Triton Aerospace is getting set to unveil a small airplane designed to be used in flight schools, said company president Thomas Hsueh.
The single-engine Triton Skytrek is an inexpensive two-person plane that could replace aging aircraft at flight schools throughout the country, Hsueh said.
He said there is a shortage of general aviation pilots in the United States and he anticipates more demand at flight schools.
La Conner’s Triton Aerospace is a subsidiary of Triton America.
Triton America is made up of Triton Aerospace, two other Skagit County companies — Bayview Composites and Pioneer Point Marina — and others out of state. It was founded in 2009.
On Wednesday, a pair of Skytrek planes sat at a hangar at the Skagit Regional Airport during an hourslong Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness certification session.
Inside the airport terminal, Hsueh and an FAA official went over information about the plane.
Outside the hangar, Triton America Vice President Theodore A. Ginsburg showed off the planes. Inside were a pair of bucket seats, each with its own control stick.
The planes have a cruising speed of about 120 mph with a range of 500 miles, Ginsburg said.
No price has been set, he said, but the planes are likely to cost $160,000.
“It’s a growing market with great demand, and it’s a good airplane to learn from,” Ginsburg said.
The two planes were built at a Triton facility in China, then transported to La Conner where they were reassembled, said Hseuh, who was born in China but has spent most his life in the U.S.
Hseuh said there will be a market for these planes in China, which has few general aviation pilots.
“The (Chinese) government is full speed trying to catch up with the West,” Hseuh said.
The light-use aircraft will be the first built in China by a U.S.-based company and the first certified by both the FAA and the Chinese equivalent, the Civil Aviation Authority.
After the Skagit Regional Airport stop, the planes will be trucked to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for an exhibition put on by the Experimental Aircraft Association.
When Triton America starts taking orders, the planes will continue to be built in China. The U.S.-bound planes will be assembled in La Conner, Ginsburg said.
“We are ready to start kicking them out,” he said.