Cessna Confirms New Phantom Single

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Cessna has now officially announced what AVweb told you last week -- that it's planning a "brand new, next generation" single-engine aircraft. However, the company claims it doesn't know what such a plane might look like. Spokesman Dick Ziegler told The Wichita Eagle that dealers were briefed on the project last week at their annual meeting and were asked for input on its design. "We are committed to maintaining leadership in the single-engine piston field," Ziegler said. Cessna's grip on that distinction is tenuous as Cirrus Design continues to increase sales of its composite and glass SR series, which may have prompted a comment from Cessna CEO Jack Pelton last month nicknaming the new plane the "Cirrus Killer." Ziegler said the new design will offer improved safety, performance, comfort and economics. It remains to be seen if "improved safety" translates to a parachute. (Cirrus Design -- through stock holdings -- currently owns at least 15 percent of BRS, the company that provides its whole-plane parachute systems.) "We have made no decision -- and I can't stress that enough -- on how the airplane will look, what specifications it will meet or what timetable we'll look at for production," Ziegler said. He also said there has been no decision on systems, materials or features. The company has made one decision, however. The new plane will be built at its single-engine plant in Independence, Kan.