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Making the case for building the SkyCatcher in China
7 Dec 2007 4:50 PM by Tom Aniello
Tags: ResponseReleasedManufacturingFacilityengineeringcommentsCessna SkycatcherCessna BrandASTM

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Since Cessna's announcement in late November that the new SkyCatcher would be assembled in China, we have received many comments from people obviously very passionate about flying and what the Cessna brand means to them. Through this blog, by e-mail, by phone, and by regular mail, many people have lauded Cessna's foresight, and to be frank, an equal number have taken us to task.

 

Much of the feedback we heard was emotionally charged, and that's understandable given how emotion is a big part of the reason many of us enjoy the freedom of flight. However, a great many remarks appeared to be based on incomplete or inaccurate information. While we certainly don't expect to convince everyone that the decision to build the SkyCatcher in China was the right thing to do, we thought you might appreciate some additional insight into Cessna's business decision to do so.

 First and foremost, it needs to be understood that the SkyCatcher will be designed, tested, constructed, and serviced to the same Cessna quality standards that enabled us to become the world’s largest manufacturer of general aviation airplanes. Cessna backs the SkyCatcher completely, the same as any other aircraft we produce. We have complete confidence that Shenyang Aircraft Company (SAC) will build the SkyCatcher to Cessna’s rigorous standards for safety, quality, reliability, value, and performance. So much so, that we are putting Cessna’s brand on the aircraft and our reputation behind it.

 

The global aerospace industry, regardless of country of origin, is one of the most highly regulated for quality and safety. China is not exempt from these rules. Cessna engineers, based in Wichita, are conducting the complete design for the SkyCatcher, and will be responsible for all ASTM compliance work. In addition, Cessna employees will be on-site at SAC to oversee manufacturing, quality assurance and technical design. Make no mistake; this will be a Cessna aircraft.

 

SAC was chosen to manufacture the SkyCatcher only after an exhaustive global search that included every region of the U.S. Our requirements were simple, but aggressive: produce a high-quality aircraft, in very large volumes, which conforms to global safety and performance standards. In addition, to allow the product to be priced competitively in its category, we needed a partner willing to make a significant investment in manufacturing infrastructure.

 

SAC came out on top in all areas of measure. They offer proven aviation expertise and the capacity Cessna needs to deliver up to 700 SkyCatchers each year. In business since 1951, SAC has a long history of producing complete aircraft and major assemblies for the global aviation industry’s largest manufacturers, including Boeing, Airbus, IAI, and Bombardier.

 

Like most consumer products today, it’s difficult to classify a product as being from a single source country. Is a Toyota Tundra manufactured by U.S. workers in San Antonio, Texas, a Japanese automobile? Is Harley-Davidson an all-American motorcycle even though components are sourced from the U.S., Mexico, China, Japan and Australia? The SkyCatcher was designed in the U.S. and will be assembled in China primarily from U.S.-sourced components, including the engine and avionics. The market for manufactured goods has truly become global for nearly everything we purchase today. It applies to automobiles, televisions, aircraft, clothing and a myriad of other goods. And that’s a good thing, because it provides value which consumers demand, and the business relationships help improve political stability throughout the world.

 

Many people expressed concern that Cessna would be taking valuable jobs and sending them outside of the United States. While it seemed to go unnoticed amongst all the recent news events, Cessna announced in November that we will be adding 1,500 new jobs at our U.S.-based facilities in 2008. This represents a 10% increase in our global workforce. The biggest challenge we face today as a corporation is filling this demand for qualified employees.

 

The importance of the success of the SkyCatcher to the U.S.-led aviation industry cannot be overlooked. The population of licensed pilots has dropped roughly 30 percent since 1980. The light sport aircraft market is based on providing an aircraft priced low enough to counteract the rising costs of owning and flying aircraft and attempt to reverse this trend. At less than half the price of a new C-172 Skyhawk, the SkyCatcher will bring the cost of flight training down to a level accessible to a much greater number of people. This will result in a significant increase in new pilot starts, as well as enable pilots who have been priced out of the market to fly a new aircraft.

 

By entering this market, Cessna will be creating an entirely new generation of aviators and customers. It is a global economy now, and the demand for flight training isn’t just in the United States. In fact, the largest flight training demand today is coming from countries outside the U.S., like China and India. To provide future growth and employment stability, Cessna must ensure our products are offered competitively in all growing markets.

 

History has shown that people tend to continue buying from companies that provide them with outstanding ownership experiences. As new people are introduced to aviation, it is essential to Cessna’s long-term growth that they have an outstanding experience with the Cessna brand. As we witnessed in the U.S. over the past 80 years, once introduced to the benefits of aviation, people want to use aircraft to fly farther, faster, and in more comfort. This leads to demand for additional aircraft to meet our customers’ needs. In turn, this leads to increased production rates for all Cessna aircraft, which trickles down to our suppliers, service centers, flight schools, FBOs, and local communities.

 

I hope this information provides you with additional insight into Cessna’s decision to build the SkyCatcher in China. Whether you learned to fly in a Cessna 120 many years ago or will be picking up a new Citation X next week, we value you as a Cessna customer. And, we value your opinion as to how we’re meeting your needs. How we build the SkyCatcher is different than what we’ve done in the past. But, we plan to make sure you still experience the joy of flight the same way Cessna has made it possible for 80 years – safely, economically, and with aircraft and support you can trust.

 

Best regards,
 

Tom Aniello
Vice President, Marketing

 



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Vince R said:

  I am sorry to hear that the Skycatcher will be produced outside the USA. Yu have very good business reasons for doing so. Sometimes it takes a bigger vision than just the bottom line on a spreadsheet to decide the success or failure of a venture.

You have essentially handed the LSA industry to the Chinese on a platter.

I believe that the repercussions to this decision will reach far across the entire LSA business. It is possible that by this single decision, The LSA industry as a whole will become fragmented into the CHESSNA (Chinese Cessna) following and a splintered group of other manufacturers. The best case scenario evolves around CHessna (sic) becoming the Microsoft of the LSA industry. I believe that this will stymie growth and innovation. On the other hand, the push back may be so hard that the entire LSA industry dies out from constant squabbling and bickering over the loss of yet another industry born in the USA.

If the aircraft were being sold for $30,000 that would be a different matter.

Perhaps the aircraft will price itself out of the mainstream and spark a new round of fundamental change in the low en GA marketplace.

I foresee a return to homebuilding in the good old USA. MAye you will be able to sell surplus Chinese Skycatcher parts to homebuilders.

I wish you luck in your venture. My wife and I were close to placing an order when this issue came up. Watch for a flat line on orders now that people realize that the price will drop after Chinese production spools up....

I won't even go into tehh human roghts and environmental and arbitrarily fixed yen/dollar ratio issues. I am sure they have been commented to death!

Pilots who won't be Skycatcher owners,
Former C172 owners and Cessna customers,

Vince & Rita R.
Zephyrhills, FL



December 10, 2007

David Heino said:

  Please reconsider your decision to manufacture the aircraft in China. It can not save you more than $5,000 per aircraft when you take into account freight, crating, and shipping items back and forth to China.

I will not purchase this aircraft if it is made in China.
December 11, 2007

David Reinhart said:

  You guys don't get it. This is not a technical or engineering issue. It is not even a business issue. You have chosen to manufacture this product in a country that many U.S. citizens view with increasing suspicion and mistrust because of know problems with consumer products. Add to that a miserable record on human rights and terrible environmental regulations. All this adds up to a PR nightmare for Cessna and you're trying to stick a finger in the dam to stop the flood. If I were you I'd just halt my production plans now. I don't see how you're ever going to get out of this quagmire.
December 11, 2007

Greg Y. said:

  I had planned on this being my first new aircraft. Now I will be looking at other brands. Too bad, I was very excited about this aircraft. Maybe you will have better luck marketing this to countries outside of the USA.
December 12, 2007

Howard Bucy said:

  I was looking forward to the SkyCatcher becoming operational and was talking with the owner of the flight school I instruct at about the possibility of getting one. If you go ahead with your plans to produce this thing in China, I won't go within 10 feet of one. Build itin Wichita or Independence or any where in the states. Thank you for your time. Howard
December 12, 2007

kneck said:

  Shame on you. America has supported you since your infancy and now you turn your back on the people who created, supported, nurtured and had faith in you. People in this country NEED jobs, they LOVE to build airplanes and love to work for American companies like, Ford, Chevy, and Cessna. They are VERY good at the work they do and work with Pride. I will not EVER buy a Cessna that says "Made in China" on it,,,, EVER. You should just state, "we are making it in America".. and after that statement figure out how to make it work, if you can't,,, quit and hire someone who can,,,,, a good business mindset would welcome the challenge, not farm it out to another country..... again... shame on you, we are more dissapointed than words can say :(
December 12, 2007

kneck said:

  P.S. Maybe you should consider building the SkyCatcher in BOTH countries. That way you can meet your Global needs and those of us in the USA will buy ours produced here. A win win situation. Please think about it.
December 12, 2007

Rob Mark said:

  I'd like to ask the person who mentioned that the LSA industry was born in the U.S. If that's so, how come no one has said anything until now about the fact that only about 20% of the LSAs manufactured today are built here in the states.

Must be because no one sees the Slovakians, or the Germans as an econonic threat. And I'm not denying the Chinese are a threat to the economy. But we also can't go around the world beating everyone up.

How about saying thanks Cessna for jumping into the middle of a dying flight training industry? And why the heck do you think the flight training industry in this country is in a mess? Because that part of our industry has so little leadership.

Would China have been my first choice to produce the Skycatcher ... probably not. But we are also faced with some severe economic issues in the U.S. that need solutions. Cessna is at least trying.

And let's be serious. They didn't have to build the Skycatcher.

All these comments sound like that same old posturing stuff ... find a bad guy you can hang all your problems on.
December 12, 2007

G.W. said:

  Greed !

Just wait until you parts for your aircraft down the road...
December 12, 2007

Dave Holt said:

  Good decision to assemble in China. As labor costs trump productiviity you make the decision you made. You comment on the Toyota Tundra. The Japanese labor costs now way outpace our own, as do real estate concerns and, low and behold, San Antonio has a world class plant and a lot of jobs. It works both ways. Good for Cessna, I am looking forward to a new C-162 (I still think 'Skycatcher' had to be a last place name selection).
December 12, 2007

Bob Renes said:

  There IS no case to be made for building the 162 in China. (The name that you have chosen is not attractive and I won't use it.) There is no case to be made for exporting still more American jobs to China or anywhere else. Such poor business decisions do not bode well for this venture, or for Cessna's future. Either manufacture it in the U.S. or forget the idea. Oh, and should you recover your senses, continue doing the right thing by sharpening your pencils and establishing a realistic and competitive price.
December 12, 2007

Homer said:

  Tom - Your comments on production in China are valid, but as a customer with a deposit on a 162 I am dissapointed that I had to come to your site to read it. Cessna's inability to directly communicate with existing customers will loose you more business than production in China.

My wife and I (both pilots) are on the fence about continuing with our 162 order.
December 13, 2007

Rob Mark said:

  No case for manufacturing outside the U.S. huh? I'll bet that's what the Toyota and the Honda folks said years ago before they decided to build those plants here.

They saw the marketplace and reacted to it because they saw the potential early on ... and they proved to be right. My guess is a lot of Japanese were uncomfortable at first.

We're really arguing a number of different concepts here in the same post ... One, the reason for building the Skycatcher, two, where it should be built and three perhaps how much cost a company should be willing to absorb in the name of the flag.
December 13, 2007

Tom Henretta said:

  I placed an order for a 162 soon after seeing it at air venture 2007 .I have been looking for a LSA to replace my 1980 172 Cutlas due to a past history of heart disease and the yearly problems of obtaining a third class physical. I even flew two different models that were poorly made. I hope the 162 will be as good as the planes built in Kansas
December 13, 2007

George Wei said:

  As part of the GA community, I have owned and flown Cessna AC for 35 years and feel safe with their USA made product. I will not buy a Chinese made Cessna for safety reasons and I’m proud to support American ac industry. Shame on Cessna’s decision to make this ac in China.
December 13, 2007

Aerospace worker said:

  This is about more than just ONE plane being built in China. The American worker needs to take a long look at himself and at his union. The real question is "Have we negotiated ourselves out of a job?" Is this about corporate greed or is it worker greed? If aerospace workers did not demand $30 an hour plus the best benefits in any industry, perhaps we could still compete in the global marketplace. Until the “playing field” had been leveled somewhat we should expect more and more new American companies to outsource their work. It is a shame Cessna has gone to China, but it should not be a surprise. (This was written as I sit at my computer making $35 an hour)
December 13, 2007

Joe Daniel said:

  What a mistake. Cessna could still produce a high volume, economical product in the U.S. Sure it might cost marginally more when things are said and done. Mr. Aniello, can you put a price on the lost confidence from the American pilot for what has been a truly American product?
December 14, 2007

Carl said:

  Tom, I'm sorry, you're blog did not sell me on your Chinese built airplane, nor will anything defending your decision. I buy American made products, from companies who pride themselves in this great country. Count this as one less 162 you'll sell.
December 14, 2007

Greg Smith said:

  It's hard to believe a Cessna built in China, I'm sorry but I'm no longer interested in the 162 I'll buy elsewhere.Oh buy the way who sells these things anyway Wal-Mart ?
December 14, 2007

Rob Mark said:

  I just want to make sure I understand all the anti-162 comments here, but particularly those who demand we all buy American.

That means you have no desire to purchase any LSA made for the most part then, even those made in Germany, or Slovakia or Russia, correct?

OK, fair enough if that is your perspective.

But I also must agree with the Aerospace Worker's comment that we at least consider whether many of us may have negotiated ourselves right out of a job.
December 14, 2007

Michael Burke said:

  I love the thought of a new, modern, and inexpensive airplane. If it saves money to make the plane in China, it makes it affordable to someone with an average income. I can't wait to see the planes enter the airspace. Bravo Cessna!
December 15, 2007

Ced said:

  I think the reaction to this news is probably something Cessna higher ups had not considered and should seriously take time to reflect on. The 162 is a nice looking bird but the GA market is populated by mostly older wealthy people. This market is very Pro USA, typically drives American cars, and is not interested in an airplane built in china.

And the new market they are trying to reach is loathe to spend $120k on a plane. This leaves the new Cessna in a bad position. Either it needs to come down in price to compete with the other LSAs or be built here. This direction is not healty for Cessna, GA, or the LSA market.
December 15, 2007

R Moore said:

  Terrible decision on building the skycatcher in China, They have lower standards. Look at all the toys coming in with lead based paint. I bet Mattel regrets doing business with them now.
December 15, 2007

Chris R, said:

  My father builds LSA's outside the US, so I do understand the reasoning behind China but I also understand that most of the pilots looking for an LSA are concerned with both the quality and reliability of your product, can you blame them?
December 16, 2007

Chris R, said:

  Guys, China... out of all places!
December 16, 2007

Agustin Bennasar, Madrid .Spain said:

  You can do what you want, but believe me, if there is space for the Skycatcher in the chine’s market, then or with you, or copying it with less standards, or ….I don’t know how, they will do it, after that, they will present an export version in the US. Market.
December 16, 2007

William Hughes said:

  I recently acquired my light pilot license. However my experimental light sport fixed wing airplane is only a single seater. I am considering two seaters now. Because of Cessna's china decision THAT plane is totally out of the running. I can find somethis else with a much higher percentage of american labor and parts.
December 16, 2007

Paul K said:

  I am a long-time Cessna owner, having owned more than a dozen different models over the past fifty years. I also continue to instruct in a Cessna 150 that was built in 1973. My flight school has two 162s on order. I am absolutely confident that Cessna will set a standard of quality, reliability and customer support for the 162 that will be the envy of the aircraft manufacturing community.
Their many decades track record of customer support and the demonstrated durability of their training aircraft is unmatched by any other General Aviation Manufacturer. They are the Global Leader and as such have made a decision to produce the 162 in China with a Global business perspective.
I, for one, congratulate them for their courageous descision to build the aircraft in a country that will provide all of us with the affordability we all need and want.

Paul K
December 16, 2007

Dave Heller said:

  It may well be a solid business decision to build the Sky Catcher in China, but there is no possible purchase decision that will permit me to buy that aircraft. In addition to building a foreign aircraft, you've made a decision to install an old-technology Continental engine for the power plant, rather than the new Light Sport standard Rotax engine. Frankly, I don't know how Cessna could get the two most basic decisions wrong but you did. Tell your Chinese workforce, good luck for me.
December 17, 2007

Mike said:

  Congratulations Cessna on a wise business decision. China is on a road to Capitalisim. This is evidence. In fact, Chinese people have a good opinion of America and Americans. Compare that to the French!

When one complains about foreign made products, well, how about imports of oil from Venezuala, Saudi and other human rights challenged countries. Surely by the reasoning of some posters here one would not put oil from these countries in your US made aircraft?
December 19, 2007

David Cummings said:

  What ever happened to Made in America.
Cessna should be putting America and Americans First!
We are fast becoming a second rate country... all while China continues to grow and stock it's shelves with American Dollars... Well this cancels my dream of owning a Cessna...
December 19, 2007

Paul said:

  I was seriously interested until now. I am going to buy a Light Sport, but now Cessna is off the bidders list.
December 19, 2007

John Mcallister, Canada said:

  Here in Canada we were a bit surprise of Cessna's decision to have their Skycatcher made in China. Ouah....this is very indicative of the rapid decay of the American manufacturing power against the Chinese giant. This is also very indicative of the capitulation, without condition, of Textron management towards their own ability in producing quality goods at reasonable prices in the USA. It looks like the Made in the USA will not be up in the air for much longer…
December 19, 2007

Mike said:

  China? Are you kidding me? I'll buy something else.
December 19, 2007

David said:

  I think it will be interesting to see the long term impact of this decision. I would not have chosen to build in China because of the PR issues and because the Chinese have a history of stealing any intellectual property (designs) to which they are exposed. My feeling is that Cessna is building this plane primarily to fill a market niche so that 162 owners will buy more expensive Cessna airplanes later, as they will not be making much on these planes. I applaud Cessna's decision to build the plane, but I suspect there will be a Chinese copy shorty. I also think it is ironic that people are complaining about the decision to use an American (Continental) engine instead of a Rotax (Austrian).
December 20, 2007

N Celik said:

  Did I not read your comment that the US-Built SkyCatcher would cost $71K more? So, a US-built warmed-up 152 supposedly would cost $180K - at the same time one can buy an European Carbon-fiber LSA for about $130K while the Euro is $1.47 (I won't mention names).

If this is true, then it does not point to how-cheap-can-China-manufacture, but it points to the fact that Cessna's production methods are not world class.

In fact, the only explanation that I would accept as being smart business is that Cessna wants to have strategic footing in China, but that is doubtful with this arrangement.

I am not opposed to building outside the US or even some parts of Asia. Unfortunately, I have been in China and I am familiar with the production methods (and results) there. The SkyCatcher was on my list, but is no longer. Good luck though.
December 20, 2007

Ken said:

  Everything about this plane is great! The engine is my personal favorite, it runs good, at lower RPMs than a Rotax and will be a lot cheaper to rebuild when the time comes. Everything is perfect... except the fact it will built in China. This probably will rank as the worst business and PR decision in 2008. I would have bought one, but I think I'll keep my old Piper and fix it up with the money I would have spent on this junk made in China.
December 21, 2007

CPC Owner & Operator said:

  Nicely written Tom, thank you.

I graduated with a business degree and what Cessna is doing makes perfect sense. It's a business decision in order to better serve the customer. I'm holding onto my order of five 162s.

How many of us on this board own a Toyota or Honda? My BMW from Germany, was built in South Africa and I bought it right here in the US.... and guess what? I love it! And I will love my fleet of Skycatchers just as much as my the other new Cessnas on my line.
December 21, 2007

Thomas Morehouse said:

  Per EAA, the Sport Pilot program was created to bring ultralight fliers under FAA governance. The Light Sport Aircraft LSA designation was created to bring "fat" ultralights under FAA governance. Neither was created to make flying "affordable again".

So Cessna has chosen to build a Light Sport Aircraft in China. Will more non-pilots in the USA decide to become pilots because of this? A LSA with a relatively high stall speed, a Continental engine, and low usable load? I think not. But it is a good way to market another small plane under a "famous" trademark.

Having more choices is always good; but China's affluence is growing as ours is waning. Perhaps the 162 was *really* targeted toward the Chinese, not the USA.

Tom

December 21, 2007

Hal said:

  Tom
I know you won’t read this, but even though your reasons for moving manufacture to China are probably sound in the business sense they probably will lead to disaster. Consider that first a lot of pilots and owners are very proud of their aircraft and one of the reasons for this is that they are for the most part made in America. All Cessna owners have this pride. To tarnish our aircraft with one made in a repressive place like China is an insult. I don’t care if my airplane is 48 years old, I am proud that it was made by the company that Clyde started. The same goes for Beech. These are American symbols that are slowly being destroyed by decisions like the one your company has made. Raytheon tried to run Beech but now Hawker has it. It is little wonder that decisions like these are made when these symbols of American manufacturing are just little pieces of much larger corporations like Textron. Sure the market is global. License China to make C162 aircraft for sale to India but make those for us here and subsidize the American market with the profits from the sale of aircraft to India and China and whatever other poor nation wants them. Would you really sell C162s to India at the same price as we would pay – not likely they will probably get price breaks on them. Cessna should reconsider. You won’t sell many airplanes in the U.S. if they only make 700 per year and most of that number goes to other countries anyway.
I wish Cessna good success anyway, but hope this project fails utterly.
December 22, 2007

Anders Graff said:

  I can no longer consider buying this aircraft, as it is made in China. For every reason stated by my fellow pilots regarding this 'decision,' and as a person who has watched my job's (Yes, two of them) leave the U.S. for a low cost region, I am actually feeling insulted by Cessna.

As a person who has purchased two new 182's from Cessna (A&K Leasing, LLC)I feel I have paid for the personal leave to state to the decision makers at Cessna: Unjustifiable; your decision has just cost you a sale.

I was considering the 162, seriously considering it, as I am in the market, but, I'll just buy a Diamond or an old 150, or a competing LSA.
December 22, 2007

j smith said:

  "Made in China" Imagine if GM or Ford put that sticker on their vehicles. I long considered the Cessna name as one of the great symbols of Freedom in America. But like everyone else they have proven that they are just a company like any other. The real reason production cost are cheaper in china is because we buy their crap everyday. So they keep making it. Add Cessna to other great brands that have bittent the hand that feeds them and moved their production to china. Private aircraft from cessna should never be marketed as affordable. If Ferrari moved their production to china, do you thing anyone would pay a quarter million for a car? That answer would be "NO". You have a brand that is the Ferrari of airplanes, why cheap out now by producing the lada of airplanes.
December 23, 2007

Al Carroll said:

  I also was seriously considering the Skycatcher to be my first aircraft. BUT, emotionally charged or not, I will not buy a Chinese built aircraft. Being an A&P mechanic, I can't believe that the FAA would even approve the type certificate coming out of China. Hey, I will reconsider buying a Skycatcher if you offer it in kit form so I can build it myself. At least then I will know that it is built properly! Computers and electronics are one thing, but my life is TOTALLY another. I will not stake my life on Chinese craftsmanship! Keep production in the USA and you won't have the problems being raised in these BLOGS.
December 23, 2007

Jon P. said:

  Tom, the problem with building the Skycatcher in China is that it is starting a trend at Cessna that won't stop until the Citation and every part for every Cessna flying is built in China or some other developing country. If you save on labor costs, materials, and facilities by building the Skycatcher in China this year, then you can save even more by building the 172 in China next year. And so it goes until your entire product line is manufactured overseas. You will have a handful of execs in the US reaping the profits, a sales staff selling it, and a lot of laid off aircraft workers looking for other jobs. It doesn't matter to you. Your one of the executives that will still have a job, a fat paycheck, and plenty of other perks. After all, how many of your rank and file can afford to buy new airplanes now? The people that buy them aren't the people that build them.

Will the people that buy airplanes care whether it's made in China? I don't know. Most have the same cut costs/maximize profits objectives. You mention the drop in the pilot population. In order to grow the pilot population, your suggesting that cheap imported airplanes will help reduce the cost of flying and increase the number of pilots. But how much is the cost of the airplane to a flight school a factor in the overall cost? $5 an hour? Once America has outsourced enough jobs, it is likely that much fewer people will be able to afford to fly in this country. It would be different if you were building airplanes in China to sell to China.

You also mentioned the addition on 1500 new jobs in the US. That is only because the overall demand in the US has increased. This will certainly trend the other way as the production of more Cessna products gets moved to China or other countries. Just look at every other manufacturing company in the US that has moved production out of the country. At some point all the manufacturing facilities in the US are closed, and the jobs in the US are gone.
December 23, 2007

jon said:

  Cessna has had to make a business decision. American workers have unfortunately placed themselves in a position in which economically, it does not pencil out for Cessna to both have both a quality product (which we expect from them) and an affordable offering. This is the case in many industries which outsource. It is too bad that 162s will be built in China, but Cessna can not build them here at a loss.
December 23, 2007

Dennis D said:

  Hi,
The Chenyang factory is a bold move for Cessna and I believe you have designed a winner in the 162. I think metal is the best material for this category of aircraft. The 0-200 continental is a great choice.
I don't know if there is a large enough demand, but I would like to see a tail wheel version, any chance?
My only complaint is that I have been trying to connect with Cessna to get information on the purchase process for about a month now. I am in central Canada and the closest listed dealer is about 850 miles west in Edmonton. I am a similar distance from Witchita. Still no response from either.
Thanks
December 24, 2007

Mark said:

  I hate to see another product outsourced off shore but I can understand why you are doing it. I came from a U.S. manufacturing corporation where half the day was spent worrying about being politically correct, writing performance revues and job descriptions, and figuring out why we couldn't manufacture something. We were non-productive and expensive to say the least. The corporation shut down all manufacturing in the U.S. and sent it to Mexico where they simply got the job done. This is another wake up call for the U.S. worker. I am on the fence as I am in the market and I'll look at your plane but I am afraid I still fly the U.S. flag in our home.
December 25, 2007

Ray Devlin said:

  I very much understand Cessna's decision to move production of the "SkyCather" to China. I am disappointed however that the money I had saved up to purchase one of these planes will have to be bank-rolled for a few more years to purchase a full C-172 instead. I will not be turning my back on Cessna as the rest of their fleet is not only still manufactured here in the United States, but still stands for durability and innovation.

If nothing else, Cessna's decision to ALLOW all of you to openly post on their website shows they DO care about their customers and their opinions.

The SkyCatcher would have been great! No matter- I will cherish my C-172 better even though I wont be able to purchase that for another few years!

Good Luck Cessna.
December 26, 2007

Dave said:

  I applaud Cessna's decision to build the SkyCatcher, look forward to flying one.

December 26, 2007

Capt. Denis Murphy said:

  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. I would like to buy two more C-162!!!! I am putting my faith and trust in the Cessna Aircraft Company ability to deliver a top notch aircraft with no quality control problems and on time.Please Cessna contact me via email.
December 26, 2007

Tim O'Brien said:

  As a software professional and a new pilot who has received training at an authorized Cessna training center I have had the pleasure learning how to fly in your aircraft. I’ve found them to be sound airplanes with very reliable and predictable flight characteristics. A genuine pleasure to fly. I’ve been considering the purchase of either an LSA or a standard GA aircraft – a Cessna aircraft in particular.

While your decision to offshore production of the 162 may be a fundamentally sound business decision, it is in my opinion a universally dumb thing to do – for your company, your customers and for the United States of America.

I’ve decided to hold off on my purchase for a time to see if you are going to listen to your customers. You may not think that most people would care if you send jobs and the production of this aircraft off shore. Read the tea leaves guys. With all of the problems that have come to light with products made in China, you are asking the GA community to “trust” that they will create a safe and functional aircraft which is up to Cessna’s – and US standards. The aircraft may pass every test and certification that you and the FAA come up with. I suspect that it will never pass the “sniff” test with customers like me.

Don’t forget that the GA community has a choice of what aircraft we want to own and fly. If you continue with this flawed decision, you may find that many pilots will “walk away” from Cessna. I will if you don’t come to your senses.
December 26, 2007

Anthony Clark said:

  Shenyang Aircraft announced today that they have developed a new 100 seat airliner. Although supposedly a clean sheet design, it looks suspiciously like the Boeing 717 (DC9, MD90). Avweb reports that SAC likely copied the MD90 while building them under contract during the 90's. The "new" airliner is expected to take 60% of the Asian market away from Boeing. So has Boeing really benefited in the long run by doing business in China? Cessna wants to build Skycatchers for the emerging Asian market. How long will it be before SAC copies Cessna's design and takes their market share?
December 26, 2007

Joe said:

  Cessna Leadership,

I'm sadden by your decision. Cessna is as much America as apple pie and baseball (great commercial maybe) ... think about that! Many of the LSAs being produced and sold here are from out of the country as well, so from a business perspective the move makes sense. However, what if you built the Skycatcher here in America for North Americans, and in China for world distribution. What a concept :-) You can do both and continue your goal of expanding GA to more of us who want to take the challenge and secure our "tickets."

Respectfully,
Joe


December 27, 2007

Gary R. Grella said:

  I couldn't believe what i was reading about Cessna moving to Communist China. Cessna had always been a symbol of America. I can't express just how shocked i am. How disalusioned i am. I planned on the Skycatcher being my first plane. What's happening to this country ? Why are we turning all our industries over to foreign countries and especialling including unfreindly ones. Who is allowing this ? I think we need a new awareness. I hope and prey the Cessna and Textron reverse this questionable decission.
December 27, 2007

dave said:

  It is amusing to read the comments attempting to defend the manufacture of the 162 in China, especially the ones referring to owning cars such as BMW, Mercedes, etc. Apples to oranges, European manufacturers have a rep for decent products. Wasn't it a Chinese auto that failed crash tests so miserably recently?

Look at other products coming from China. Do you really think US designers requested that lead paint be used on products manufactured in China? Of course not, but the Chinese were happy to make some cheap substitutions. All along the product chain Chinese officials looked the other way as this was done. It doesn't matter if this was by accident, confusion, or deliberate action, the end result was unsafe products sent to the US market.

I agree with other comments, it seems Cessna is moving manufacturing to China in order to sell more product overseas, not to revive the GA market here in the US.
December 27, 2007

Pete said:

  When I reserved mine at Oshkosh the first day, I was told that it had not been decided where the plane will be built. I fully expected it to be China. We can't build the same quality here for the same price. Take a look at the forks on a Harley. Wheels too! It is a globle economy. To get a quality product from a quality company outsourcing is a must. If a few poeple drop out maybe I can get mine sooner!!
December 27, 2007

Kenneth Boyd said:

  Sorry but your justification for the China production decision reads like an ozone hose down from the good folks in the public relations department. Given the currency valuation, political stability, and transportation cost issues; I seriously doubt Cessna is saving much by sourcing the C162 in China. You could just as easily build it in the US where you can share production facility and tooling costs with higher margin products. If you were going to sell the C162 for $60K (which is about what a C150 sold for 35 years ago in inflation adjusted dollars), I would buy your China production arguement. But since you intend to sell this 900 pound aircraft for $100K , your arguement has a hollow ring. You really should reconsider this ill concieved decision. A better path would be to source airframe assemblies from China (or anywhere else for that matter) and do final assembly and testing in the US.
December 28, 2007

Ken said:

  I'll buy something with the proudly built in USA tag on it instead. Sorry guys, you let me down, I'll give someone else my money.
December 29, 2007

Concerned said:

  This comment will be the last time I waste time on Cessna. I was studying the market when sport pilot came out in 04 and was very happy when it did. Then I started thinking about the possibilities when a key US manufacturer got in the game (Cessna). So I patiently waited. I thought that for a thirty something guy with a young family and a respectable (not Dr. or Attorney or privileged retiree) income that an American made LSA would be the "ticket." I was very disappointed with the pricing that was floated around but decided hey, partnerships can work well if done right and aviation WILL always be a rich man’s sport (to bad I have already caught the bug). I also thought that you get what you pay for and American quality would trump all. And now to have all those years of pent up hope dashed by such a STUPID decision no matter how you justify. Perhpas everything that I was looking forward to was taken from me when I read this in the EAA Sport Pilot magazine. So much so that I decided I had to throw my hat in the ring on this one. Yes, I will stay in my little affordable Aeronca Champ partnership and spend my time researching viable options that can claim “Made in America.”

I just don't think you understand what you are doing. There are only so many rich old guys that lost medicals. I know your financial people crunched the numbers and it may make the most sense to the bottom line. Every new airport in China can have a fleet of 162’s for you to sell them. Just don't think that you are still an American company to us real Americans (those that go out and work for a living).

By the way the name Skycatcher is stupid.

Good luck Chessna.
December 29, 2007

Rob Gandy said:

  I applaud Cessna for their initiative in trying to revitalize a disabled and generally declining general aviation market. Cessna has ventured to China to help fuel the changes that need to happen to make GA what it was and could be again. I believe that Cessna's decision to manufacture in China will not have safety repercussions when these aircraft return to the states. Honestly, with the way some of you write I trust Shenyang Aircraft quite a bit more than anything you folks might build in your garage. Also, if the idea of you flying an aircraft that was made in China is such a big deal, why don't you fork out a few more dollars buy a 172 and get a real private pilots license instead of the LSA rating. Or, you could always build an ultralight...
December 29, 2007

Ed said:

  Will buy a used American made aircraft now. Give mine to Pete.
December 29, 2007

John said:

  If China can build this 'MD80 knock-off', I have no qualms about their ability to build a lowly 162.

Right now I have a '66 150 very well disassembled, structure opened up for some corrosion removal and I am not one bit impressed by the workmanship of those boys in Wichita. From poorly drilled holes to double holes to a few holes with missing rivets to poorly bucked
rivets. Their workmanship does not impress me one bit. Some of it definately is substandard with regards to aircraft workmanship. It would be easy for Chinese workmanship to surpass what I'm seeing on this ole gal.

When can I go to China, purchase a 162 for $40,000 and bring it home. Oh, my 150M is still keeping me happy.
December 31, 2007

Kevin said:

  When you compare a Japanese or Korean car to a Chinese made aircraft...I don't think you quite get it. How many Chinese made cars do you see on the road in the United States? How many 20 year old Japanese cars do you see on the road in the United States? Now compare that to the number of 20, 30 and even 40 year old American automobiles along with American made aircraft in use dating back to the beginnning of the 20th century. There is a lot of difference in spending $12k on cheap transportation to get to work, compared to $100k plus investment which the average American cannot even afford unless they forfeit any thoughts of owning a house or having a family. I believe you screwed up big time on this one Cessna. Even if you can somehow manage to produce a Chinese aircraft which has quality construction, you can't produce a "safety record" if there are few sold. I am predicting that you will have numerous 162s sitting unsold which will need to be liquidated at your expense.
I, more than anyone, wish for the U.S. aircraft industry to produce an inexpensive aircraft which the average American can afford to purchase and fly, but paying $100K plus for a Chinese made aircraft isn't a smart investment as I see it. Did anyone there ever look at what else you could buy for $100K or less?
January 01, 2008

Al Moyer said:

  I have read all of your reasons for sending your LSA to China to be built and have read all of the comments on your website. If I can "unscramble" my brain long enough (after trying to digest all the information) may I make the following statemant?
"My wife and I are were long time working union people and have seen jobs leave our nation because of world wide competition. We can scream all we want but until concessions are made by American workers and American owners of our manufacturing plants the trend to move jobs to other countries will continue". Having said this, I would charge you (Cessna) and our American workers to try and make things work to manufacture your plane here in the U.S. We CAN stay competitive world wide. Thank you...
January 01, 2008

Jonathan said:

  I am deeply disappointed in Cessna's decision to manufacture the 162 over-seas and especially in China. What a joke!

Now every time I see the "Cessna" badge on my yoke, I think about your decision. It makes me sick... 3 generations of my family flew Cessna (American Made) quality aircraft.

Now I am considering selling my Cessna and purchasing something else. Whats next guys? Call centers in India when I call your main office number?

Jonathan ex-Cessna owner.
Jan-2008
January 02, 2008

Rod said:

  Will you be marketing the 162 through Walmart?
January 02, 2008

Antoine said:

  One bit of information which is missing is: how much more would the Skycatcher retail for in the U.S. if it was manufactured here?

I would not buy a Chinese-made aircraft. Cessna might get the quality control down, but, we have an unsustainable trade deficit with China, which is a big concern for me.

I'm starting my flying lessons, and will eventually buy an airplane with a friend. We'll start off with a Cessna 150 time builder for $30,000, then upgrade. But it won't be Chinese-made. Probably a Legend Cub, Cub Crafter, Eagle, or another U.S. made airplane. Or one from a country with which we don't have an unsustainable trade deficit.
January 02, 2008

Mike Guttery said:

  Cessna this is not OK! You have sold your corporate soul to the devil! I am so glad I listened to my wife, and didn't make the 5K down payment at Oshkosh, by-gosh!!!
January 03, 2008

Scott Ramey said:

  Flown for 25 years, owned various Cessnas and looking for an LSA but will never consider a Chinese built aircraft. There are very competitive European, Canadian, or USA (read *democratic* ) built alternatives. This is another one of those absolutely daft decisions made somewhere in corporate management where the air is obviously too thin. What a disappointment.
January 03, 2008

Jeff said:

  I work for a company that designs/builds process equipment in support of various manufacturing operations. About 60% of our sales occur outside of the United States. We also have recently initiated both engineering and sales/support operations in India and China. Both of these countries combined make up almost 40% of the worlds population of 6 billion(and growing)people. In order to sell to these markets, there is a need to establish a presence there.
Your manufacturing decisions are no different than those of the company I work for: achieve the lowest cost/highest quality solution in order to maximize value to the shareholder/customer/corporation.
From a more pragmatic point of view, the decision to fly GA aircraft for most people is a "nice to do" rather than "have to do" activity. It's all part of our pursuit of happiness.
We are all entitled to pursue happiness, but there is no guarantee that we actually find it.
A larger factor looms to overtake the entire GA/LSA movement. As I write this, oil has just hit $100.00 per barrell. India and China's increasing demand for energy to support their rapidly growing economies will continue to put increasing price pressures on remaining oil supplies. Think about it: a resource that took hundreds of millions of years to accumulate will be practically exhausted within this century based on current consumption estimates. I have personally decided that general aviation is not the best recreational activity to pursue in light of the ever increasing operating costs regardless of the price of the airplane. I also have been to Shanghai, China on several occasions and have seen the future with regards to the impact that rapid growth can have on the environment. I am making an effort to lessen my own carbon footprint. The Skycatcher may be a good bet for flight school operations, but personal ownership is getting more difficult to justify. I have also been a sailor for over 20 years. Sailing relys in part on aerodynamics as one manipulates airflow over foils(sails) to create lift resulting in forward motion of the hull through the water. It isn't fast, but it is enjoyable and empowering in it's own way. It takes me as long to sail 60 miles across Lake Erie as it does to fly from the east coast to Europe on a commercial airliner. It makes the world bigger again, and gives you an appreciation for how mankind conducted commerce on a global scale before the invention of the internal combustion engine. Maybe my future avaition interest will involve sailplanes/soaring.
Good luck Cessna. You folks have been at it a long time. You know who your customers are. For the most part 100k is chump change to the wealthiest 1% of americans. I just want to catch the crumbs. Hey, is a used Skycatcher that has been neglected by a wealthy owner and is sold for $25,000.00 on the used market purchased by a "crumbcatcher"?

January 03, 2008

DJD said:

  Looks like a good short term business decision, which is why I can not purchase one. Wall Street has corrupted American economics to the point where the USofA is now a completely dependent (read, in Wall Street parlance, "take over target") country. We can do nothing on our own - we can not manufacture, we can not fuel, we can not even eat, without being subject to the control of other countries. Cessna (and Textron, and all other large "multinational" corporations) argue that it is a global economy - but it isn't, not when competitive forces are not equal. The US aerospace industry is now second class, along with virtually all manufacturing sectors. US education is going second class, and let's not even talk about the dollar, which is a complete international financial travesty. Sure, building in China is a good business decision for today - but not tomorrow. I am voting with my pocket book and probably just leave aviation...
January 03, 2008

Dave MacRae said:

  Somewhere in Cessna there is a bean-counter Power-Point spreadsheet that justifies the manufacture of the 162 in China. A big part of that has to be the obvious intention of looking at the Asian market in the face of a declining US opportunity.

What I find disappointing is that it must have been obvious to Cessna that spam-can manufacturing was an economic non-starter at the point when the first designs for the 162 were penciled out. New materials and manufacturing methods are being exploited by other manufacturers of LSA and all other types of aircraft. Where was Cessna's R&D effort (and leadership) in those areas?

One might also ask, where was, indeed where is, Lycoming's (and Continental's) leadership in new engine design? The writing is on the wall: No 100LL, fewer dollars to pay for whatever fuel there is, and a yawning divide between clunky O-xxx engines and turn-the-key-and-go-150,000 miles without looking under the hood reliability that has become the hall-mark of auto technology.

Is Cessna so hide-bound and inflexible that is cannot muster the spine to take their obvious clout and use it to really revolutionize the GA market once again? Sure it would take a huge effort to get the FAA to come to the party, but who else could lead that charge?

My patriotic juices get flowing when I look at how US companies have allowed short-term thinking to fritter away their leadership in ingenuity and technology that are the real job-creation engines. The Chinese Cessna is just another job-exporting effort along with the car companies such as Ford who have to use Toyota hybrid technology instead of developing their own.

So what do we have for the 162? Sheet aluminum, and rivets. Seventy-five year-old technology, pulled along by a 1930's engine. It really doesn't seem much different than a nose-dragger version of the venerable C140 in which I took my first flying lesson 45 years ago. Even the model number evokes a warmed-over C152.

A billion new students in India & China will love it. So will the Cessna stockholders, because it isn't about GA in the US, it is about corporate profits in a global economy.

Three of the four aircraft that I have owned have been Cessnas. My 1965 C210E soldiers on, and when I give it up in a few years, I'm pretty certain that a 162 won't be on the list.

Maybe I'll build something, like a Breezy on floats. On the other hand I have always REALLY wanted a C195...
January 03, 2008

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