Textron Aviation is to transfer production of its Cessna Caravan single-engined turboprop family from Wichita, Kansas to Independence, another plant 115 miles (185km) away in the same state, in order to free up manufacturing capacity for a trio of new models.

Instead of the long-running Caravan, the Wichita factory will focus on the Citation Longitude and Hemisphere business jets and the Denali turboprop single.

The Cessna and Beechcraft parent has not given a date for the relocation to Independence, but it is likely to happen in the short to medium term, given the development timetables for the clean-sheet designs, all of which are scheduled to enter service over the next five years.

The super-midsize Longitude will be first, with a maiden sortie imminent and customer deliveries planned for 2017; the Denali is expected to fly in 2018 ahead of service entry in 2021; and the large-cabin Hemisphere is due to enter certification flight testing in 2019.

Cessna Grand Caravan

Textron Aviation

“We remain focused on new product development and, as such, must ensure our footprint and facilities meet the current and future needs of the business,” Textron says. “This move will utilise capacity at our Independence, Kansas facility, while making our Wichita work force available for new products such as the Longitude and Denali. No employee jobs are expected to be impacted.”

The 20-year-old Independence plant currently produces the M2 and Mustang entry-level business jets, as well as the Stationair 206 HD, TTx, Skylane 182 and Skyhawk 172 piston-singles.

Wichita has been producing Caravans since the high-wing utility aircraft entered service in 1984. The current line-up consists of the baseline model, dubbed the 20, and the more powerful, stretched Grand Caravan EX.

A second production line in Shijiazhuang, China, builds Caravans for Chinese customers as part of a joint venture between Textron and AVIC Aircraft.

Flight Fleets Analyzer records a global fleet of more than 2,200 Caravans. In the first half of 2016 Textron delivered 32 units ­– seven 208s and 25 EXs.

Source: Flight International