Things are going very well here at the factory and production is whizzing along at a rate never seen before. We have set monthly incentive based targets for the factory and so far everyone has upped their game and put in the extra hard work to meet them, and almost doubled production. That means six factory built planes a month rolling off the production line and eight full kits per month. We continue to try to manufacture and produce faster and faster and hope to see lead times reduced even more over the next six months. We'll keep you updated on any changes (hopefully positive only) to lead times, but right now from order being placed to test flying here at the factory is 3 months. So things are certainly an improvement on this time last year!
We have a number of new staff members, not only in the factory but also in management roles to increase production and improve on efficiency and accuracy. Kit packing and The Stores have a new leading lady by the name of Karin Beatty who has whipped things into shape and instituted a number of new processes. There has already been a remarkable improvement in the time taken and accuracy of kit packing. Composites has been taken over by Paul Beatty (Karin's husband), who has many years of experience in composite work building sailplanes and most recently worked for Jonkers Sailplanes, heading up their composites department.
Sales keep ticking along steadily. At the moment we are allocating Sling 2 serial number 175 and Sling 4 serial number 047, and to date 49 of those serial numbers have been for export! So almost 25% of our sales now are international! Well done to all at the factory! We will of course have a true to form "Airplane Factory mother of all parties for the sale of the 200th Sling 2 and 100th Sling 4, to which you will all be expected to dress in tight revealing dresses and makeup for the men and pilots uniforms for the girls! Mike and James have promised to come….. Well in nothing…..
Sales of Sling 4 aircraft have taken off in both South Africa and the USA
Other news is that we are gearing up for Oshkosh 2014. We won't be flying there in a Sling this year but Matt and Ryan, our TAF Inc. USA directors will be flying at least one of their planes to the show. We have a great stand again and hope it will be as good as last year. As you know, we sold a plane at the show last year, the first plane Mike Blyth has ever sold at an air show!
Oshkosh 2013 in our production prototype Sling 4
The Sling has really taken off around the USA over the last year. It has been featured in several aviation magazines with some very positive press. Sling 2 kit sales are on the increase! We have shipped six Sling 2 kits this year already, and further shipments are on the way of two factory built Sling 2's and Four Sling 4 kits. We already have orders for the first two Sling 4 kits, which will be delivered to customers in the next couple of months. And, we have just sold another ready-to-fly Sling LSA, which is going to a happy customer in California. We'll continue this trend of amazing growth and start off the 2014 air show season by attending SUN 'n FUN in Lakeland, Florida from April 1st - April 6th.
The Sling and Airplane Factory has been featured in many international aviation magazines over the last year
TAF USA is very excited to be taking the Sling to Florida for the second year in a row. Matt and Ryan will be located in the Light Sport Area, Paradise City, and available for demo flights all day, every day. Go see Matt and Ryan in their booth, LP-29, to check out the airplane and go for a ride. "If this year's show is anything like last year's then we are prepared to have a great time."
We have a busy calendar of local air shows we are attending this year too and will be sure to be present at all shows in the Northern part of the country, but also aim to follow the KZN Winter tour too. If you have never seen a Sling up close and personal or want to arrange a demo flight please be sure to let us know which air shows you will be attending and check in to see if we will be there too. We would love to meet you and show you our Slings. To contact us go to our website www.airplanefactory.co.za and send us a message. We will respond as soon as we can.
Other air show news is that we will be entering a couple of our demo Slings in the Race of Champions this year! We hope to see a good turnout of Slings and another podium position. Look out for our taildragger up front!
We are entering our prototype Sling 2 Tail Dragger in the Race of Champions
We recently launched a new website ( www.airplanefactory.co.za)
which has proved to be a great success. Our google analytics stats are vastly improved on our old site and we have received numerous compliments. It seems that quote requests are also coming in much more than before. I am not sure if this is due to an improved site or just more interest and more people worldwide starting to wake up and notice the Sling. Please take a wander through the new site and feel free to give me feedback. Constructive criticism will be accepted through gritted teeth….. Jokes, feedback will be happily accepted.
Finally to anyone who wants to come to our factory, meet us and take a look around, please send us a message from our website, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org . We would love to meet you!
Cheers from Andrew, and the rest of the team at TAF!