Cessna’s New Boss Takes the Stage at NBAA 2011
Cessna Aircraft’s new president and CEO Scott Ernest took the NBAA stage for the first time at NBAA 2011 in Las Vegas yesterday, introducing his new leadership team and reaffirming the Wichita-based OEM’s dedication to the light-to-midsize jet and single-engine piston markets and remaining atop the customer support standings among aircraft manufacturers.
Ernest took over the helm at Cessna four months ago and took advantage of a packed press conference to introduce the team; Brad Thress, senior v-p of business jets; Jodi Noah, v-p of single-engine/prop aircraft; and Mark Paolucci, senior v-p of sales and marketing. It is a team that Ernest expects to carry Cessna forward.
Part of that movement is Cessna’s new Citation M2 light business jet, which makes its first public debut this week in the form of a cabin mock-up on display at the Cessna exhibit (Booth No. C9044).
It is an airplane, said Ernest, for which operator feedback and owner insight has indicated interest. He added that Cessna expects to see the M2 draw customers new to the Citation family, as well as from the ranks of existing Citation Mustang owners and from CJ1+ owners who want a new, more advanced Citation.
Officially launched in September, the $4.194-million, six-passenger twinjet is positioned between the Citation Mustang and the Citation CJ family. The preliminary specs call for a max speed of 400 knots and a range of 1,300 nm. Thress noted that it will fly 40 knots faster than its Phenom 100 competitor from Embraer and have a 37-percent better rate of climb. The prototype is on track for a first flight later this year.
Also on the agenda yesterday was discussion of Cessna’s Clairity, a scalable solution for controlling the cabin via an intuitive user interface. Developed by Cessna in partnership with Dallas-based Heads Up Technologies, Clairity ties into the avionics systems and can integrate cabin electrical systems and data and communication sharing through a fiber-optic backbone. It is controlled through either a touchscreen user interface at each seat or the customer’s personal electronic device, resulting in “the ultimate connectivity experience.”
The controllers, or Wi-Fi connectivity to a personal electronic device, allow complete control of cabin lighting, window shades, temperature, audio (digital media, MP3 player, iPhone) and video (digital, Blu-ray and individual interactive moving map). The basic system includes interactive moving maps and USB/device inputs. Options such as satellite radio, Blu-ray players, external cameras or high-speed Internet browsing can be easily added. Further, it is “completely scalable across our product line and is now the basis for our cabin technology roadmap,” said Cindy Halsey, Cessna v-p of interior design, engineering and development.
Clairity is standard on the new Citation Ten and is an option on the Citation M2, and may be applied to future aircraft models.
In terms of marketing, Ernest suggested a futility in attempting to chase low-cost labor markets all over the world. “The reason for a presence in China,” he said, “is primarily to open that market.”
In response to a question regarding the possibility of the sale of Cessna’s single-engine/prop business, Ernest said there is no such intention, and added, “We need to continue to be in that business.” He also repeated Cessna’s intention not to revive the super-midsize Columbus program and suggested that at this time, Cessna has no interest in that particular market. Meanwhile, said Ernest, Cessna must continue to invest in the future, and added that he expects “a slight uptick” this year over last.
It was a response echoed by Paolucci, who noted, “We can’t wait for the market to improve.”