07 April 2008

The Cessna 162 SkyCatcher in Canada

My last blog entry outlined some interesting controversies about the Cessna 162. These are global issues for the aircraft type, but there are also some issues that affect this aircraft only in Canada.

I should start by pointing out that these issues have been known for quite a while, but they have no current solutions. I talked to Transport Canada this past week to confirm that this information is still current.

The primary question is - as a Canadian can you buy and fly a Cessna 162?.

The answer is "yes, sort of, maybe, depends."

If you are planning on buying a C-162 for private use then the answer is "probably". If you want to use it in a flight school operation then the answer is more complex and closer to "no".

The whole issue hinges on the status of the C-162. It is a fully manufactured aircraft with a gross weight of 1320 lbs that meets the ASTM rules for a US Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). It is not a FAR 23 certified aircraft.

In Canada the C-162 does not qualify to be a CAR 523 or CAR 523 VLA certified aircraft. It is too heavy to be an Advanced Ultra-light Aeroplane (AULA) or Basic Ultra-light Aeroplane (BULA), as they are limited to 1232 and 1200 lbs respectively. It only fits into one category in Canada - the Limited Class.

The Limited Class was really developed to allow old out of production non-certified aircraft to be flown in Canada, such as warbirds and non-certified experimental gliders. Even though the C-162 fits this class, putting brand-new, mass-produced Cessnas in it wasn't TC's intention and in talking to them recently they are still a bit uncomfortable with the notion.

If a private owner were to put a C-162 into the Limited Class then it could be flown like any other light aircraft. The only restriction would be that maintenance releases would have to be signed by an AME, not by the owner as in the US LSA class.

Aircraft in the Limited Class can be used for commercial use, but only for CAR 702 Aerial Work operations. This means banner towing, aerial photography, crop spraying, etc. It can't be used for flight training. To be honest there aren't too many aerial work applications for this small, 100 hp aircraft.

So what do you do if you want to use C-162s in your school? Well you could try applying for an exemption to the CARs, but don't count on it being approved.

The next question most people would ask is "So what is going to happen?"

There is some good news here. The CARAC Recreational Aviation Working Group which I chaired in 2005-06 actually addressed this exact issue. It recommended that the LSA category be established as an additional category in Canada, among other recommendations. That report was accepted by CARAC in 2007 and moved on towards the TC risk assessment and NPA drafting processes.

In talking with TC officials this past week I confirmed that the recommendations are still on the way to becoming rules, but that the massive reorganization that TC is currently going through have brought work to a stop on this and many other projects.

So when will the LSA be a category in Canada, allowing private ownership of C-162s with owner-maintenance and their use in flight schools?

The soonest I would look for this is in about ten years. Due to TC priorities (i.e. not small aircraft) and shortage of manpower at TCHQ, I think "never" is a better bet.

Free advice:

If you are thinking of buying a C-162, or any other LSA that doesn't qualify to be an AULA or BULA in Canada, for private use then contact TC Airworthiness before putting any money down. Find out if they will issue a Special Certificate of Airworthiness - Limited for it. Be prepared to have the maintenance signed off by an AME.

If you are thinking of buying a C-162, or any other LSA that doesn't qualify to be an AULA or BULA in Canada, for flight school use then contact your TC principal inspector before putting any money down. Find out if there is any chance of an exemption to operate the aircraft in school use. If not, it may be possible to put it in the Limited Class as a private aircraft and use it for rental only, as that use is not under your operating certificate.

10 comments:

Owen said...

If I understand correctly, S-LSAs are currently being flown in Canada in the AULA category, with the gross weight placarded down to 1232 lbs. There is a useful load limitation as well, which I believe the 162 only just qualifies for.

Adam Hunt said...

Owen:

Good point, there are some Canadian AULAs that have had their weights increased and certified in the USA as LSAs. The AMD Zenith XL is one example of this. It was an AULA at 1058 lbs first and later at 1232 lbs. Now it is an LSA at 1320 lbs. That is pretty easy to do when it is designed for a lighter gross weight first!

But most aircraft that are designed from the start for the US LSA category aren't coming to Canada as AULAs.

The Cessna 162 won't be for two reasons:

1. Cessna hasn't shown any interest in signing a D of C and putting the 162 in the AULA category.

2. While it would only just make the AULA useful load requirement of 400 lbs (350 + 1/2 the hp) it wouldn't be a very useful airplane at 1232 lbs with 402 lbs of useful load - essentially a single seater. Filling up the tanks would only leave 258 lbs for people and baggage!!

I guarantee that no production C-162 will have an empty weight as light as the prototype's 830 lbs and so they wouldn't be eligible for the AULA category, due to lack of useful load.

I don't think you will see a C-162 in Canada for a while, unless it is a private one in the Limited Class. There may be some if and when the LSA category is finally adopted here.

Owen said...

Cessna has never commented on the actual weight of the Prototype airplane. 830 lbs is the "Standard Empty Weight" as described in the Specification and Description document. While there are weasel words in the S&D, I would think that Cessna would be trying very very hard to make that number, which has been very widely publicized.

Why would you expect them to apply for Canadian certification before the US cert has even been started? They just started flying the prototype last month. First customer delivery is scheduled for the second half of '09, more than a year from now.

I agree that 402 lbs useful load would give extremely limited utility, but I'm sure there are some pilots who could find a use for it.

Giani1 said...

I (Privat pilot, 60 yrs old) am in Vancouver, BC, and thinking to buy a C162 for privat fun flying. I know with full fuel it is basically a single seat/ I want to use it for local fun flying, I like the glass panel, 15000+ ceiling and price. Am just waiting to see the production plane to buy one. Thank you to pointing the issues, will contact transport canada before buying one.

Abi

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Daniel said...

Hi Adam, I came across your article while doing research on the differences between LSA in Canada and the U.S. My main question is why could the 162 not be certified as an VLA, if Cessna followed through on the type certificate. Also, do you have any more current information or sources on whether TC is planning on making amendments to allow for training operations in AULA's that can be logged for higher licences? Great site! Very well written and researched.

Adam Hunt said...

Daniel: Good thoughts there. The C-162 probably could be certified as a VLA (in Canada it would be CAR Standard 523 VLA) or even under FAR 23/CAR 523 as a "normal category aircraft". Cessna just has not chosen to do that, probably because the certification costs are high and since they intend to sell most of their aircraft in the USA it wouldn't increase sales much.

Most Americans seem to feel that the rest of the world should adopt their standards so that US companies don't have to make their products conform to foreign standards.

In the case of Canada the TC Recreational Aviation Working Group which I chaired recommended that TC adopt the LSA category as an additional category in Canada. The report was accepted but as far as I know no action has been taken by TC, meaning that this article is still up to date and the 162 can only be flown in Canada as Limited Class aircraft and therefore not used for flight training, unless a school can get an exemption out of TC.

All of this means that Canada's flight training industry will be less competitive with the rest of the world and will probably shed jobs, but the government doesn't seem very interested in the problem.

In a way I am probably over-stating the case here. The 162 is not a revolutionary aircraft in any way and because it uses the very fuel inefficient Continental O-200 engine it is not hard to find alternative aircraft that can be operated with better economics. So perhaps in a way Canadian schools have been spared that bandwagon and will find more efficient alternatives?

Adam Hunt said...

Daniel: To answer your second question "do you have any more current information or sources on whether TC is planning on making amendments to allow for training operations in AULA's that can be logged for higher licences?"

I brought this issue up in CARAC part IV a few years ago and the answer from TC was "no". You should note that the flying schools oppose this idea - they want you to go and rent their aircraft instead.

Daniel said...

Adam:

Thanks for getting back so quick and answering my questions. Bringing LSA to Canada is something I firmly believe in for supporting GA as well as making flight training a possibility for a new generation of pilots. I would like to continue this discussion further and explain what I'm trying to do personally, perhaps you could send me an email? danielearthy@gmail.com

Adam Hunt said...

Daniel:

Well I am glad that you are getting involved in this issue. I think the most effective thing would be to lobby TC to get on with implementing the recommendations of the Recreational Aviation Working Group which completed its final report in 2006 and was accepted by CARAC and TC itself as a road map for the future. Aviation lobby groups such as COPA and RAA should be collectively pursuing this right now.

In the meantime it is interesting to note that Americans can now fly their LSAs in Canada without having to get a special validation for their C of A each time. As described in Barriers Lowered for LSA Flying in Canada Americans can now just download and carry a standardized validation form to fly their LSAs in Canada, as long as they have a Private Pilot Certificate and a valid medical (those are ICAO rules for international flying). All that means that Americans can now routinely fly their LSAs in Canada, but Canadians can't.