Cessna will construct a new plant in Wichita to manufacture the Citation Columbus. The Kansas Senate voted to provide $33 million for the project early last month. In other news, Cessna delivered a Mustang in March to the University of Dakota, the first Cessna VLJ to be used by a flight school.
Deliveries of the Hawker 4000 have not yet begun, despite Hawker Beechcraft saying for more than a month that it would “soon” start shipments of the super-midsize business jet, now in its 12th year of gestation. The FAA currently lists 30 Hawker 4000s–two more than last month–in the U.S. aircraft registry database, all of which are registered to the manufacturer.
Hawker Beechcraft has donated $50,000 to the Corporate Angel Network (CAN), the White Plains, N.Y.-based organization that arranges free flights aboard business aircraft for cancer patients. To date, the Wichita-based company has donated more than $200,000. Jim Schuster, CEO of Hawker Beechcraft and a member of the CAN board of directors, said his company will continue to help CAN deliver transport to cancer patients in need.
Early last month, while Bombardier’s Wichita and Canadian business jet production and assembly facilities remained closed during an unprecedented, four-month plant shutdown that started in late December, the aerospace unit revealed that 3,000 employees–10 percent of its worldwide employment force–will be laid off over the next 12 months.
Two independent projects working on RVSM group certification packages for the Learjet 20 series appear to be neck and neck in terms of price and availability. Avcon Industries of Newton, Kan., along with its partner Bizjet International in Tulsa, Okla., and Wichita-based LJSC and its partner Wichita Executive Aircraft, are saying they will have RVSM-compliant systems certified in June for less than $150,000 per aircraft.
Weakening sales leading to a reduction in Citation production levels this year are forcing Cessna to cut some 1,500 jobs in Wichita early this year, said company officials. Although Cessna was expected to deliver about 300 Citations last year, just six short of its 2001 total, it recently revised its delivery estimate for this year to about 250 business jets. Cessna, which employs 12,000 people worldwide, cut 800 jobs last year.
Hawker Beechcraft opened its new sheet metal assembly facility in Chihuahua, Mexico. According to the Wichita-based airframer, the new light metal shop will support the company’s current and projected workforce needs and alleviate space constraints at its U.S. manufacturing facilities. Current plans for the operation call for an initial staff of 250 workers with a growth potential of up to 650 over the next five years.
A Cessna spokeswoman confirmed that the company plans to add 1,500 jobs next year, mostly in Wichita, largely due to growing sales of its Citation business jets. The Wichita-based manufacturer estimates that it will deliver 380 business jets, including 44 entry-level Mustangs, this year and expects to ship 470 twinjets, including nearly 100 Mustangs, next year.
Cessna announced a new satellite-based, centrally managed parts inventory system for its Citation service centers. The system allows each center easy access to inventory availability at any Cessna-owned facility; previously, each center managed its own inventory. Separately, the Wichita-based aircraft OEM conducted a two-year study of repeat orders to establish sufficient inventory requirements for the most sought-after parts.
As part of a major consolidation project that it says will save $25 million a year, Bombardier has embarked on an 18-month project to consolidate all Learjet production, completions and deliveries in Wichita, and all such Challenger work in Montreal.