According to a French dealer for Cessna, 80 Skycatcher orders have been cancelled, but Cessna officials in the U.S. say the Wichita giant has just temporarily suspended taking orders for the LSA in Europe.
For many months, my Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association (LAMA) Europe colleague Jan Fridrich and others have tried to convince EASA to adopt the U.S. version of LSA rules, including acceptance of ASTM standards as the means of certification for these light aircraft.
EASA arrived at different rules that demand that producers meet DOA and POA regulations, which are rather expensive and burdensome. (EASA is the European Aviation Safety Agency, roughly the equivalent of FAA for the entire European Union. DOA is Design Organization Approval and POA is Production Organization Approval. In addition EASA demands a Restricted Type Certificate). EASA has accepted ASTM standards via its CS-LSA (Certification Specification [for] Light-Sport Aircraft) but layered on top of this is their DOA/POA/Type Certification requirement.
These requirements resulted in Cessna temporarily suspending taking new orders for the Skycatcher until EASA certification has been granted, according to Cessna spokesman Andy Woodward.
“Reports from various sources indicate that the Cessna Aircraft Co. is canceling plans to sell the Skycatcher in Europe,” he said. “These reports are inaccurate. The Skycatcher program in Europe has been hampered by the differences in aircraft classification between the Europe and the United States. Cessna is working with the EASA to certify the Cessna 162 Skycatcher and we are striving to find an economical solution that benefits our customers and satisfies EASA standards. We will recommence accepting orders when we are clear on a path towards cost effective certification from EASA.
“Some parties are interpreting the return of Skycatcher deposits as being more significant than it is,” he continued. “This is just a step we are taking to make sure we maintain a positive relationship with the Skycatcher customer. It’s impossible to gauge how long certification will take, and we don’t want a procedure that is beyond our control to affect our relationship with our customers.”
Gaining EASA certification is a lengthy — and expensive — process. EASA “Fees & Charges” are considerably higher for non-EU producers (like Cessna) partly because non-European manufacturers must pay for a minimum of two inspectors to travel from Europe to perform investigations and the company must allegedly pay a high hourly cost for each inspector even while they travel. Some have estimated the cost of EASA approval at more than $200,000 for an aircraft like Skycatcher, plus lesser charges in following years. In Cessna’s case, the cost would surely include additional expense when those EASA inspectors also visit China where Skycatcher is manufactured.
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