Europe remains solid for business aviation and will remain a high priority for Cessna, according to the company’s president and CEO Scott Ernest. This vote of confidence in an apparently ailing market will likely be endorsed here at EBACE today with Cessna expected to make an announcement “about a new product.”
With more than 1,000 jets in Europe, the largest fleet outside of the U.S., Cessna’s position is that it will continue to invest. “We’ll be working on the ground floor. We’re off to the races,” said Ernest, who expects a strong European market demand for the $4.19 million Citation M2, a light business jet. The aircraft offers nonstop flights between city pairs in Europe, such as Paris-Athens or Zurich-Moscow.
The M2 prototype made its first flight earlier this year, and has since been tested for avionics, systems and approaches, with scheduled certification and entry-into-service in 2013. It can carry two crew and six passengers at a maximum cruise speed of 400 ktas. The aircraft will compete with the Embraer Phenom 100, which will be its main rival. Ernest sees that as a nonissue, however. “We have products with the right services…and that is why we continue to sell,” he told AIN.
Another investment is the $14.9 million mid-size business jet, the Citation Latitude, which is scheduled to enter service in 2015. Cessna is reporting a high level of interest from European customers who already own or operate a Citation XLS+. 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.
Cessna is on track to open a second European Citation service center of 62,400-sq-ft hangar space in Valencia, Spain, by the fourth quarter of this year. It is strengthening its presence in Singapore with a joint service facility with sister company Bell Helicopter, to be completed this year. “This will help in servicing neighboring countries like Malaysia,” said Ernest.
Cessna believes that, in 15 years, China will be the second-largest general aviation market. Under a broad cooperation agreement signed in March with AVIC subsidiary China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. (CAIGA) and the Shijiazhuang municipal government, the next step forms a cooperation framework for an eventual joint venture. Cessna/CAIGA plans include locating the joint venture’s operations at the CAIGA facilities in Shijiazhuang to conduct final assembly, painting, testing, interior installation, customization, flight testing and delivery of the Cessna Caravan to in-country customers.
Interest in China for the Caravan for use in commuter aviation fleets as well as China’s growing tourist and sightseeing businesses is expected from many areas.