Textron Aviation has unveiled a massive expansion of its distribution facility in Kansas to support thousands of Cessna, Beechcraft and Hawker aircraft operating globally. 

The facility’s footprint has grown from 6,040sq m (65,000sq ft) to 23,225sq m, boosting efficiency as it has consolidated several services under one roof, the company told reporters in Wichita on 1 May. 

Prior to the expansion, Textron’s parts distribution operations spanned five buildings – including one on the other side of Wichita. The company’s employees used to drive about 64,400km (40,000 miles) annually between the facilities. 

“We were able to consolidate that all into one single footprint,” says Brad White, senior vice-president of global parts and programmes. “Now we can re-purpose those other buildings for other needs the company has. For example, the big building we vacated on the east side of town is currently being transformed and renovated into our new training and talent centre.”

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Source: Textron Aviation

Textron recently opened an expanded distribution centre in Wichita 

The aftermarket for parts to support in-service aircraft generated 33% of Textron’s full-year 2023 revenue. “As with other OEMs, our aftermarket tends to have higher margins, too, so this is a key piece of the business,” White says. 

Textron maintains similar distribution facilities “on pretty much every continent”, White says, including a site in Dusseldorf that is its second-largest distribution centre. It is considering establishing a facility in Australia, as well. 

“We also have service centres where we do maintenance on the aircraft as small satellite stations to have certain high-moving inventory items around the world,” he says. “We feel like we have a really good global footprint of having parts close to customers and to keep aircraft flying.” 

White acknowledges that various snags in the supply chain have been challenging for the Textron’s aftermarket business but believes that issues are generally easing. 

“In my my opinion, 2022 was probably the peak and it has been steadily improving since then,” he says. ”Is it pre-Covid health levels? Not quite. But we are seeing improvement across the board, both on the production side and the aftermarket side.”

He declines to identify specific parts or materials that remain in short supply, adding that pinch points change on a season-to-season basis.

“Our team is staffed to work with suppliers and in some cases resource those parts,” White says. “We can produce quite a bit ourselves; of 800,000 part numbers that we offer, well over 70% we can manufacture.”