The conforming prototype had its first flight on 8 March 2008 and the first production aircraft flew on 5 May 2008.
Cessna had announced its intentions to study the feasibility of developing and producing an LSA on 6 June 2006. The concept design was unveiled on 24 July 2006 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh as the Cessna LSA (also referred to as the Cessna Sport), via a marketing study of the feasibility of producing an aircraft compliant with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s new Light-Sport Aircraft category. On 13 October 2006, nine months after launching the program, the concept prototype aircraft, registered N158CS, first flew, departing McConnell Air Force Base for Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport and reaching a speed of 110 knots (200 km/h). Cessna formally launched the Skycatcher program 10 July 2007, following with a press event on 22 July 2007 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh that unveiled a full-scale mockup and details about the planned production version. Cessna President Jack Pelton made the announcement: After conducting extensive market research, it is clear to us there is a great need for this aircraft as we strive to drive down the cost of flying and learning to fly. We believe this aircraft will make a major contribution to stimulating new pilot starts and will encourage already-licensed pilots to continue to fly because it will be more affordable. We have developed a business case that makes sense; we have incorporated several innovative features into the design; and we believe we can deliver the finest aircraft in the category, combined with our extensive customer service, flight training and distribution networks, at an attractive price. The conforming prototype had its first flight on 8 March 2008 and the first production aircraft flew on 5 May 2008. In January 2009 Cessna CEO Jack Pelton indicated that testing of the 162 was almost complete and that the aircraft had been assessed beyond the Light Sport Aircraft ASTM requirements, including ground vibration testing and that a full airframe fatigue test program would be carried out on a production aircraft. He stated that deliveries would commence later in 2009.