EBACE Convention News

Cessna names additional suppliers for Columbus

 - May 19, 2008, 10:15 AM

Cessna Aircraft yesterday revealed additional supplier choices for its large-cabin Citation Columbus, a $26.995 million twinjet scheduled for FAA certification in 2013 and first deliveries in 2014.

Vought Aircraft Industries will design and produce the airplane’s wing, Cessna said. The Citation X currently uses upper and lower wing panel assemblies manufactured at Vought’s Nashville, Tennessee factory, where Columbus wing production also will take place.

Cessna also announced the selection of Goodrich for the landing gear and Agro-Tech for the fuel system on the Columbus. The Wichita, Kansas manufacturer said this will be the first complete fuel system Agro-Tech will produce for a Citation. It delivers fuel system components for other Citation models.

Cessna previously announced the choice of Spirit AeroSystems to produce the Columbus’ fuselage and empennage, Parker Aerospace for the hybrid fly-by-wire flight controls, Rockwell Collins for the avionics and Pratt & Whitney Canada for the engines.

Relying on Outsourcing
The level of outsourcing Cessna has chosen for the Columbus is unprecedented for a Citation. The OEM has tapped suppliers in the past for certain components, such as the empennage on the Citation Sovereign, but never before has it handed over so much responsibility for a new airplane program to outside firms.

Cessna senior executive vice president for sales and marketing Roger Whyte said the strong reliance on partner suppliers will allow it to certify and deliver the Columbus more quickly. “The reasons have to do with capacity and being able to bring the airplane to the market when we want to,” he said.

Cessna will build a Columbus final assembly plant in Wichita ahead of the airplane’s certification. The company expects to hire an extra 1,000 workers at the factory, who will be added to a workforce that numbers more than 15,000. Illustrating how quickly Cessna is growing, Whyte said 1,500 new employees have been brought on in the last 12 months alone.

Ramping up Production
Cessna delivered 387 airplanes last year and expects that number to rise to around 470 this year. Some notable milestones the company will reach this year include the delivery of the 400th Citation CJ2, 300th Citation X, 200th Sovereign and 100th Mustang. Cessna built 47 Mustangs last year and expects to deliver another 100 this year, followed by a production ramp-up to 150 Mustangs a year thereafter.

Other notable achievements for Cessna recently include the first flight of the light-sport SkyCatcher, due to enter production in 2009, completion of the Citation XLS+ certification program (the type certificate is expected within a few weeks) and first flight on May 5 of the CJ4. Certification of that model is expected in the second half of next year.

Whyte said Cessna has received more than 500 Mustang orders, with many of them coming from European buyers. Blink, a startup UK-based charter operator, has ordered 30, he said, and London Executive Aviation has taken delivery of its first three, with seven more still on order. Other strong sellers in Europe, Whyte said, are the CJ2+, CJ3, XLS and Sovereign.