The addition of a new 23,000-sq-ft maintenance hangar and paint facility has proven to be a timely and beneficial expansion for Yingling Aviation, an independent FBO and MRO provider at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport. Part of a Yingling expansion and remodeling project, the new hangar and paint facility that’s housed within the 50,000-sq-ft former Hawker Beechcraft Services complex has helped to drive more maintenance work for the 74-year-old company, especially larger projects on Cessna Citations.
“Having those facilities really just changed the dynamic of our company,” Yingling president Andrew Nichols told AIN, adding that with the expansion the company has more than 200,000 sq ft of facilities.
“Our momentum has been excellent,” added Jerry Pickett, Yingling v-p of business development. “Word is out that we are a new contender for all Citation work up through the Sovereign+.” To underscore that point, the company recently accepted what Pickett explained are its two largest Citation projects to date, requiring Yingling to separate the fuselages of a CJ3 and an Excel from their wings. The Excel, which came to Yingling for a lower fuselage corrosion repair, will also receive a new Garmin G5000 avionics suite and integration of a Garmin traffic system (GTS) along with an attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) and magnetometer.
Pickett and Nichols said the new hangar, which internally is referred to as Bay 9, is helping to boost the company’s Citation work because of the extra capacity. “This is providing us with the ability to do more of these major repairs,” Pickett explained. As a result, Yingling has added 15 more A&Ps and avionics technicians. On a recent tour of Yingling’s expanded facilities, Nichols said of Bay 9: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this hangar empty. It’s much-needed space and I’m not sure how we lived without it before.”
The company also hired 10 employees for its new paint operation. Open for about a year, Nichols and Pickett estimated that about 50 airplanes have come through the paint shop.
The additional maintenance and painting projects have helped to blunt Yingling’s fuel sales and parts distribution businesses that have been affected by the Covid-19-induced drop in business and general aviation traffic as well as military aircraft fueling—Yingling has a government contract to provide refueling for transient military aircraft.
Aircraft owners and operators seeking to take advantage of the downtime created by the pandemic have also helped to drive the higher maintenance business, Nichols noted. “Our team has worked so hard getting customers and bringing them in the doors,” he said. “We haven’t missed a beat. I can tell you for the foreseeable future unless something out of our control happens, our schedule looks pretty good.” Pickett added that Yingling is scheduled out on routine maintenance projects farther than it’s ever been.
To keep the maintenance momentum going, Yingling is looking to add Hawker airframe, engine, and avionics repair work, according to Pickett. “And we’ve had requests for Learjet work,” he added, “so we’re analyzing that.”
Yingling’s expanded maintenance and modification capabilities in airframe, engines, avionics, interiors, and paint are addressing a geographic demand for such services. And that’s reflected in the growth of its MRO business since the expansion.
“There’s been a need in the central part of the United States—Duncan’s out there, of course—for another reliable, comprehensive support facility beyond [OEM] service centers,” Pickett said. “We focus on customer service, fair pricing, quality, and on-time deliveries. And those are the things our customers tell us are the most important to them.”