Cessna Aircraft comes to ABACE 2015 on the heels of a milestone year in China, with highlights including the delivery of the first Citation XLS+ produced by its partnership with Avic, and the impending certification here of the Citation X+ and Citation Sovereign+. The company puts China first among export development markets, and this is evident in its having U.S. English and Chinese versions of its website.
The Cessna-Avic Aircraft (Zhuhai) Co. joint venture assembles the XLS+ for sale in China using parts, components and sub-assemblies provided by Cessna. Formed with China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company Ltd. (CAIGA), the company received its business license last July, and delivered the first two XLS+ midsize business jets to Guangzhou Zhongheng Group, Ltd. at Airshow China in Zhuhai last November.
The XLS+ was certified by CAAC in April 2014. Bill Harris, Cessna’s v-p sales, Asia and Asia Pacific, said that “Bringing the Cessna Citation XLS+ to China means introducing this market to the most successful business jet ever built.”
The light-midsize XLS+ carries up to 12 passengers, and with a range of 2,111 nm, it can fly nonstop between Beijing and Hong Kong, or Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Wichita-based Cessna’s Citation X+, the world’s fastest business jet, and the newly introduced Citation Sovereign+ are on track to gain certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) this year. The Citation X+ made its first appearance in China at the Zhuhai show last November.
Scott Ernest, president and CEO of Cessna’s parent company, Textron Aviation, said, “Both the Citation X+ and Sovereign+ are extremely well-suited for the China market as they combine excellent performance, large-cabin comfort, and superb acquisition and operating costs.”
The midsize-cabin Citation X+ seats up to 12 passengers, has a maximum operating altitude of 51,000 feet (15,545 meters), and a maximum speed of Mach 0.935. Its 3,408-nautical-mile range gives operators the ability to fly non-stop between Beijing and New Delhi, Singapore and Tokyo, Shanghai and Darwin, or Hong Kong and Dubai. “The whole of Asia is one flight away,” said Ernest.
Both cabins feature Cessna’s Clairity cabin management system that offers passengers smartphone or tablet control of cabin lighting, window shades, temperature, and audio and video entertainment (digital media, MP3/iPhone, Blu-Ray). The interior of all three models can be configured in a wide array of seating layouts, color choices and entertainment options, and can be outfitted for international Wi-Fi connectivity, ensuring time onboard can be spent productively–even as they optimize productivity on the ground.
“Having the ability to quickly meet face-to-face with business partners and customers is key to our continued success and business growth,” said Madam Xu Shuqing, chairman and president, Guangzhou Zhongheng Group, launch customer for the China-built XLS+.
The most distinctive outward difference of both the Citation X+ and Sovereign+ over past Citation models is the addition of winglets, allowing the aircraft to cruise efficiently at higher altitudes and consume less fuel, as well as improving takeoff and landing performance at higher elevations or on hot days.
While the focus at ABACE is on these three jets, Cessna manufactures eight Citation models (not including its in-development long-range Citation Longitude) and Ernest believes that “For customers in China seeking to make smart investments for business aviation, Citations are exemplary with respect to performance and operating value, without sacrificing the cabin amenities and connectivity that make business travel most productive.”
Cessna’s C-208 production partnership in China has also had a successful year. Cessna-AVIC Aircraft (Shijiazhuang) Co., another joint venture with CAIGA, has been delivering the single-engine turboprop aircraft for sale in China since December 2013. In March 2014, CAAC granted approval for the Cessna Grand Caravan EX to operate on floats in China, resulting in an increase in orders for amphibious models, capable of operating from land or water. The joint venture operations in Shijiazhuang include final assembly, paint, testing, interior installation, customization, flight-testing and delivery.
Customers for Grand Caravan EX Amphibian aircraft include Reignwood Group, which ordered ten to expand its flight services and operate air tours in southeast China; Meiya Air for aerial sightseeing in Wuzhizhou Island of Sanya; and Joy Air, which conducts charter tourism flights among Shanghai, Zhoushan and Shengsi Islands. Cessna also helped organize China’s first Floatplane Operator Conference, held last December at its Shijiazhuang joint-venture facility, “to help build a community among current and prospective operators,” said Harris. “We’re interested in supporting the long-term growth of the floatplane industry in China and general aviation as a whole, as our joint-venture activity shows.”
Though Cessna (exhibiting at the Textron Aviation Chalet and the static display) has scaled back some of its original partnership and production plans in China, the company is clearly committed to the market. “Having an increased presence in-country has allowed us to be closer and more responsive to customers,” Harris said, and the company will continue “actively investing in the growth of general aviation in China and partnering with local entities to elevate the use of aircraft as business productivity tools.”