WICHITA – Yingling Aviation wants to bring down the cost of flying. So the Wichita company plans to remanufacture and transform older Cessna 172s into “essentially a new aircraft,” Yingling CEO Lynn Nichols said.
It’s been a year in the works.
Yingling is announcing the new aircraft program, called the Ascend 172, at AirVenture on July 20 at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association booth in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
“We’re excited about being able to launch it,” Nichols said.
The company is taking Cessna 172N aircraft built from 1976 to 1982 and dissembling and stripping them down to the bare metal to inspect and look for corrosion.
“All it is is a carcass,” Nichols said.
Then Yingling replaces the old parts and wiring with new, overhauls the engine, propeller and landing gear, adds new digital gauges, navigation systems and analog flight instruments, adds new tires and brakes, upgrades the interior, restyles the seats and the interior and repaints the aircraft.
The aircraft is gone through “spinner to tail,” Nichols said.
The initial base list price is $159,900. A selection of options is also available.
A new Cessna 172 sells for more than $400,000, he said.
The Ascend 172 will help address the challenges of a dwindling pilot population, a growing number of outdated and aging aircraft and the rising cost of new aircraft.
“It’s all designed to lower the cost of flying,” Nichols said.
The idea came from Mark Baker, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association president, he said. Baker contacted Nichols and asked to meet. During the meeting, he described the idea and the program and asked Nichols to look at it.
“I let it marinate for probably two days,” Nichols said. Then he gathered his team from parts, interiors maintenance, finance and others and gave them 30 days to put the plan on paper to prove that the numbers will work.
He’s also talked with lenders, lawyers and insurance companies to make sure insurance and financing is available.
“We’ve got the green light,” Nichols said.
AOPA will help spread the word, touring the country with a brightly painted yellow Ascend 172.
Nichols expects that Yingling will eventually be able to produce five Ascend 172s a month.
More than 43,000 Cessna 172s have come off the production line since it was introduced in 1956. The 172s are dependable, simple to maintain, inexpensive to operate and fun to fly, Nichols said.
Yingling was founded in 1946 and was Cessna’s first official service and parts facility. It is now an FAA- and European Aviation Safety Agency-approved Part 145 repair station, an authorized service center for a number of providers and a Cessna parts supplier. It employs about 100 people.