Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wichita's Aircraft Industry: Time for Reinvention?

In today's Wichita Eagle (Sunday, 10/10/10), a letter to the editor, from me:

Sedgwick Country Commissioner Gwen Welshimer presented a strong case for reinvention of Wichita's aviation core at last week's commission meeting.

In a presentation designed to help Wichita understand that it remains at a tipping point for its aviation future, she articulated the need to pay attention to developments in aviation — specifically in the light sport and ultralight niches — so that Wichita may continue to call itself the "Air Capital of the World" for decades to come.

It is disheartening that appropriate investments in the grassroots of our aviation industry were not made years ago. Instead, innovative small aircraft designs have been announced in many other cities and from many other countries. (Europe has become a hot spot for aviation technology development.) Some of these innovations are producing orders along with jobs.

All of these developments are in harmony with what this city already builds and sells — the world's greatest general aviation airplanes, jets and airliner components. But the smaller, less-expensive products rebound first from difficult economic times, and they are lacking from our community's collective product offerings (with the exception of Cessna Aircraft's Skycatcher and Belite Aircraft's "254" and derivatives).

Welshimer should find support from our community for the development of programs that will enhance the ability of our entrepreneurial private sector to create new aviation products and resulting jobs. Will she?

Belite Aircraft

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