Cessna Shelves Citation Columbus Program

 - April 30, 2009, 12:09 PM

When Cessna chairman, CEO and president Jack Pelton said on Monday that the company’s large-cabin Citation Columbus program was being slowed, few could have imagined that two days later the Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer would announce the suspension of the project. In a letter sent to employees yesterday, Pelton said that the “very difficult decision” to suspend this program will help “ensure focus is on our strong products in existing markets,” adding that the Columbus project “still has great potential” and will be pursued “when the market recovers.” The Columbus was launched in February last year after more than a year of polling customers about its large-cabin concept mock-up. Last month, Cessna announced it was delaying the Columbus project by six months, the first hint of R&D funding problems. Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia said the announcement is “bad news” and reflects either a lack of confidence in the business jet market recovery or fallout from Textron’s finance division, which posted a $66 million loss in the first quarter. “I hope it’s the latter reason,” Aboulafia said.