For a market that company president and CEO Scott Ernest describes as remaining soft, Cessna is continuing its product development schedule. During the company’s press conference here yesterday he announced that the Wichita airframer has launched a new version of its midsize Citation Sovereign, and invited show attendees to visit the new aircraft, which has been under development for the past year-and-a-half, at the static display. Three of the upgraded Sovereigns are currently flying and have thus far accumulated approximately 800 flight-test hours.
Urbana, Illinois-based Frasca International has expanded its market share in China with contracts totaling eight flight simulators this year and has also developed its first level-D full-motion simulator.
Before digging into the details of each of the light jet markets, it’s worth noting some global factors affecting the market. In 2012, the big story in the light jet market was Europe and the devaluing euro. As the light jet market typically trades in U.S. dollars, with the euro dropping nearly 20 percent in value compared to last year, European sellers saw an opportunity to take advantage of the strong dollar and liquidate at relatively lower dollar values for their assets, yielding a higher amount of euros.
Irvine, Calif.-based JetSuite announced an order today for 15 Cessna Citation CJ3s, which will double the size of its fleet and expand its offerings beyond the Embraer Phenom 100. The charter membership firm started taking bookings today for the new, longer-range CJ3s, though inaugural flights won’t begin until November 19. During the first year of operations, JetSuite’s CJ3 service will be available between any points east of the Mississippi and from the East to and from Aspen and Vail, and through Eastern Canada and the Caribbean.
UK-based ConnectJets has launched Jet Card Europe as an occupied-hours, all-inclusive block charter program that incorporates a loyalty plan through which members can earn free flight hours and other benefits. Clients can join by signing up for 25 hours or more per year and earn one free flight hour for every 50 hours flown.
Six months after launching its midsize Citation Latitude, Cessna Aircraft today at EBACE announced a $25.9 million stretched version–the Longitude–that will fly 4,000 nm at Mach 0.82. First flight is scheduled for 2016, with entry into service in 2017. “The aircraft is long on range, high on value and low on price,” Cessna president and CEO Scott Ernest said at the unveiling.
Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter parent company Textron reported first-quarter revenues of $2.9 billion yesterday, up 15.2 percent from a year ago, and $247 million in manufacturing profits, an $80 million increase attributable largely to Bell. While quarterly revenues at Cessna increased by $113 million year-over-year, to $669 million, the division still recorded a loss of $6 million, though the red ink was shallower than the $38 million loss in last year’s first quarter.
Bell Helicopter and Cessna announced that their joint service facility, operated by Aviation Service in Prague, Czech Republic, has received EASA Part 145 MRO certification. The certification allows for maintenance, inspection, repair and component overhaul of the Bell 206, 407, 412, 427 and 429. It also gives Cessna the capability to perform base and line maintenance–including systems, avionics and powerplant support–for all Citations except the CJ3, CJ4 and X. Training is planned to incorporate those three models this year.
Cessna Aircraft and the Aviation Industry Corp. of China (Avic), this morning, are expected to give more details of their plans to begin joint production of business jets in China. The two companies are holding a press conference here at the ABACE show in Shanghai, following last Friday’s signing of two strategic agreements in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
The Cessna Citation M2, a CJ1+ derivative announced in late September at the NBAA Convention in Las Vegas, flew on Friday from the aircraft manufacturer’s headquarters at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. According to Cessna, the M2 prototype’s inaugural flight lasted a little more than 1.5 hours and included tests of its Garmin avionics, autopilot, Williams engines and aircraft systems.