A newly launched programme to remanufacture 35- to 40-year-old Cessna 172s could spread to several other piston aircraft models, creating relatively low-cost options for purchasing new aircraft.

Wichita-based Yingling Aviation’s chief executive, Lynn Nichols, announced on 21 July the acceptance of a proposal from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) to begin remanufacturing Cessna 172 Skyhawks. The programme begins a year after AOPA’s “Reimagining” initiative prompted Aviat to launch a remanufacturing programme for the two-seat Cessna 152.

AOPA and Yingling are already in discussions about launching similar remanufacturing programmes for the Cessna 182, the Cessna 210, the Beechcraft Bonanza and Piper aircraft, Nichols says. In the near term, however, Yingling is focused on making the Cessna 172 manufacturing successful.

The follow-on programmes are “way out there” on the distant horizon, he says.

Nichols is encouraged by the immediate response from the market about the remanufactured “Ascend 172”, he says. One day after launching the programme on 20 July at the EEA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in, the response from potential customers has “exceeded all of my expectations”, he says.

Nichols acknowledges that Yingling embarked on the programme with some doubts. After being approached by AOPA to consider launching such a programme, Nichols assigned his department heads to evaluate if it was feasible to offer a remanufactured Skyhawk at a price point of $150,000. After several weeks of analysis, the department heads came back with a price that “blew by” that threshold, Nichols says.

But Nichols detected a flaw in the team’s pricing model: the analysis was based on a one-off project for a single aircraft. Nichols told them assume a serial production run and re-calculate the analysis. The result was more encouraging. The team could still not hit the $150,000 target, but a basic, visual flight rules version of the Ascend 172 is now priced at $159,000.

The new price “was close enough”, Nichols says. “I thought, you know, we’ll still get more efficiencies, and ring the costs out.”

Though known mainly as a general aviation maintenance services and parts distributor, Yingling has experience with aircraft modifications: FedEx selected Yingling to modify a fleet of 250 Cessna Caravans with new de-icing equipment. That experience led Yingling to develop a specialised production system for modifying existing aircraft, Nichols says.

“We’re taking what we learned from the Caravan programme over to this,” Nichols says. “We’re going to see if it works. I can’t tell you it’s perfect but we’re off to a start.”

Source: FlightGlobal.com