Cessna has “slowed down the Columbus program significantly,” company chairman, CEO and president Jack Pelton said during a Q&A session after giving the keynote speech at yesterday’s Aviation Insurance Association conference in San Francisco. While Cessna will maintain its current level of research and development spending at 6 to 7 percent, he said, “Our revenues have gone down significantly in the last year.
In December last year, aircraft manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace laid off “a number of contract employees” and advised that at the end of the first quarter 2009 it would consider the possibility of full-time employee layoffs. Two months into this year, parent company General Dynamics announced a reduction in force that comprises 1,200 workers, including approximately 600 contract personnel.
Cessna Aircraft yesterday confirmed that, global economic woes aside, it is moving forward on new product development projects, including the Citation Columbus and CJ4, as well as the Cessna 162 SkyCatcher light sport aircraft. “Despite the uncertainty of the world’s economic environment, we believe it is critical that we not compromise our future.
When Cessna announced the formal launch of the Columbus large-cabin jet program earlier this year, chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton said that it was a good time to build a new airplane despite the economic situation, which has worsened since that announcement.
“Due to continued softening in the global economic environment,” Cessna Aircraft is revising the Citation jet production schedule for next year, according to a statement from Textron, Cessna’s parent company. Textron had previously expected Cessna to ship 535 Citations next year, but now predicts that jet deliveries in 2009 will be only “up slightly” from the 475 planned this year.
Cessna flew the first production Citation CJ4, S/N001, on August 19, a little more than three months after the first flight of the prototype. Production S/N 001 will fly avionics and systems certification tests, and S/N 002 will be used for function and reliability testing and company service tests.
This week at the Farnborough airshow, Cessna said its largest CitationJet, the CJ4, remains on schedule for FAA certification in the second half of next year and initial deliveries in 2010. The Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer continues to fly the CJ4 prototype while working toward first flight of its first two production CJ4s and the start of production later this year.
Last month’s maiden flight of the Cessna Citation CJ4 prototype was “a rousing success,” according to the Wichita-based OEM. “I think ‘flawless’ was the term the pilots used,” said a Cessna spokesman. At press time, the aircraft had logged four more hours of flight time.
The Cessna Citation CJ4 prototype successfully achieved a two-hour 22-minute maiden flight yesterday morning, taking off from McConnell AFB in Wichita and landing at nearby Mid-Continent Airport. “It was an outstanding first flight,” said Cessna senior engineering test pilot Dan Morris, who flew the aircraft with engineering flight-test manager Dave Bonifield as copilot.
Gary Hay, who started working on Cessna’s manufacturing floor in 1966 and worked his way up to CEO just over two years ago, retired unexpectedly from the Wichita-based airframer on June 30. Russ Meyer, president of Textron’s new aircraft sector and who was Cessna CEO and chairman from 1975 to 2000, announced he would serve as interim chairman and CEO until a permanent replacement is appointed.