Cessna is exhibiting a cabin cross-section mockup of its new mid-size, $14.9 million Citation Latitude jet in Asia for the first time. The U.S. airframer recently announced a 15-percent range extension for the aircraft, which is scheduled to enter service in 2015.
Speaking at the Singapore Airshow, Trevor Esling, Cessna’s vice president sales for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, said specifications of the Citation Latitude had been revised to increase maximum range from 2,000 to 2,300 nmi.
“The extended range of the Citation Latitude adds nonstop flights between Singapore and cities such as Shanghai, Perth and Mumbai,” said Esling.
Announced in October 2011, the Citation Latitude will offer Cessna’s widest yet passenger cabin with stand-up access throughout its length of more than 16 feet. Scheduled for its first flight in mid-2014 and designed for a crew of two plus up to eight passengers, the aircraft will have a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet and a maximum cruise speed of 442 knots.
Financing has been a problem for many would-be bizjet owners worldwide. However, Esling explained that since Cessna offers its own financing through Cessna Finance Corp., this had not been such an issue for the company. “We see Asia as a really strong market for us. The fact we now have a salesforce of nine people here speaks volumes about our belief in this region,” he said.
The Asia Pacific region accounts for 10 percent of Cessna’s business jet sales. “We anticipate demand increasing further in the medium- to long term,” added Esling. “The region’s economic resilience during the global financial crisis, rising national prosperity and Chinese airspace liberalization make it likely that the business aviation market will mature at quite a rapid pace. We therefore expect demand for light and mid-size aircraft to rise accordingly.”
Later this year the company’s Textron parent group is set to open a service center at Singapore’s Seletar Airport covering both Cessna and Bell Helicopter products. It is also in talks with a prospective partner in China, where it would like to establish product support infrastructure.
In addition to China, Esling’s sales team also sees steady growth in demand for business aircraft in Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. India could have strong potential too, but, he maintained, it remains constrained by factors such as a discouraging tax regime.