Air Tractor has announced a 190-aircraft production schedule for 2013 – an increase of 27% over its 2011 production total.
"Over the past three years Air Tractor has greatly increased its manufacturing capacity to meet the growing global demand for our aircraft," says Air Tractor president Jim Hirsch. “We have planned carefully, and we're fully confident that we can deliver these production numbers while maintaining the quality and reliability that Air Tractor is known and respected for worldwide."
Sales in Brazil and other South American countries is as strong as it's ever been," says David Ickert, Air Tractor's vice president of finance. "In fact, we're receiving a good number of orders from all over the globe," he says. Ickert reports that export sales continue to be about half of Air Tractor's business. "Increased world-wide demand for foodstuffs has sustained very good agricultural commodity prices. Ramping up Air Tractor's manufacturing production to meet this continuing demand means our international sales should remain strong for the foreseeable future," says Ickert.
With the increased numbers of aircraft rolling off the assembly line, some have wondered if it comes with a tradeoff in quality. That's not the case, according to Bob Salyers, Air Tractor's Quality Manager. "Air Tractor employees have 'zero defects' as their goal. Our quality assurance statistics show that we're consistently meeting that goal," says Salyers. “Rather than inspect out defects, our quality assurance process takes proactive measures to prevent defects from ever occurring. The result is that we are able to keep aircraft production levels high, while maintaining our quality standards."
In 2013, the company has planned a production run of 94 AT-502B aircraft – Air Tractor's most popular model, along with 57 AT-802s, 24 AT-400s and 15 AT-602s. For operators planning to add to their fleet or replace an aging aircraft next year, Air Tractor has the aircraft, and the right aircraft to fit the size of their operation.
"With the demand that we see out there for ag airplanes, an Air Tractor is a sure thing," says Air Tractor President Jim Hirsch. "And there's not many sure things in farming and the aerial spraying business these days." Hirsch adds, "The airframe, the Pratt & Whitney engine, the safety and engineering of an Air Tractor is solid. And so is our company, as well as the global dealer network that supports our customers. Good pilots and ag operators are always looking for ways to minimize risk; they're looking for a sure thing. And that's just what Air Tractor offers them."