Cessna Aircraft has moved work on its 162 Skycatcher from Wichita-based Yingling Aviation to its single-engine plant in Independence.
The Skycatcher, a two-seat light sport aircraft, is manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Industry Co., in northeast China. After shipment, Yingling has been reassembling and delivering the planes to customers.
Cessna has been looking at ways to integrate the Skycatcher with its other single-engine airplanes in Independence as it seeks to build the plane in the most cost-effective way possible, Cessna spokesperson Dianne White said Monday.
“It’s in no way a reflection on Yingling,” White said. “They are continuing to work with us on a number of programs.”
Cessna’s Independence facility has the capacity to take on the work, she said.
“It’s good news for Cessna because it’s going to provide more steady work in our propeller facility,” White said.
In response to the change, Yingling has laid off six mechanics. Additional mechanics have been moved to other programs, and the facility has been filled with other work as well, said Yingling president Lynn Nichols.
“It didn’t hurt us as bad as we thought it was going to,” Nichols said.
Yingling is a fixed-base operator and Cessna parts dealer that offers flight training and aircraft services at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. It was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to maintain and inspect the Skycatcher in August 2010.
After arrival from Shenyang, Yingling mechanics reassembled the Skycatcher, installing the tail, horizontal stabilizer, struts, wings, propeller and control surfaces. They also worked on the engine, which is preserved to withstand the trip over a salty ocean. They also performed electrical and static testing and test flew the airplane before delivery.
Cessna unveiled the Skycatcher as a trainer in 2006 to encourage people to fly. The company formally launched the program in July 2007 and the first plane was delivered about two years later.
In 2010, Cessna delivered 22 Skycatchers; it delivered 168 last year.
Shenyang is a subsidiary of China Aviation Industry Corp., a government-owned consortium of aircraft manufacturers. Shenyang is a significant supplier to Boeing and Airbus and supplies parts to Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita.