ABACE Convention News

Longer-range Citation Latitude Should Boost Cessna’s Reach in Asia

 - March 28, 2012, 1:30 AM

Cessna is looking to give longer legs to its new mid-size $14.9 million Citation Latitude in a move that should suit the Asian market. The company recently announced a 15-percent range increase for the aircraft, to 2,300 nm (4,257 km) and was quick to point out all the interAsian city pairings this made possible.

They include the following flights: Beijing-Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta-Taipei, Shanghai-Singapore, Hong Kong-Tokyo, Hong Kong-Chennai, Manila-Port Moresby, Manila-Kolkato, Singapore-Mumbai and Sydney-Perth. These city pairings are based on Mach 0.80 (980 km/h) cruise speeds at 43,000 feet (13,106 m) with Boeing’s assessment of 85 percent annual winds.

Aiming the Latitude at the Asian market is Cessna’s latest step at increasing its presence here. Later this year the manufacturer is to open a joint 524,200-sq-ft maintenance and sales facility at Singapore’s Seletar Aerospace Park in partnership with sister company Bell Helicopter.

Asia currently represents just 10 percent of business jet sales for Cessna. By the time the new Latitude rolls off the production line in 2015, the Wichita-based OEM hopes to have all the necessary infrastructure in place to support it in Asia, and that includes personalizing aircraft interiors to reflect cultural tastes.

Cessna vice president Cindy Halsey said the company is in the process of building more design centers around the world–including in Asia–to better accommodate specific regional tastes.

“We plan to have design centers throughout the world and each of these design centers will be armed with this [customer] toolkit,” Halsey told AIN. “They will have the ability to tailor and design their own look for the different markets. We want boots on the ground in different parts of the world [belonging to design] professionals, who can take that [look] and alter it to accommodate individual customer tastes.”

To that end, Cessna recently announced a substantial increase in its international sales force and is moving to improve the quality of its internal communications at all levels of the company. On March 1, the company appointed Bill Harris as vice president of sales for Asia and Asia Pacific. Singapore-based Harris began his Cessna career as manager of single-engine sales in Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Beyond its look and feel, Cessna feels the Latitude is ideally suited for the Asian market because of its performance and easy to maintain design simplicity. The company avoided incorporating fly-by-wire controls, such as those being offered on the Embraer Legacy 500, on the Latitude.

While the aircraft’s range will be 500 nm more than the company’s current midsize offering, the $12.5 million Citation XLS+, the Latitude will retain that aircraft’s good short-field capabilities, but with a much more comfortable cabin and more modern avionics. Designed for missions lasting up to an hour longer than those flown by the XLS+, the Latitude’s new cabin has expanded to increase passenger comfort.

Its flexible flat-floor cabin measures 72 inches (183 cm) tall and 77 inches (196 cm) wide, with six individual executive seats and a side-facing two-place divan in the forward cabin. But Cessna designers also used a clever combination of lighting, seat and window positioning to create an illusion of even greater interior space. One example of this: The LED cabin lighting is controlled by proprietary software that can affect both shape and intensity of the light beam.

Passengers increasingly want the latest and greatest electronic options regardless of cabin size, especially on longer flights. In a midsize aircraft this presents challenges in terms of both space and weight.

Cessna plans to address the issue by incorporating the cabin management and in-flight entertainment systems into the aircraft’s Garmin G5000 avionics system, the same one being developed for the larger Citation Ten jet. Like the Citation Ten, the Latitude will use the new fiber-optic Clairity cabin management system that will be fully compatible with both today’s and tomorrow’s personal devices, such as iPhones and Droids, with the ability to add features, such as VoIP, over time. It also has plenty of reserve power: Each passenger can watch a different movie but that only uses 7 percent of the system.