Yesterday at an EBACE press conference, Cessna CEO Scott Ernest provided progress reports on current production in its jet, turboprops and piston lines as well as on the research-and-development status of its mid-range and super-mid-range cabin jets.
“The Garmin 3000-equipped Citation M2 is right on track and, best of all, we’ve sold out production completely for the next two years,” he said. “The [new] Cessna Citation X is expected in quarter-four 2013, while the G5000-equipped Latitude should be flying by January 2014, and I expect that to be in service in 2015.”
Ernest was clearly excited about the wind-tunnel testing of the Longitude wings, which has just been completed. “We’ve verified that the wing will meet the 0.86-Mach speed requirement for the aircraft,” he said. “Next is the tube design.” The Longitude fuselage is 2.5 times the length of the Latitude’s, with a nearly nine-foot-long cabin-accessible baggage area. The Longitude’s Snecma Silvercrest engines are already on test stands, according to Ernest. “The Longitude is designed to be there for Cessna customers’ upgrading. It is probably the largest jet that Cessna will make in the next five years,” he said.
On the lighter side of Cessna, the company reported that the diesel-powered Turbo Skylane JT-A should be certified in June 2013 and the speedy piston single TTx is expected to be certified by the end of the second quarter 2013. Production of the TTx is sold out through the end of the year. Demand for the Caravan EX is still high, he said, with 85 percent of sales outside of the U.S.
In the light trainer market, Cessna 172 sales to Russia and China have gone so well that Ernest is considering increasing production of the aircraft this year to accommodate the market. When asked if a diesel Cessna 172 was a possibility, he replied, “I want to be sold out on the Cessna 182 Turbo Skylane first.”
That good news was in contrast to the considerably softer sales forecast for Cessna’s light jets. “We have made 425 Citation Mustangs,” said Ernest. When asked if that market is saturated, he responded, “I don’t see the market growing because used light jets are a good value right now. In response we’ve adjusted our production volume down for our smaller jets.”
In other news, Cessna noted it has expanded its company-owned service centers in Europe to six: in Valencia (Spain), Doncaster (UK), Paris, Prague, Dusseldorf and Zurich. In addition to the aircraft it has on the static line, the company is also exhibiting its mobile service center, which is parked at its booth (7901) in the EBACE exhibit hall.
And finally, on the personnel side, the OEM introduced Kriya Shortt as its new senior vice president of sales. A Cessna veteran of more than 16 years, Shortt most recently served as vice president of sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa. In turn, she introduced Tom Perry, who is taking on her former role, and Alessandro Barizzi, the new vice president of European customer service.