For a market that company president and CEO Scott Ernest describes as remaining soft, Cessna is continuing its product development schedule. During the company’s press conference here yesterday he announced that the Wichita airframer has launched a new version of its midsize Citation Sovereign, and invited show attendees to visit the new aircraft, which has been under development for the past year-and-a-half, at the static display. Three of the upgraded Sovereigns are currently flying and have thus far accumulated approximately 800 flight-test hours.
Among the visible changes in the new twinjet is the addition of winglets, which Ernest acknowledged as new aerodynamic territory for Cessna. In addition to changing the appearance of the Sovereign, the winglets and the addition of new Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D engines increase the aircraft’s range by 150 nm, taking it beyond 3,000 nm. The $17.8 million jet also includes a new cockpit designed around the Garmin G5000 avionics suite with integrated autothrottle. In the cabin, a new environmental control system produces 37 percent more cooling, and improved seats with recessed armrests provide more aisle room. The bizjet also features Cessna’s new integrated Clarity cabin management system. Line flow has already started on the new Sovereign and Cessna expects to begin deliveries next year. It will also be available in a utility configuration with options to carry cargo or passengers or a mix depending on mission requirements.
Work is also progressing on the new Citation Ten, which the company has said will now revert back to the X designation of its predecessor in response to customer feedback. The twinjet, which will also feature the G5000 flight deck and autothrottle, has a top speed of Mach 0.935, leading the company once again to claim the title of fastest business jet. The aircraft will have approximately 3,240 nm range, 170 nm more than the previous model. Two of the aircraft currently in the flight-test program have accumulated more than 400 flight hours. Cessna sees the new Citation X entering service in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The M2, replacing the OEM’s CJ1+, has thus far accumulated 350 flight hours as it heads toward a planned entry-into-service in the second half of next year. The light jet uses the Garmin G3000 avionics suite and will seat six in a lavatory-equipped cabin.
Among the company’s recently announced products, assembly jigs for the midsize Latitude are being constructed. The 4,000-nm-range Longitude is gearing up for another round of wind-tunnel testing while its Snecma Silvercrest engines are put through their paces in the test cells.
On the turboprop side, the Grand Caravan EX is completing the certification process with an eye toward deliveries beginning next month. The EX has 867 shp, extra muscle that will improve its climb performance by 30 percent, shorten takeoff distance and increase hot-and-high performance, according to Jodi Noah, senior vice president of Cessna’s single-engine/propeller division. The company has also restarted production of the Corvalis piston single, equipped with Garmin G2000 avionics. The all-composite fixed-gear piston single has received a new interior, and deliveries are slated to begin in the first quarter of next year. Despite current market challenges, which include budget woes and political uncertainty, the company remains comfortable that there will be a recovery and it remains bullish on investment. “If you don’t continue investment, you don’t have a business,” said Ernest.
Cessna is approaching several milestones with existing products. In the fourth quarter it will deliver its 500th CJ2 and 400th CJ3. Cessna recently handed over its 100th CJ4, which, according to Brad Thress, the company’s senior vice president of business jets, was the biggest selling business jet model last year.
On the show floor (Booth No. 5366) the company has a fuselage mockup of what it describes as the basis for a new family of light jets. The airframer is seeking customer input on the design as it begins to narrowing down specifications for an eventual product launch. New this year at its booth, Cessna is also offering a virtual-reality simulation of several of its aircraft, which allows guests to immerse themselves in their cabins and instantly change various features.
Cessna continues to expand its worldwide customer service infrastructure with the recent opening of a new regional Citation service center in Valencia, Spain. The more than 100,000-sq-ft facility will offer support to Cessna operators in Western Europe and Northern Africa. Cessna also acquired its first UK service location. Located at Robin Hood Airport in Northern England, the 50,000-sq-ft facility formerly known as Kinch Aviation Services was rebranded as the Doncaster Citation Service Centre and offers capabilities ranging from maintenance to modernization. These new European Cessna-owned centers join factory-owned facilities in Paris and Prague.