Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Aero Experience Mid-West Tour 2016: Behind the Scenes at Beechcraft in Wichita

By Mark Nankivil
We wound up a great day in Wichita with a tour of the Beechcraft plant, seeing the King Air, Baron and Bonanza production lines. King Airs dominate the space in the plant, both because of their comparative size and the number being produced (production starting clear back in 1964).  With nearly 6,000 King Airs produced to this point in time, the King Air is the most successful twin engine business aircraft in history.  King Air demand remains strong, with roughly a 60/40 mix between military and civilian buyers.

Most of the King Air subassemblies are made in house or at other Beechcraft facilities in the state, though lower sections of the fuselage are fabricated in Mexico and trucked up to the plant to be phased into the production line.  Barons and Bonanzas share the rest of the plant with all lines ending at the north end of the plant where, after all checks are made and accepted, the aircraft can rest on their own landing gear.  During our visit, we saw signs of the beginnings of the next aircraft to be produced there, the Cessna Longitude business jet.  In the same class as the Hawker Horizon and the like, the building fixtures and their foundations were being placed throughout the center of the building.  An interesting feature are the vertically aligned jigs for the fuselage, a change from the traditional horizontal layout seen just a few feet away on the existing production lines.


With both Beechcraft and Cessna now part of the Textron Aviation family, the idea of a Cessna product being set up to be produced in a Beechcraft plant is a sign of the future.  Integration of the aircraft types and production lines makes the most of each company's strengths and physical assets.  It is interesting that these companies' founders joined together, along with Floyd Stearman, to start the Travel Air Manufacturing Company.  They would later go their separate ways to form successful aviation businesses of their own, and now they are together again.  It will be fascinating to see where this leads and what aircraft will be developed in the future.

The Aero Experience thanks Nikki Remen and Nick Lette for a most enjoyable visit and for sharing their experience and knowledge with us.  Also thank you to The Aero Experience sponsor Air Associates for their assistance with contacting Beechcraft/Textron for the tour.

No comments: