Cessna May Use Kit Building Trick in New Plane

After Cessna’s prototype for the light sport plane was received well by attendees at the AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh this year, the company is now thinking about how they may want to manufacture the plane. To keep it under their target price tag of $100,000, Cessna will have to minimize building costs and consider more innovative production methods. They’re even thinking about using a trick that homebuilders of kit planes have been doing for years. It’s called matched-hole drilling.

The way it works is a computerized machine pre-drills holes into the unassembled plane parts. Later, the parts are matched up and assembled. It’s faster and easier than drilling as you go. It’s also very accurate, so it wouldn’t compromise quality or safety. Cessna wouldn’t even have to do the drilling themselves, as they could require the suppliers do it before delivering the parts for final assembly. The aircraft company estimates it must sell at least 600 of the light sport planes to make the airplane worthwhile to manufacture. So far, only the one plane has been produced, which they built in order to showcase the model at AirVenture and see if potential buyers expressed interest. Because of the great response, Cessna is moving forward and seriously considering best methods for production.

However, matched-hole drilling won’t work for every part of the plane, and is limited to flatter areas of the airplane, such as the tail, wings, and part of the aft fuselage.