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Thu, Dec 15, 2016

Demolition! Why Did Textron Destroy The Remaining Skycatchers?

Dozens of C162 LSA's -- Once The Hope of Cessna (and Much of Sport Aviation) -- Ripped, Shredded, Destroyed

Back here at ANN HQ, the staff is scratching its head over pictures that were publicized late Wednesday (first, via numerous 'shares' on Facebook), showing dozens of warehoused Skycatchers and their recent fate... being ripped up and crushed, with engines still apparently attached, by heavy equipment. It looked brutal...

There were reportedly between 60 and 70 airframes being stored after Cessna/Textron made the move to withdraw the aircraft from production and sales. At its height, in the decade since its unveiling, the aircraft was a market leader with some 1200 aircraft reportedly on the books... but after a turbulent development program and what appeared to be significant market acceptance, the company's zeal for the Skycatcher program faded as Cessna leadership changed, aggressive pricing increases were instituted, the LSA movement failed to take real hold, and the economy went south.

In the end, the aircraft's price jumped from a little over $100K to nearly $150K -- with very little warning. Thereafter; orders disappeared, some 300 were actually sold, and the loss of the Skycatcher from the LSA offerings list was considered a heavy blow for a teetering industry segment.

Based on what we know now, Textron had several significant offers for many of the warehoused aircraft... but the company refused to sell them, and with the evidence of these photos burning some pretty intense ugliness into our brains, it appears that the company elected to destroy them rather then sell them... for reasons as yet fully unknown. Some industry insiders posit that Textron wanted to avoid the liability and support chores for the orphaned airplanes, while another line of conjecture believes that 'issues' still existed between Textron and the Chinese partners with whom Cessna first undertook the aircraft's manufacture.

Regardless, its a pretty ugly end for an airframe that was once considered to be a potential bellwether for the future of the LSA movement -- and based on our test flights, a fine little airplane. The destruction is a shocker and unless there is a safety-oriented reason for the decision to crunch them up, one wonders what these aircraft might have eventually done in the hands of those who could have used them to train new pilots and help support a staggering industry. Surely; there was a good cause (CAP perhaps, EAA maybe?) that could have put these aircraft to good use and helped grow the industry just a little bit. Surely...

There is obviously more to this story and as we get those details (if Textron will speak up...), we'll get them to you... but in the meantime we can't help but thinking that this was a horrible waste of great little sport airplanes. 

FMI: www.textron.com

 


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