Cessna: The Big Get Bigger

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Cessna once again brought its machine-like product development to NBAA. The company is announcing two completely new jets, detailing significant upgrades to an existing one and tantalizing attendees with talk -- and a mockup -- of a to-be-determined large cabin concept aircraft. All of which, of course, follows last week's first (official) flight of the company's light sport offering and this summer's Oshkosh flyby of its next-generation piston single. Building on its wildly successful CJ series, Cessna this week said it would field the CJ4, an eight-passenger, Williams International FJ44-4A-powered bizjet supported by a moderately swept wing. First flight is expected in the first half of 2008, with service entry two years later.

Meanwhile, Cessna also debuted the Citation XLS+, further refining the original Citation Excel and its successor, the Citation XLS. This latest version includes a Collins Pro Line 21 panel with satellite-based XM weather, FADEC-controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545C engines and a host of interior and exterior refinements.

As if all that was not enough, Cessna also presented a mockup of what it "calls a large cabin concept Citation," shopping it around to potential customers to gauge the market for such a plane and to get their assistance in deciding some of its features. Said Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton of the large-cabin mockup, "We are here to get additional feedback from NBAA attendees, including what range and speed characteristics potential customers would prefer...if we were to move forward." They came to the right place.