I just finished reading an article in the June COPA Flight which I believe was a very one sided and negative portrayal of the new Cessna 162 Skycatcher written by Adam Hunt.
I respect Adam, his knowledge of aviation issues and writing abilities but I feel that he has done great harm in his spin on this new flight trainer. And I am shocked that my national organization, which I have supported with membership and advertising for many years would publish such a negative and critical article without even consulting us, as the Eastern Canada Sales Representative for Cessna Aircraft Company.
Adam's take on a few things is simply wrong and puts Cessna in a very bad light. First, he states that Cessna closed their blog to end debate on the Skycatcher being built in China. There is no debate. They made their decision and yes there was negative reaction by some people. Posturing about China though may be a hypocritical thing; I do know people like to pay as little as possible for their products and a lot of things are made in China. If people choose not to buy things made in China that is there individual choice, but over 1,000 people have voted with their purchase of the Skycatcher. And as Cessna stated in their defense... this is a global economy and even though people may think their American made cars are made with all American parts and all American labour than they simply don't know that industry.
People love to shop at Walmart's because of the prices and if you check the origin of products there I am sure you will find that Walmart's does not discriminate against China in their purchasing decisions. Adam also get's into pricing and payload, both of which he spins negatively. The payload suits the training environment, 2 people, average 1.5 hour flight. Cessna is not selling it as a family cruiser. And they priced it to be competitive with planes they considered their competition.
The Zenair aircraft he mentions in his article is not even on the radar in the Light Sport Aircraft sales figures I have seen. The 3 top tricycle gear LSA's on the market today are made in Germany, Czech Republic, and Italy. Obviously, people are not making their purchasing decisions based on where these airplanes are made. I have been talking with a lot of flight schools who are certainly looking at upgrading their fleets over the next 3-10 years. (Most school fleets consist predominantly of Cessna's and even Cessna can't build a plane that will last forever). I have talked with representatives from COPA and with ATAC to try and get a rally going for a product I believe will be the next big trainer world wide.
What is not mentioned in the article is that Cessna has built single engine airplanes for 80 years to teach the world to fly! They have the experience to build airplanes to withstand the rigorous environment of flight training which I believe they are doing with the Skycatcher. And that's why people are buying Skycatchers! Yes because of branding but the Cessna brand is great because they do build good airplanes that perform for many, many hours in very demanding flight operations! And they support their customers for the long run. That's why people buy!
If the flight training schools in Canada do not put pressure on their regulatory agency, Transport Canada, to accommodate this new category then it will be our loss here in Canada. And I would think that a national organization of aircraft owners would be promoting any products that promote progression in aviation - EAA and AOPA seem to be overwhelmingly supportive in the United States. I'm sure there are many others that will support the case for the Skycatcher!
Leggat Aviation Ltd.