Columbus Not Quite Dead?

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Cessna's large-cabin business jet might be officially dead, but CEO Jack Pelton is suggesting it still has a pulse. Pelton surprised a packed media conference Monday by saying he prefers to consider the Columbus project "suspended" even though it's been formally cancelled by parent company Textron. He said the stronger language was important for "contractual and legal reasons," but he still believes it's a market Cessna needs to service. "We'll get back in it," he said.

The Columbus program was cut earlier this year because of the economic downturn, and there was no indication at that time that there were any plans to resurrect it. The Columbus was announced with fanfare two years ago as a 4,000 nm intercontinental aircraft carrying up to 10 passengers at 0.8 Mach. It's an all-aluminum design powered by PW810 engines, fly-by-wire controls and a Rockwell Collins panel.