Cessna Looks To Homebuilts For LSA Ideas

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Cessna may adopt a construction method used by some kit airplane companies to simplify assembly of the aircraft. Computerized match-hole drilling involves pre-drilling sheet metal pieces so that the holes line up perfectly when it comes time to fit them together. Companies like Van's aircraft (which estimates its homebuilt flying fleet at more than 4,500) have had good success with the system, which saves the builder time and improves the fit of the components. "It's very accurate," Neal Wilford, who's heading up Cessna's LSA project, told The Wichita Eagle. Wilford is building a Thorp Sky Scooter using the same technique. "So I knew it worked." The process might offer Cessna more than just a precise fit and finish. The prefabbed parts could be shipped to subcontractors for assembly, possibly saving enough money in construction costs to bring the airplane's sticker price into the $100,000 range the company says is necessary to compete with European LSAs. CEO Jack Pelton told the Eagle that the proof-of-concept LSA displayed at EAA AirVenture last month drew positive reviews but meeting the $100,000 price goal will be a challenge.