Flies By Intro Of SLSA Proof Of Concept
The biggest event at Cessna's unveiling of its SLSA Proof of
Concept aircraft wasn't the unveiling of the POC -- as much as that
drew the crowd.
Early in the announcement, Cessna's President and CEO Jack
Pelton, relaxed and genial, hinted that there were two parts of the
announcement -- and the second part "we'll get to later."
The second part came as Pelton finished describing the Light
Sport Proof of Concept program. Many people were asking about
Cessna's long term single-engine strategy, he said, and so he was
going to discuss Cessna's next generation family of aircraft.
Pelton made it clear that, while Cessna is please with the 172, 182
and 206 lines, that the company intends to cede the leadership in
general aviation to no one. Significantly, Pelton referred not to
just a Next Generation aircraft but stressed that the firm is
developing a family of next generation Cessna single engine
A prototype has been flying for a while, Pelton noted; "but it's
too early to talk about performance numbers, and too early for
Cessna, ever conservative wants to be "highly confident that we
can meet customer expectations for innovation, quality, and
performance." But, he said with a dramatic pause, "if you look
right THERE we'll show it to you." And he turned behind him and
pointed to the sky, where the NGP, as Cessna's insiders call it,
made a high-speed pass at low altitude down the runway.
The plane was backlit by the sun, and no doubt Cessna intended
it that way; no Cessna official says anything about the NGP without
mentioning how unready it is for public display. But at distance,
and at speed, most pilots had similar reactions: "what a striking
airplane." [And, once again, please note that all the photos
we were able to shoot were into the sun... making good photography
VERY difficult... that's our excuse and we're sticking to it. --
We'll have more detailed analysis of these pictures later -- and
Cessna insiders stress that the plane is a prototype, and it might
be mistaken to draw final conclusions about the production aircraft
from its current prototype configuration.
But the airplane resembles a Cardinal overall, with a cantilever
wing with a new, fully-tapered planform in place of the familiar
Cessna midwing taper. Of course, it's a high-wing plane. It has
faired, fixed landing gear. Significantly, like the SLSA Proof of
Concept, the Next Generation Prototype has a sleek fastback design,
instead of Cessna's signature rear windows, which is clearly meant
to enhance the plane's speed.
The airplane made several passes, which let our ace
photographers snap these pictures.
At the end of the dramatic public introduction, Pelton promised
us a press conference later, so we'll be updating you on Cessna's
programs -- Light Sport AND General Aviation -- as the day, and the