Ramon Lopez/NEW YORK

NEW-PRODUCTION Cessna Aircraft 172 Skyhawks, 182 Skylanes and Model 206s are to be powered by up-rated Textron Lycoming piston engines, according to Russ Meyer, the company's chairman.

Revealing new information about the company's plans to revive its single-engine general-aviation operations, Meyer says that the aircraft will be built at a $45 million manufacturing plant at the Independence (Kansas) Municipal Airport, to be completed in early 1996.

The first aircraft (a Skyhawk) will be rolled off the production line in September of that year.

Meyer says that the new production plant will generate about $300 million in yearly sales and create as many as 1,800 new jobs at Cessna's base in Wichita and Independence. He says that Cessna will begin recovering its investment almost immediately. "We will start making money in 1997 and do nicely in 1998."

Cessna's strategy is to build up to a production rate for the Model 172/182/206 of around 2,000 by 1998. This will be divided into about 1,100 172s, about 400 182s and about 400 206s. Meyer says that 30 aircraft will be built in 1996 and 1,100 in the following year.

The company is replacing, the Skyhawk's original 120kW (160hp) Lycoming 0-320 piston engine, with the 135kW Lycoming IO-360-A4M, de-rated to turn the propeller, at a quieter 2,400RPM.

The Skylane will be powered by the Lycoming 170kW IO-540 and an upgraded IO-540 called the IO-580, will be installed in the Model 206. Meyer says that an extensive worldwide search for other engines failed to yield better power plants.

He also says, that fuel injection and electronic ignition will be standard. Final decisions about avionics will be made within two months.

Cessna may offer a lease programme, and Meyer believes that more than 50% of the aircraft could be leased if customers are offered a choice.

He would not reveal prices for the revived line of single-engine piston aircraft, beyond saying that the cost of a new Skyhawk will be close to the 1985 price, adjusted for inflation.

"We will price the aircraft to sustain annual production of 2,000 units. I think you will be pleased with the price," he says.

Source: Flight International