Cessna’s new 162 Skycatcher is now rolling out of the assembly hangar in Wichita Kansas and Robert Mark, the editor of the Jetwhine blog, recently got a sneak peek at the new aircraft. Rob first noted that Cessna expects to deliver about 50 of these Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA) aircraft by the end of the year plus they have orders for another thousand.
He then pointed out that what’s great about the new Skycatcher is the fact that its the first new Cessna-designed true training aircraft since the Cessna 150/152 series was developed about four decades ago. Since there has been no good alternative to the increasingly-aged 150/152 fleet, flight schools have been forced to start using C172s for primary training and this significantly elevates the cost of learning how to fly.
Rob also wrote in considerable detail his experience taking one up for a spin and he noted all of the aircraft’s many strengths and advantages along with one of its biggest drawbacks: Cost. According to Rob, the Skycatcher lists for US$112,500 and when an MFD, the intercom and a primer is added, the total is closer to US$125,000. And while he noted that Cessna Finance is available and that Yingling Aviation rents their Skycatcher for under US$100 per hour (a price that many student pilots may find inviting), he also added that:
Much to the chagrin of some, the Skycatcher is never going to cost $45, 000, or rent for $35 an hour, but perhaps only in comparison to other aircraft. At our flying club in Chicago, the Piper Archer is $165 an hour and the Cirrus and Diamond rent out at $180 so under a hundred looks pretty good for a new airplane, I think.
Moreover and at the end of his post, Rob wrote that:
I also believe that learning in an airplane with simple electronics like the Skycatcher will shorten the total training to earn a license and hence the total cost considerably from say, learning from scratch in a Cirrus. And then, of course, as my instructor Jeremy Schrag said, “The 162 might be small, but the fun factor is big!” I agree. We forget about the fun part too much these days. The Skycatcher will help any pilot remember.
A very good point indeed.