New Mooneys To Be U.S.-Built, But China Remains An Option

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Mooney says it will certify and build its new M10 trainers at its Chino, California, facility initially, but may also build production capability at the company's long-established Kerrville, Texas, factory. Mooney CEO Jerry Chen told AVweb this week that the company has already worked out the basics of its certification program with the FAA and expects to complete the project sometime in 2017.

Meanwhile, it's also completing work on a facility in Hunan province in China, which was initially envisioned to be an assembly plant for airframe components made in the U.S. However, when asked if primary manufacturing will take place in China, Chen said that depends on demand for the aircraft. "If the demand potential is there, we will have to react," he said.

Mooney announced the two models at the biannual airshow in Zhuhai last month. The M10T will be a three-seat fixed-gear trainer while the M10J will be a step-up retractable with an option for a third seat. Both will be powered by Continental's CD-155 diesel engines. The new aircraft will be primarily of composite construction, but Chen says the company hasn't decided yet whether that work will be done in-house or contracted to other companies.

One promising announcement at Zhuhai is that four companies were given permits for producing 100-octane avgas. And while that's encouraging, Chen says he still has concerns about avgas supply and distribution in China, hence the decision to go with Continental's diesels.

Although demand is expected to be strong in China, the two new models are intended as world aircraft and will be marketed wherever there's demand. Chen says demand in China is an unknown and the bottleneck remains a shortage of qualified pilots, which is why the company is branching into training.  

"After Zhuhai, there's actually a sign the market will open. Operational wise, we still have great difficulties. But I do see operation in China being much easier than a few months ago. So it's actually improving," Chen said.