Cessna remains optimistic about Europe. “In spite of all the negative news you get in the press about economic activity in Europe, our order inquiry activity from [that region] has remained very positive,” said Brad Thress, Cessna senior vice president for business jets.
At the top of the list for enhancing its presence on this side of the Atlantic is Cessna’s new factory service center in Valencia, Spain. Scheduled to open in September, the $30 million facility will feature 64,000 sq ft of hangar space and another 88,000 sq ft dedicated to office, shop and storage space. FlightSafety International already is training technicians for the center.
Thress thinks Valencia’s location will be a big customer draw because, while the bulk of the European Citation fleet is not necessarily based near that city, Spain is a popular destination for those airplanes. Elsewhere in Europe, Thress said, Cessna’s new Prague service center, colocated with one for sister company Bell Helicopter, “is growing.”
“It’s a small facility for us [32,000 square feet], but it seems to stay quite busy and we are pleasantly surprised,” Thress said. “But Valencia will be our largest European facility and we are quite excited about that.”
Cessna operates another factory maintenance facility at Paris Le Bourget and has three mobile service unit trucks stationed throughout Europe that allow the OEM to “take maintenance to the customer,” Thress said. Another 13 factory-authorized service centers operate throughout the region. Cessna and Bell also have partnered on a parts distribution warehouse at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. It opened two years ago and Cessna is constantly adding inventory to it.
Thress said European interest in new Cessna product offerings under development–the M2, Citation Ten and Citation Latitude–is high and the company has brought its full contingent of business jets and the turboprop single Caravan to this year’s EBACE for display. “We’re very busy with our new product development activities and everything is going pretty well.”
By way of more specific program updates, Thress said the Citation Ten prototype has flown approximately 150 hours; completed flight stability, control and stall testing; and is in the midst of high-speed testing, “per plan.” When certified, the Ten is expected to be the world’s fastest business jet.
The second Citation Ten test aircraft is scheduled to fly this summer. The first test aircraft is not completely conforming because it carries increased test and safety equipment aboard, including an escape hatch in the belly.
Design is frozen on the recently announced midsize Citation Latitude and vendor selection is “85 percent complete.” Overall, Thress said the Latitude is “progressing per plan” and that the new avionics system being developed for both the Citation Ten and Citation Latitude–the Garmin G5000–has so far “exceeded our expectations.”
However, Cessna’s new M2, a follow-on aircraft to the Citation CJ1, is generating the most buzz in Europe right now, Thress said. “The interest in Europe is quite strong,” particularly from Germany. Thress said many M2 customers are coming from the ranks of single turboprop owners, and fully 45 percent of M2 orders to date are non-Cessna customers. An M2 fitted with winglets recently began test flights. The M2 features the Garmin G3000 avionics system that shares much of the functionality of the G5000 being developed for Cessna’s new larger jets. “They share a lot of commonality” and that has drawn customers in, Thress said.