack Tyler » Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:23 am

And from AVweb:
"Ernest's comments after his presentation categorized the SkyCatcher program simply. "That program didn't have a business model that worked," he said."

http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/Ce ... 834-1.html
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designrs
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby designrs » Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:39 am

CEO Quotes:
Cirrus LSA: "was a casulty of the economy"
PiperSport: conflict of "business philosophy"
Cessna: "no future"

Must admit Cessna tried hard.
Multiple testing crashes resulting in bad PR, pioneer manufacturing in China (also resulting in bad PR), forced sales to Cessna Centers (more bad PR), possible reconfiguration of the product (weight increase, etc). Cessna tried really hard but just couldn't seem to make it work.

The corporate world is about Return On Investment (ROI). Apparently the LSA product just doesn't have enough ROI for the corprate manufacturers. The companies that stick around for LSA are the ones that are willing to work hard and sweat because they want to build the product!

On a positive note, I just received a mailing stating that Vans is going to be manufacturing another group of ready-to-fly S-LSA RV-12's:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3409
Last edited by designrs on Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

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FastEddieB
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby FastEddieB » Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:58 am

I really thought the Cirrus LSA concept was a good one.

Provide a loss-leader introductory package - plane plus training towards the sport pilot license for one fixed price. Then credit that amount, in full, if the buyer wanted to step up to a "real" Cirrus within a fixed time frame - maybe a year.

Back in 1986 I bought a Harley Sportster under a similar program - $3,995 for a basic XLH, full credit towards a "big" Harley within one year. I did not take advantage of the trade-up, but it did help entice me into the purchase in the first place.

Anyway, I'd think that Cessna would have continued the SkyCatcher if they could have even come up with a "break even" model. That they couldn't shows how tough this market is in spite of how "overpriced" we deem the current offerings.
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Merlinspop
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby Merlinspop » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:03 am

People complain about the high cost of LSAs, but you can't ignore the realities. If you have, say, 4 people in your shop, you have to pay them to keep them. If all you can sell is 4 planes a year, then their salaries have to be spread over just those 4 planes (unless you have a sideline building something else, bikes, lawnmowers, whatever). That's on top of the cost of third party components, then the costs of the manufacturing facility, marketing, etc.
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drseti
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby drseti » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:01 am

Merlinspop wrote:, then the costs of the manufacturing facility, marketing, etc.


And let's not forget the cost of product liability insurance. Not so much a problem for the Eurozone countries, but a good reason why US manufacturers can no longer compete in the world economy.
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c162pilot
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby c162pilot » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:07 am

I spoke with the regional sales rep for Cessna a few weeks ago, he was at my airport showing off the TTx. He indicated at that time that the project to seek Primary Category Certification was on hold and that Cessna was looking to sell the entire program. It appears there are many built aircraft sitting in containers at the Cessna factory.

As you may recall I checked out in a C162 several years ago and really enjoyed flying the plane, but the lack of useful load really impacted my decision to continue flying it. The FBO that I use also has a C162 on line for flight training but then again the useful load is a major issue for them.

The Cessna Regional Rep indicated that in his opinion the thing that 'doomed' the C162 where not all the things mentioned in the other posts here but the decision to use the Continental O200. Had Cessna stuck with the original plan to use the Rotax the plane would have been a different animal all together and might still be viable.

Ironic that the thing Cessna thought would be most attractive in differentiating their offering from other LSA's, the air cooled trusty O200, could end up being the cause of its demise.

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designrs
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby designrs » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:12 am

drseti wrote:And let's not forget the cost of product liability insurance. Not so much a problem for the Eurozone countries, but a good reason why US manufacturers can no longer compete in the world economy.


Never know when at lest one prominent LSA company and all of their industry associates will be sued... because the consumer was in flight when the plane ran out of fuel. :roll:

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designrs
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby designrs » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:15 am

c162pilot wrote:Had Cessna stuck with the original plan to use the Rotax the plane would have been a different animal all together and might still be viable. Ironic that the thing Cessna thought would be most attractive in differentiating their offering from other LSA's, the air cooled trusty O200, could end up being the cause of its demise.


To clarify here... your point being that the O200 drastically and negatively impacted the useful load?

c162pilot
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby c162pilot » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:29 am

Yes in two dimensions: 1) the extra weight of the engine + the extra fuel required based on 6 GPH vs 3.5 GPH, estimated at about 60 pounds and perhaps closer to 100 pounds when tanks are only required to fueled to the tabs for training flights, and 2) the delay while Continental developed the LSA 'D' version of the O200.

Ultimately the perceived advantage of the O200 was overshadowed by the weight penalty.

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deltafox
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby deltafox » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:39 am

Will this be viewed as good news or bad for the LSA industry in general? None of the 'majors' could make the LSA business model work, yet other brands (CT, Carbon Cub, etc, etc) seem to be successful.
Dave

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MrMorden
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby MrMorden » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:42 am

I think at $109K it was a pretty attractive airplane, especially for flight schools and Cessna Flight Centers. Not at $150K.

What killed this plane before it got started was the braindead decision to use the O-200D engine. Installed weight is 201lb, versus installed weight of a Rotax 912S/ULS of about 135lb. I know they did it to appease the old-school bias toward simpler all air-cooled engines, but in the LSA world you can't just leave 60 or more pounds of useful load on the table and walk away from it.

I think a Rotax-powered Skycatcher with a 540-560lb useful load could have been a contender against the CT, especially with the Cessna pedigree and dealer/service network behind it. It is a nice airplane, and people that have flown it seem to really like the handling. I'm sad that Cessna so misread the LSA market and thus we lose yet another potentially great aircraft model as a result.
Andy Walker
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MrMorden
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby MrMorden » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:55 am

designrs wrote:
c162pilot wrote:Had Cessna stuck with the original plan to use the Rotax the plane would have been a different animal all together and might still be viable. Ironic that the thing Cessna thought would be most attractive in differentiating their offering from other LSA's, the air cooled trusty O200, could end up being the cause of its demise.


To clarify here... your point being that the O200 drastically and negatively impacted the useful load?


To the tune of 65-ish pounds. It's a crazy amount of weight to give up on an LSA design. Not to mention 6gph cruise fuel burn compared to a Rotax burning 4.5-5gph in cruise making the same power. It was just a bad, bad call to use that engine. Even a Jabiru 3300 would have been better, if they really wanted all air-cooled and no gearbox, it weighs about 178lb. And the Aussie Jabiru factory is much closer to the Chinese Skycatcher factory than Continental is.

It would be great if some other company buys the program, re-fits a Rotax and some other weight savings, and sells it as a re-branded airplane. It would still have all the exhaustive engineering Cessna put into it, plus the improvements. If they could beat the price of a new CT by $10k or so and get a 550-580lb useful load, I think they might sell a bunch. The CT has gotten portly as the models have progressed, to the point that the new CTLS has about 500-550lb useful, and the heavier CTLSi is 480-520...getting down to original Skycatcher levels! :? (for reference, my 2007 CTSW has 585lb useful, some others have 600+)

The Skycatcher could beat the utility of the newer CTs if those changes were made, and I think utility is largely what has put the CT on top of the LSA heap.
Andy Walker
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CTLSi
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby CTLSi » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:00 am

......
Last edited by CTLSi on Mon Dec 01, 2014 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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CharlieTango
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Re: Skycatcher's End

Postby CharlieTango » Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:02 am

CTLSi wrote:Told ya...


The Skycatcher's fatal flaw ( lack of useful load ) exists in your 833lb CT.


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