Yingling Aircraft in Wichita has been selected by Cessna Aircraft Co. as one of three U.S. reassembly facilities for Cessna´s 162 SkyCatcher, Cessna officials said Thursday.
Cessna will produce the aluminum light sport aircraft at Shenyang Aircraft Corp. in China. After production there, the planes will be test-flown, disassembled and shipped to Yingling or one of two other authorized service stations in the United States.
The service stations will reassemble the aircraft, perform the acceptance flight tests and deliver them to Cessna´s sales representatives for customer delivery.
Besides Yingling, Cessna selected Eagle Aviation in West Columbia, S.C., and Southwest Platinum Aviation in North Las Vegas, Nev., as reassembly locations.
The SkyCatcher´s prototype is approaching its first flight. Cessna´s engineering team is building three airframes -- a prototype, first production and a test article -- in order to meet American Society for Testing and Materials compliance.
Basic design features of the aircraft are in place, the company said, and Cessna is selecting vendors for the plane´s optional equipment.
Yingling, a fixed-base operator at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport near Cessna´s main facility, is preparing to take on the reassembly and testing work.
It´s modifying its shipping and receiving department to be able to accept large containers, which will contain two SkyCatchers each.
Yingling also is modifying a reassembly bay and adding windows so visitors can watch the process, said Yingling senior vice president and chief financial officer Lonnie Vaughn.
Initially, Yingling will add two or three employees. Eventually, as Cessna increases production on the SkyCatcher, Yingling will likely need to add more space and more employees, Vaughn said.
Yingling, a locally owned company founded in 1946, is Cessna´s oldest dealer.
"They´ve been a good partner for many years," said Cessna spokeswoman Pia Bergqvist.
Cessna has orders for more than 920 SkyCatchers. Two-thirds of the orders have been sold domestically.
Deliveries will begin in the second half of 2009, Bergqvist said. About 50 planes will be delivered next year.
Cessna plans to build about 700 SkyCatchers a year at full-rate production, which is expected by 2012.
The company has not yet determined how it will handle deliveries outside the U.S., Bergqvist said. Most likely, there will be other reassembly locations around the world, she said.
Cessna launched the SkyCatcher program in July 2007. The plane will cruise at speeds of up to 118 knots and have a maximum range of 470 nautical miles. It sells for $ 111,500.