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Sports Aircraft Manufacturing Startup Building 300k SF Plant In Tijuana

This 300k SF ICON manufacturing plant is opening in November in Tijuana and will provide 1,000 jobs.

Vacaville, CA-based ICON Aircraft, a startup aircraft manufacturer, has announced construction of a 300k SF manufacturing plant in Tijuana, Mexico, to produce composite air-frame components for the company’s A5 aircraft. The A5 is a consumer-targeted “light sport” airplane with wings that fold up. It is small enough to be loaded on a trailer and pulled behind a car. These aircraft are growing in popularity because operators only need a valid driver’s license and training.

The new facility, which will open in November, will provide up to 1,000 jobs. So far, ICON has delivered 12 A5s to ICON Flight Centers for training purposes, but expects to complete a total of 20 planes by year's end. The Tijuana facility is central to ICON’s improved production strategy, which calls for bringing composite fabrication in-house. Previously, ICON outsourced composite production.

“By bringing composite fabrication in-house, we will be able to ensure that components meet ICON’s strict quality and cost standards, while also allowing us to more rapidly implement changes as we continue to improve our processes,” ICON CEO and founder Kirk Hawkins says. The parts produced in Tijuana will be shipped to ICON’s manufacturing aircraft facility in Northern California.

ICON’s VP of manufacturing Thomas Wieners, who will oversee operations at the Tijuana facility, says the company selected Tijuana because it is a rapidly emerging industrial center with infrastructure and a skilled labor force with expertise in composites and aerospace and the capacity to produce the volume and quality ICON needs to meet demand for the A5.

The new ICON facility adds to Tijuana’s prominence as a growing center for aerospace, automotive and industrial-type technology production. Among the many global companies with facilities here are Gulfstream, GE, BRP, Polaris, Audi and Ford.