Cessna Citation M2 Factory Tour

Take a look around Cessna's impressive Citation production line at their manufacturing plant in Independence, Kansas.

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CJs are built in sections, allowing workers to perform certain operations more easily than could be done with, for example, the empennage already installed.
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The foundation of the Cessna 525 series jets, the right-sized fuselage. The method, known as aluminum monocoque construction, is light, strong and easily repaired.
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**On its wheels with most of its high-dollar components (engine, avionics, and landing gear) installed, the CJ at this point in the production process looks very much like an airplane. **
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Toward the end of the production line Mustangs merge with CJs (M2s) as workers add the finishing touches. You can tell it’s a Mustang, by the way, by the oval shape of the windows.
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At this stage in the process, M2 gets its guts, including its G3000 avionics suite, the power levers, flight controls and all switches and knobs and circuit breakers. Note the wires sticking out of the control columns. Once the yokes are mounted, technicians will attach the yoke-mounted electrical switches, including push-to-talk, autopilot disconnect, trim and more. Eventually, the pilots will even get seats.
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Cessna has worked hard to create movable work areas that make it as efficient as possible for workers to do their jobs. Regardless, sometimes it’s a bit of a squeeze to install certain components, especially those in tight spots, like the nose baggage compartment.
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Cessna didn’t tell us how much each Williams FJ44-1AP-21 engine set them back, but they aren’t cheap. Consequently, the company takes delivery of them at the last minute, a strategy known as just-in-time production, a scheme that somewhat counter-intuitively keeps costs down and improves efficiency.
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The floor of Cessna’s Independence, Kansas, factory is home to a slow-moving dance of precision manufacturing. The factory there manufactures and/or assembles more than a half dozen different models.
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As you can see in this shot, the nose baggage compartment is home to a large number of critical system components, including hydraulic, electrical and mechanical components.
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**You might have heard that the weight of electrical bundles can be substantial. This photograph will make you believe it’s true. **
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**Windshields are expensive, so Cessna takes every precaution to ensure they come through the manufacturing process unscathed, to be peeled only when it’s time to go fly. **
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**The build-out on the fuselage is a complex and painstaking affair. Shown here are the beefy pressure bulkhead floorboards and windows. The escape hatch is in progress. **
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A Cessna worker adds components to the floor structure in the aft cockpit section, showing clearly that the 525 is a traditional sheet metal airplane, which has been largely true for homespun Cessna products for more than 70 years.
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The pretty fuselage of the M2 Citation. The sheet metal is coated with green anti-corrosion treatment, helping ensure a long life even in the most hostile winter environments.
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**One of the amazing things about sheet metal construction is that it can be so strong and so airtight. The nose section of an M2 Citation is shown here, with the radar mounting structure, baggage compartment and windshield complete and ready to accept their dedicated components. **
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Side by side M2s march down the production line slowly and steadily. At far right, a Mustang makes its deliberate way toward the hangar door, as well. Look out for our full feature on flying the M2 in November.