By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
When Cessna put the Columbus program on hold in April, hope remained that the jet, which would have been Cessna's biggest ever, would reappear sometime in the future. "Don't write the Columbus off your radar screen," said Lewis Campbell, CEO of Textron, Cessna's parent company, at the time. But last week, Textron said the Columbus project is over. "Upon additional analysis of the business jet market related to this product offering, we decided to formally cancel further development of the Citation Columbus," the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Textron will take a $43 million write-off. The SEC statement says Cessna has spent about $50 million on tooling, facilities and other costs for the Columbus, most of which cannot be recovered or used for other projects. The 10-passenger, $27 million jet was expected to start deliveries in 2014. Cessna had invested five years of market research into the Columbus, gathering data, showing a mockup to customers, and incorporating their feedback into the design. The plan was to build a luxury jet with Cessna's biggest cabin and longest range, with powerful new fuel-efficient engines that could fly 4,600 miles nonstop on less fuel than any comparable airplane. With a 600-mph cruise speed, the Columbus would have been just slightly slower than the Citation X, Cessna's fastest jet. About $50 million in deposits were collected before the program was suspended.