New Models On Tap For Cessna

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Cessna and Bell Helicopters will introduce new models and upgrades of existing aircraft as early as 2012 as parent company Textron boosts investment in the two companies to coincide with an expected industry turnaround next year. In an interview with Bloomberg, Textron CEO Scott Donnelly said work is already under way on the recovery plans. "The programs are there, the teams are working, so we're going full-speed ahead," Donnelly told Bloomberg. "You will see some refreshes, some block changes to some aircraft, and we also have a couple things in there that will be brand-new aircraft." His comments are sure to fuel speculation that the Columbus large-cabin business jet shelved 18 months ago will be among the first to be revived.

Donnelly's comments come a couple of weeks after a similarly cheery outlook was expressed by Pratt & Whitney Canada CEO John Saabas, particularly concerning the future of its PW800 series engines. The Columbus was to be the launch customer for the PW800. Cessna has long wanted to crack the lucrative, almost recession-proof super-luxury market and Columbus was to be its foray into competition with Gulfstream and Bombardier. Meanwhile, Donnelly and Cessna CEO Jack Pelton will be in Farnborough later this month with Cessna's core small-to-midsize jets that were propped up while development money was shifted from the Columbus. Pelton told Bloomberg the financial world is unfolding as Cessna believed it would and that growth in business jet sales will happen two years after the bulk of the economy returns to normal.