Tour the Cessna 350/400 Factory in Bend, Oregon

**Since it took over ownership and operation of the Columbia factory in Bend, Oregon, Cessna has improved process efficiency markedly while keeping the proud and expert staff of more than 400 that existed at the time of the acquisition. My ?Factory Photos By Robert Goyer
The horizontal stabilizer fresh from the paint booth.
Cessna’s Doug Meyer with the sheets of material that will soon become the parts of a real flying airplane.
**Depending on the application, different kinds of composite materials with different properties are used in making parts on the Cessna 350 and 400. The nature of the weave, uni- or omni-directional, is a critical consideration, and how it’?
**Depending on the application, different kinds of composite materials with different properties are used in making parts on the Cessna 350 and 400. The nature of the weave, uni- or omni-directional, is a critical consideration, and how it’?
Excess resin is removed through the vacuum bagging process, leaving the part strong, consistent and as light as possible.
**Here one side of the fuselage of a 350 or 400--the parts are interchangeable--gets built in a form. A variety of types of fiberglass and carbon fiber, as well as a little metal, are used to create the beautiful lines of the fast?
A worker cuts parts that will get added to the layup and later baked.
Meyer points out the horizontal spar attach point. Yes, it’s metal.
A honeycomb core is used for light weight and stiffness.
Here’s where the magic happens, the big autoclave at the Bend plant.
**The oven is computer controlled and heats parts to a relatively high temperature compared to other production composite airplanes, which is why they can be painted dark colors—the temperature at which a part cooks, Meyer told us, is the t?
A perfect example of carbon fiber--the dark material--being used advisedly on the structure.
A view from the inside of a freshly mated fuselage. The structure is indeed glued together, and the bond, to set your mind at ease, is incredibly strong, actually stronger than the material it joins.
A fuselage joined and with the firewall fitted.
The main gear mounting assembly ready for the wing join.
The steel tubing horizontal tail attach fittings and ready for the paint shop.
Windows go in as late in the process as possible to help prevent scratching.
An entry door ready for paint and then installation.
The wing skin mold with a skin being laid up in it.
The mold for building the carbon fiber wing spars.
**Here Meyer shows off a demonstration section of the spar. Note how the part is not uniform but built up in different dimension depending on the load it bears. At the tip, the spar is very small, while at the root it’s a big and beefy buil?
Gluing the fuselage together. The operation is a low-temperature affair and can be accomplished right on the factory floor.
Popping fresh carbon fiber control surfaces hot out of the oven await finishing and paint.
They look like rolls of fabric, but in the hands of Cessna’s experts, these rolls of fabric will be turned into high-quality, high-strength airplane parts.
Workers sand and polish a wing to near perfection.
A technician assembles the wiring harness based on the customer’s specifications.
A Cessna worker installs accessories onto the big Continental 550-series engine just before the end of the line.
The most expensive component on the airplane, the big-bore Continental engine, installed and ready to rock and roll.
Looking very much like an airplane, this Cessna gets the beginnings of what will be a luxurious interior.
A gaggle of cowlings await installation at the end of the line.
The last step of the line is flight testing. Cessna uses factory floor equipment wheelpants to prevent damage to the customer’s while the airplane is being flight tested.
With the Cascades in the background, a Cessna tech puts the finishing touches on an airplane almost ready to deliver to a customer.