Despite Downturn, Cessna Remains Focused on New Product Development



Despite Downturn, Cessna Remains Focused on New Product Development

By Bill Goldston


WICHITA, Kan., Jan. 14, 2009 - Cessna Aircraft Company, a Textron Inc. company, continues to move forward on new product development projects including the Citation Columbus, the Citation CJ4 and the Model 162 SkyCatcher. “Despite the uncertainty of the world’s economic environment, we believe it is critical that we not compromise our future. Our new product development programs are proceeding on schedule,” said Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack Pelton. “We remain committed to investing in these programs, whether it is in aircraft development, facility construction or ensuring we have the people resources to meet our schedule.”

The Citation Columbus was formally launched about one year ago and is planned to enter service with customers in 2014. The Citation CJ4, the newest member of the popular CJ series of light business jets, is well into certification testing and is expected to enter service early next year. The SkyCatcher Light Sport Aircraft is nearing final ASTM compliance certification and deliveries are planned to begin later this year. The $780 million Citation Columbus development program is comprised of both aircraft development and manufacturing facilities construction.

On the aircraft development side, Cessna and its design team have more than 850 employees working Columbus design tasks. Additionally, other supplier employees are working on engine and avionics tasks for the intercontinental, large-cabin business jet. Meanwhile, facilities work continues at full pace in Wichita where the new Citation Columbus assembly facility is located.



Some 450,000 cubic yards (344,050 cubic meters) of earth is being moved in to support the massive 600,000 square-foot (55,742 square meters) building. Construction is expected to start in March following selection of a general contractor for the project. The Citation CJ4 continues toward full FAA certification later this year. Three aircraft are in the flight test program and have completed more than 330 flight hours. A test airframe successfully completed cyclic tests, reaching five lifetimes with no structural fatigue issues. “We remain 100 percent on schedule on this key program,” Pelton said. “The CJ4 is already proving to be a popular model, offering businesses the perfect blend of cost efficiency and performance.”

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