Yingling Aviation is getting into the airplane manufacturing business – sort of.
The fixed-base operator at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport will begin producing the Ascend 172, which is a completely restored, or remanufactured, pre-owned Cessna 172 airplane.
Lynn Nichols, Yingling owner and chief executive, will announce the company’s Ascend airplane Monday afternoon at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s booth at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis.
Nichols said in an interview with The Eagle that his company has built two of the Ascend airplanes and is working on a third.
He said that while the Ascend is a business opportunity for Yingling, there’s also altruistic reasons behind the airplane.
The rising costs of airplanes and flight training, he thinks, have impeded people from learning to fly.
He thinks the Ascend’s starting price of $159,900 – compared with more than $400,000 for an equivalent new airplane – will be attractive to flight schools and flight clubs, which provide the aircraft students fly and are paid for through hourly rental fees.
Nichols and AOPA officials think the flight schools and flying clubs that buy the airplanes will, in turn, pass along their cost savings by lowering their rental fees, ultimately making it more affordable for people to earn a private pilot’s license.
“This airplane furthers the concept of AOPA’s Reimagined Aircraft program, designed to make the most of the existing aircraft fleet while making general aviation accessible to more people,” AOPA president Mark Baker said in a news release.
It establishes a “path to make sure people who want to fly can afford to fly,” Nichols said. “We need to do this for the well-being of our industry.”