The Sherpa Aircraft Co. has returned its production operations to the United States.
The company manufactures the K-650, a bush plane kit, described by some in the industry as a “Super Cub on steroids.” A Honeywell turbine engine powers the eight-place aircraft.
Until recently Sherpa produced parts in a factory in Eastern Europe. “In 2000, when the arrangement was created, it appeared that Sherpa would benefit from lower labor costs in Europe,” says Sherpa Aircraft President Glen Gordon.
After several years of effort, the cost savings never materialized, he said, blaming it on a combination of the fall-out of Sept. 11 and the vast differences between the American and European styles of manufacturing and running a business. In late 2006 Gordon made the decision to bring production back home to the United States.
The company is in the process of building 12 K-650 kits under a builder assist program at its Scappoose, Oregon, facility near Portland.
Gordon notes that there have been several refinements to the K-650 kit that incorporate the use of a completely new wing design, and a new aileron that was displayed at the 2006 AirVenture event in Oshkosh. The new wing has a fuel storage capacity of 350 gallons that can give the aircraft an endurance of 7.5 hours of flight with the proper power settings.
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