Cessna 75th Anniversary
Learjet 40 in flight
Unique among the industry, nowhere else will you find the concentration of top-name general aviation aircraft manufacturers co-located within such a tight geographic boundary. What Detroit had become to the automobile in it’s glory days, and Silicon Valley has become to the computer-chip, so too has Kansas become to the airplane!
But why Wichita as the “Air Capital of the World?” The city is bound closely to aircraft manufacturing. It is one of the world’s most important centers for the manufacture of aircraft.. specifically, production of light general aviation aircraft and business jets, as well as manufacture of major structural components for large commercial airliners.
Wichita has been home to the Boeing Company, Cessna, Raytheon and Bombardier Aerospace’s Learjet division. These industry giants make it possible for Wichita to supply two-thirds of the world’s commercial airliners and 60% of the world’s general aviation and military aircraft.
According to the General Aviation Manufactures Association (GAMA), Wichita-based aircraft companies produced seven out of every 10 planes delivered in the first six months of 1998, representing sixty percent of total billings! These statistics do not include commercial jetliners.
Wichita is one of the Boeing Company’s prime centers for engineering, fabrication, assembly and modification for both commercial and military aircraft. Boeing Wichita produces approximately 75% of the 737. One of the most technically advanced of all airplane components, Section 41 of the airplanes forward fuselage, is at Boeing’s Wichita base. In fact, Section 41 for every Boeing jetliner in production is built in Wichita. The nacelles and nose sections for the 747, 757, 767 and 777 jetliners are designed and built here as well. Boeing Wichita is responsible for maintenance of Air Force One, as well as for modification and structural updates on the new 767 AWACS, the KC-135 tankers and the B-52 bomber.
Bombardier Aerospace is the world’s third largest manufacturer of civil aircraft. Wichita is headquarters to the company’s Learjet operations and the center for all of Bombardier’s aircraft certification flight-testing. Bombardier has delivered more than 2,100 business jet aircraft worldwide since 1964. The business unit currently manufactures the high-performance Learjet 31A, the transcontinental Learjet 60 and the Learjet 45. One of eight Bombardier Business Aviation Service Centers is also located here, serving more than 600 aircraft every year.
Cessna Aircraft Company, established in Wichita in 1927, has delivered nearly 190,000 aircraft, including 24,000 twin-engine airplanes, 2,000 military jets and 3,200 Citations, the largest fleet of business jet aircraft in the world. Currently, Cessna manufactures eight business jets, including the Citation X, the world’s fastest business jet. Also manufactured in Wichita are four models of Cessna Caravans. Worldwide, Cessna employs over 13,000 people in design, manufacture, sale and service of general aviation aircraft, and is a registered ISO09001 company in recognition of its quality systems and processes.
Raytheon Aircraft employs some 17,000 people worldwide with more than $2.7 billion in annual sales. Wichita is the company’s world headquarters and a principal manufacturing site. More than 9,000 Kansans work for Raytheon. The company’s product line includes super-midsize, midsize and light jet aircraft, turboprops and piston-powered aircraft, many of which proudly carry the Beech name, yet another of the city’s pioneering aviation companies. Raytheon has invested $350 million recently to upgrade its Kansas operations, with more Computer-Aided Design, more cellular manufacturing, and more high-speed machining and automated fabrication of composite aircraft fuselages.
This incredible business journey has seen the Kansas aviation industry get it’s fledgling start during the late 1800’s when the imaginative but unworkable concepts were envisioned by dreamers and converted into reality as test aircraft by blacksmiths. It has seen Kansas become the proving grounds for such industry giants as Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna, Matty Laird, Bill Lear & Lloyd Stearman, just to name a few. Through the “Golden Age” of Barnstorming and Air-Racing, the Kansas aviation connection has always been at the forefront with such names as Amelia Earhart, Art Goebel, Frank Hawks, Benny Howard, and Blanche Noyes. Kansas has also played a significant role as a key component in the “arsenal of democracy,” with such stalwart manufactures as Boeing (Wichita) and North American Aviation (Kansas City, KS) building medium and heavy bombers in the heartland. This amazing legacy is sustained even to this day as new names emerge to carry on the tradition of aircraft that set the world standard for excellence in recreational and business aviation.
Today, Wichita is proudly “home” to Boeing, Bombardier, Cessna, Raytheon and now Airbus with it’s new wing design division here, making 5 major aircraft manufacturers that make Wichita “The Air Capital of the World”. For more information regarding “Wichita, the Air Capital of the World,” read these articles, “Dashing spirit launched industry” and “Wichita tooted aviation’s horn”.