Cessna Aircraft has started assembly of its Citation M2 light business jet at its plant in Independence.
The first two M2 aircraft have started down the assembly line at the plant, which also assembles Cessna's single-engine line of aircraft and the Citation Mustang business jet.
The forward and aft cabin assemblies and wings are built on Cessna's assembly line in Wichita, then delivered to the plant for final assembly. The planes will be painted, interiors installed, tested and delivered to customers from the site.
The first M2 is expected to roll off the assembly line in April.
The first delivery of the $4.395 million airplane is slated for third quarter of this year. It will be used as a demonstration airplane at Cessna.
"Everything is clicking right on schedule, which is really nice as you start up a new program like that," said Brian Rohloff, business team leader for the M2 program and the Citation Mustang. "Working as a team has been really good."
Independence was chosen for the work for several reasons, he said. For one, the plant already performs final assembly on the smaller Citation Mustang business jet. The M2 is a natural next step up for Mustang owners.
"The M2 was born out of the Mustang customer base," Rohloff said, designed for those who want a bigger and faster airplane with more range.
The company also looked at production capacity and costs.
The biggest challenge was getting the site ready to take on the work, Rohloff said. It had to work on integrating the jet into the facility.
It reconfigured the Mustang assembly to make space by leaning out the manufacturing process of the Mustang and combining assembly positions. The company also began a "team building" process so the same group of employees will be able to follow the airplane as it moves through several positions in the assembly process, said Dick Friesen, Cessna value stream manager for the Mustang and M2 in Independence.
M2 and Mustang final assembly will move down the same line. And employees will be able to work on both models.
The M2 has been well received, Rohloff said.
"The response ... has been extremely good," he said. "We are sold out this year and most of next year."
Design for the M2 was developed with customers' input, he said.
The M2 will seat six passengers and two crew members. It will have a maximum cruise rate of 400 knots with a 1,300 nautical mile range. It will feature the Garmin G3000 avionics suite.
Cessna's plant in Independence, which opened in 1996, employs nearly 500 people. It also assembles the single-engine line of aircraft, including the Cessna 172, 182, 206 and Corvalis TTX.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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