October 29, 2012
By Alton K. Marsh
Cessna Aircraft is surveying customers for “our upcoming family of new light jets” during the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando. Brad Thress, Cessna’s senior vice president for business jets, said a mockup shown at the convention was to gather customer input. Cessna CEO Scott Ernest offered few details, such as the number of jets in the new family or even the year they might be introduced.
The biggest news from Cessna came in a list of upgrades to the Sovereign. The upgrades have gone through 800 hours of flight testing, and one of the test aircraft was on display at Orlando Executive Airport, the static display area for the NBAA convention. The upgrades include a G5000 cockpit and autothrottles seen on other models, a boost in range of 150 nautical miles (pushing total range past 3,000 miles), and improved short-runway performance. The Clarity cabin information system is also included, as seen last year on other new Cessna models.
“We even have winglets on it which is kind of new for us,” Ernest said. It will cost $17.8 million, Thress said. That price may not be firm. When Ernest heard it, he turned to Thress and said, “Oh, really?”
Ernest noted the current market is “challenging,” yet Cessna continues to invest in new products, to include the Latitude and Longitude jets, the upgrade to an 867-shaft-horsepower Caravan, the diesel 182, the Citation M2 ) (don’t call it a Mustang), and the Corvalis TTX. “If you don’t invest, you really don’t have a business,” Ernest said. Thress said the M2 has had a strong response from the market and has accumulated 350 flight test hours. It is a 400-knot (true airspeed) airplane, and Cessna officials frequently compared it to the Embraer Phenom 100, its main competitor. The Corvalis will be delivered in the first quarter of 2013. The 155-knot (true airspeed) diesel 182 Skylane JT-A will be delivered in the second quarter of 2013. The 4,000-nm Longitude is headed for wind-tunnel testing.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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