The whole China/US made argument boils down to "how much extra are you willing to pay to support someone whose product or efforts cost more?" It plays out everywhere, such as in anti-WalMart campaigns.
Here at our home airport, the FBO, run by a neighbor, sells gas that generally runs $.45/gallon higher than a vendor only a few miles away. Should I cough up the extra $25 or more per fill-up to support him? Or should I go with free enterprise, which has provided us with our fantastic lifestyle? What would you do?
Is everyone OK with the fact that whatever design weakness permitted the 162's flat spin problem has been addressed through afterthought patches?
When I compare the 162 to Diamond's products, I see a company that made 1950's designs a bit slicker with avionics and better surfaces vs. a company that exploited modern NASA research to make a fundamentally safer aircraft in all respects. (The 162 has already had more incidents and crashes pertaining to airframe design than Diamond's zero).
It takes an experienced pilot and several tries to force the DA40 into a shallow spin. It can only be done with extreme inputs and attitude. The recovery procedure is "let go" and it returns to stable flight in 1/2 turn. Anyone who has flown the two aircraft at the edge of their envelopes knows that Cessna didn't do what it could have done.
Cessna could easily have designed that kind of safety as well. They were leaders -- once. Instead, they chose to make the 162 in the image of their 50 year old designs, only not as stable. I don't call that progress. GA Cessna is a company of the past that will fade away when we old Cessna owners retire those great 180's, 182's, 185's, and 210's.
There are dozens of brands of LSAs already in the USA, mostly from Europe. While many US flight schools will choose Cessna because they are familiar with the company and the power plant, most of the other LSAs offer much better performance. As a general rule, European LSAs(also used as trainers)take off in less distance, have a faster climb rate, and burn less fuel. Cessna has built a lumbering trainer designed to move the pilot along into other Cessna products. Europeans and others have built exciting LSAs for Sport Pilots.
After spending that last 16+ years witnessing and being part of a certification process the cost of building a new aircraft is beyond comprehension. I understand why Cessna is building in China but it does not make it any less frustrating to see a once all American industry being exported. They are also moving the major components for the Corvallis to Mexico, again I understand why but hard to swallow.
As far as a 172 being a great trainer that is correct but the cost to floor one for a trainer has crippled many flight schools and driven them out of the business. Especially considering the fact that it is almost impossible to obtain financing for the school as well as the student. After a hiatus of being an aircraft Mechanic, I recently worked on a new 172 and found it to be much like the old 172. Oil drips all over the place during an oil change, the cowl fasteners still wear easily and elongate (with the beautiful streaking on the new paint), the wheel pants are a major pain to remove for wheel inspection and now we get multiple sumps to drain. The list goes on. Don't get me wrong, the G1000's and airbags are wonderful. That said a great trainer would be one that is inexpensive, (or less), easier to service etc and great to fly.
So if the 162, Skycatcher, helps the flight school to survive and keeps the students from amassing a 3rd world debt I am all for it. Even if we have to send it to a third world to build it.
Re: all the China comments above - here in Arizona, literally thousands of Chinese pilots receive primary flight training each year; in fact it's hard to not constantly hear their accents on any tower freq in the Phoenix metro area. Is it ironic that we will be training Chinese pilots in the U.S. in an aircraft they assemble?
Cessna is building this plane primarily as a trainer, for which it is brilliant.
The main reason it is excellent as a trainer, is it will cut the cost of the aircraft rental by 50%. This is a HUGE accomplishement. The -162 costs less than 1/2 of a -172 (or a new -152), and it uses about 1/2 the fuel of a -172, so your cost, as a student pilot, will be less than 1/2. Where my home is, a -172 was costing $125/hour, WITHOUT an instructor! With the -162, the price can be about $60/hour, little more than I paid in University in 1983 for a Piper Traumahauk.
The -162 can serve as a trainer for the LSA and Private Pilot, and you can build time towards your Commercial and Instrument tickets with this plane.
The problem is not cost or shine, it's payload. Sad truth is the FAA stopped building 170 pounders long ago and real people just can't be carried with any fuel on board--even if they can be shoehorned in--just like 152's, J-3's and all those wonderful trainers of yesteryear. Why do you think flying schools have to use 172's these days? It ain't 'cause they're cheap! Otherwise, looks like a fine airplane. And, yes, it is too expensive, like everything else...
Wild Blue Aviation
I accept John Wilson's reply regarding the importance of a trainer not conveying false-confidence. Yet, there has to be an underlying stability that will forgive, not kill, an inexperienced pilot. Warriors, for example, are a good example of a safe trainer that will still remind you gently of the need for inputs. In this regard, I do worry about low time pilots who flew only a new NASA designs like Diamond products. Yet, I maintain that safety trumps this concern and no one would suggest that a design that will flat spin is a good idea in a non-aerobatic aircraft (not really a good idea in them either).
My main point is that Cessna did far less than it could have done and I do not believe that economics can be fully blamed. They suffer from "big/old/besieged" company mentality. Diamond managed to do a decent job (100% of their fiber/carbon fiber work is in the factory; Cirrus and Cessna outsource); others have apparently managed to be profitable with new designs.
For the person that asked - the crazy MGTW 1320 (600 kilograms)and most of the LSA rule came from Europe like most of the LSA aircraft you see. There was a time when our government helped our industry leading companies and made common sense rules for Americans. Now nothing happens unless Europe or ICAO bite into it first. Common sense is not allowed.
Lots of incorrect comments based on ignorance or a desire to ignore the facts. The LSA weight limit came from ASTM design standards, not pulled out of "somewhere". The Skycatcher is nearly 100% aluminum construction, not composite as are most competing LSAs. Sorry but the lone voice for a $200K 152 is lost echoing aross the valley. The large majority wants affordability. "Columbia line" of composite work has not gone to China and the Cessna Corvalis is now built along with the other single engine airplanes in Independence Kansas. FLYING editors Goyer and McClellan have got it right.
It is interesting that of those who so harshly criticize the fact that so many products are manufactured in China, few if any address the real culprits in the issue. If a man beats his wife every day, is she at fault for moving out of the house? The insane tax and liability burden that is imposed by our government is responsible for driving industry our of our country. I applaud Cessna for it's willingness to go to such lengths to provide a product that is so much needed. If we really want to see more products manufactured domestically, we need to step up to the plate and stop demanding that the government provide such an expensive "safety net" for us. The handouts we are receiving are killing us. Thanks Cessna, I hope that the Skycathcer catches plenty of sales!