Wichita's Aviation Industry Could Hit Delays Amid Budget Cuts

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The recovery of Wichita’s general aviation industry could be hitting another obstacle.

Planemakers like Bombardier Learjet and Cessna could run into delays from the FAA in getting new products certified due to federal budget cuts.

Take Bombardier Learjet has three new products in the certification process: the Lear 70, 75, and the all-new composite plane, Learjet 85. And Cessna is working on the M2, the Latitude, and Longitude business jets.

But now comes sequestration budget cuts. The transportation secretary earlier warned furloughs of FAA personnel would impact aviation manufacturer’s certifications. Sources say the FAA has followed that up with a new email to Wichita planemakers, say the certification process could be delayed.

"When you delay the certification of aircraft then, yes, you're delaying the success of programs," says Brian Foley, aviation analyst and president of Foley Associates.

Delaying certification means delaying a whole program, missing deadlines, and being late getting a product to market. It could delay planned hiring for the ramp-up of production in some cases.

There has been no confirmation yet from local planemakers of specific warnings from the FAA. But we've already heard the transportation secretary who saying this would happen.

Bombardier spokeswoman Peggy Gross says the company hasn't heard anything formal yet, saying they're staying in touch with the FAA and Bombardier doesn't want to speculate on how furloughs could impact product certifications.


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