Textron Aviation to move Cessna Caravan work southeast

A Cessna Caravan on the company’s Wichita production line in 2010.
A Cessna Caravan on the company’s Wichita production line in 2010. The Wichita Eagle

A pipeline of new airplanes means Textron Aviation will relocate its Cessna Caravan production 113 miles southeast of Wichita.

The manufacturer of Cessna and Beechcraft airplanes will send its work on the single-engine, utility turboprop to its Independence plant.

“This move will utilize capacity at our Independence, Kansas, facility, while making our Wichita work force available for new products such as the Citation Longitude and Cessna Denali,” Textron Aviation said in a statement Friday.

The company has already chosen its east campus, formerly Beechcraft, as the assembly site for the Longitude, which is weeks away from first flight.

The company said no jobs are expected to be affected by the move that will free up space at the Textron Aviation West Campus, formerly Cessna, near K-42 and Hoover in southwest Wichita.

It isn’t clear when the move will occur.

“We are still very early in the transition planning,” a Textron Aviation spokeswoman said.

The move would likely have to occur before 2018. That’s when the company plans the first flight of the Cessna Denali, a single-engine turboprop it unveiled last month at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis.

“We remain focused on new product development and, as such, must ensure our footprint and facilities meet the current and future needs of the business,” the statement said.

The Denali is Textron Aviation’s answer to Swiss airplane maker Pilatus’ successful PC-12 and Daher’s TBM 900.

The Caravan is one of the company’s oldest planes still in production.

Cessna delivered the first Caravan in 1985 and last year marked the delivery of its 2,500th Caravan.

Even this year the Caravan remains a robust product line — comprising the 208 Caravan and the 208B Grand Caravan EX — accounting for 32, or 18 percent, of all Textron Aviation aircraft deliveries in the first half of 2016.

In Independence, Textron Aviation manufactures the single-piston engine Skyhawk, Skylane and Stationair as well as the Citation Mustang and M2 business jets, and the TTx high-performance single.

Textron Aviation Cessna's Kevin Steinert discusses the business jet maker's newest -- and biggest -- airplane, from the National Business Aviation Association Convention in Las Vegas. Video by Jerry Siebenmark / Nov. 18, 2015)

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark