Textron Confirms TTx Discontinued (Updated)

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Textron Aviation has now confirmed that it has discontinued the TTx, the often renamed high-performance single it acquired 10 years ago. The company removed the sporty and well-equipped aircraft from the product line on its website a week ago and confirmed the end of the program Wednesday. "At Textron Aviation, we continuously monitor the market as it fluctuates and adjust our product offerings accordingly," the company said in a statement. "Our strategy continues to focus on bringing new products to market and aligning business priorities with market demand. We remain dedicated to offering a modern product portfolio, ensuring our customers have access to the latest technology and supporting our existing customer base across all platforms." 

Cessna acquired the Columbia 400 program from Columbia Aircraft in 2007 as a foil for the rapidly expanding Cirrus Design. It renamed the aircraft the Cessna 400 and continued to build the aircraft in Bend, Oregon. In 2009, it closed the Bend plant but named the aircraft the Corvalis, after the neighboring town of Corvallis. The aircraft remained in limited production at Cessna’s Independence, Kansas, factory, but sales of the well-reviewed model have been weak. It sold 23 TTx models in 2017.

Comments (17)

I hope they don't decide to crush all the unsold models like they did the Skycatcher.

Posted by: John McNamee | February 21, 2018 11:46 AM    Report this comment

They won't because there aren't any unsold models. Van Bortel bought up the remaining new aircraft last November (9-10 planes) and quickly sold all but one.

Posted by: Carl Rossi | February 21, 2018 12:28 PM    Report this comment

Goes to show what will happen when the parent company really could care less about a product line. The whatever Cessna called it is probably a better airplane than the Cirrus but Cirrus marketed and supported the Cirrus like the company's future depended on it. Wait, it did. Now Cirrus has critical mass and is expanding into the personal jet.

I am waiting for the other shoe to drop at Textron, in that the Bonanza and Baron will probably be next. It looks as if Textron is preparing to support the Denali and 408 without adding much if any to head count.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | February 21, 2018 3:32 PM    Report this comment

Leo, it could be airplanes, it could be toasters.. it's all the same to these guys.

BTW, when do the Chinese step in here and save us, again?

Posted by: Ken Keen | February 21, 2018 3:50 PM    Report this comment

Very true Ken, then again we have a lot of toaster manufacturers out there. My bet is that Textron will just let it go away as they did with the Skycatcher.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | February 21, 2018 6:26 PM    Report this comment

Does the tiny light-GA market really NEED both the Cirrus SR-2x AND the Textron/Cessna Corvallis? I would argue "no." Does the market NEED new Mooneys? Again, "no." Too many players; too-thin margins; too much duplication; little that's unique. Light GA is its own worst enemy. If the industry is to survive, the flock must be culled. That's simple reality.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | February 21, 2018 8:29 PM    Report this comment

YARS, the market might not need two aircraft in that market, but why didn't the 400/Corvallis end up on top? It's an arguably superior plane on paper. Leo makes a point - would better support have led to the 400/Corvallis ending up being the survivor?

Posted by: Mike Zeeee | February 21, 2018 11:29 PM    Report this comment

The demise of the TTx is emblematic of deeper problems within GA. Sad to lose a good design but -- as I see it -- Yars is correct. In support of his premise, I looked up the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 and the Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013 to see what I'd see. Why hadn't they helped, I wondered.

I found a chart which -- in one picture -- shows everything you'd want to know about the state of GA in the US. It's an annual chart of airplane units produced vs net billings and average cost per airplane between 1946 and 2009 by GAMA. See: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/bd/US_Made_GenAvAirplanes_1946-2009_UnitsShipped_NetBillingsIn2009Dollars.png

Between 1946 -- an outlier year when 35K airplanes were produced (no wonder there are so many 1946 airplanes still around) -- and the peak of GA airplane unit production in 1978, there were only seven years when less than 5,000 airplanes were produced ... 1949 to 1955. There were only six years where more than 15K airplanes were produced... 1947, 1965 and 1976 to 1979. Everything changed suddenly around 1980. Unit production fell below 5K and has never recovered. Unit average cost climbed over $1M and has climbed precipitously until in 2009 it was nearly $6M. In the 30 year period 1979 to 2009, the average price per airplane in 2009 dollars rose ten fold. During the same period, the increase in factory net billings increased only about twofold. THAT's the key. Translated ... far more profit was being made on the high end machines than the 'puddle jumpers' we all enjoy. This isn't new news ... it's been discussed ad nauseum.

The delta between average GA unit cost and the low end machines is too high a hill to climb. Why should Textron build the TTx and try to sell them to average pilots like us in low volumes when they can build $6M+ airplanes for entities which fly them professionally and provide far more profit per unit. I don't know how many man-hours it takes to build a TTx vs the average bizjet but I'd bet that the difference isn't as large as one might think when profit is factored in? Now add on the liability exposure and ... "we've got a problem, Houston."

This explains why the E-AB movement is strong while the factory built SE GA airplane is rapidly going the way of the Dodo bird ... one by one. On the one hand, we could explain that as businesses doing what's best for their bottom line but I think they're making a mistake. Who's going to fly the things when all of us hang up our headsets. The airline pilot shortage shows that. Uh OH ... maybe Yars is right there too ... autonomous or pilotless airplanes?

Posted by: Larry Stencel | February 22, 2018 4:15 AM    Report this comment

"...but why didn't the 400/Corvallis end up on top? It's an arguably superior plane on paper."
Setting aside the observation that "if you ask 10 pilots which airplane is superior, you'll get at least 11 answers," the biggest factor in Cirrus' overwhealming success is this: they know - better thsn anyone else - how to identify, qualify, and convert prospects for $1 million personal aircraft.
My office is festuned with technology paraphernalia; aircraft artifacts are prominent among the collection. Above my desk, the display includes two photographs of the YF-23. Each mat includes the following inscription: "Superior technology does not always prevail."
I started learning that important lesson in the early 1970s. It's as true today as it was then. Engineers don't want to hear it, or to believe it. But. It. Is. True.
I defend anyone's right to build a better mousetrap; I've built my share. But the alteady-tiny-volume light-GA manufacturing industry is not well-served by spreading that tiny market across dozens of manufacturers that collectively offer a couple of hundred far-too-similar products.
Given the microscopic size of the market, the count of make/model aircraft SHOULD reflect a low-multiple representation of the also-limited count of the missions that light-GA aircraft routinely fly. But another hard-learned lesson is the vital difference between what could/should be, and what actually IS.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | February 22, 2018 7:58 AM    Report this comment

Yars, we now have only 2 engine suppliers. We all know how well that is working out for the community. In a regulated environment such as aviation, we do need strong competition among providers least we be stuck with $70K + engines that are not as reliable as the B&S in my lawn tractor.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | February 22, 2018 10:04 AM    Report this comment

Their marketing was terrible for such a good air frame (the oft mentioned multiple name changes were a disaster). More importantly, in my opinion, buyers who were looking at the TTx were not the same ones looking at a SR22, again due to differences in marketing. Cirrus is going for entry level pilots with lots of $ and the promise of safety of the built in parachute. Cessna marketed the TTx as a step up from their 1xx line. The reality is that a pilot moving up from a 182 or 206 with enough bankroll to fund a brand new $1 mil purchase was looking very hard at used single engine turboprops (I would do the same thing) as they represented a true jump in capability and reliability. Cessna rightfully identified the fact there isn't much room for a new aircraft in the market space between the top of the 100 series and the bottom of the used tp market (in terms of cost delta). I'm surprised it lasted this long (sadly).

Posted by: James Hayes | February 22, 2018 10:35 AM    Report this comment

Leo:

There are plenty of manufacturers out there, besides Lycoming and Continental. But the dizzying array of variations of any given engine is a BIG part of the problem. Is the availability of 100 different versions of the venerable O-320 a virtue or a flaw? I'd argue for the latter. What the industry has created is an MRP and materials-management nightmare. Ideal-lot-size-of-one, my ass.

I'd argue that we'd be far better served by a paradigm that served this logic:
1. How much power?
2. At what pressure altitude?
3, What kind of fuel(s)?
4. Reciprocating, turbine, or electric?
Done.

Two or three options (suppliers) for each combination should be sufficient.

Think about it... 100hp, 200hp, 300hp, and 400hp; normally-aspirated and turbo-normalized. Done.
Gasoline or diesel. Done.
All with hollow cranks to support traditional variable-pitch airscrews. Done.
FADEC to mind the store and permit intermediate-value flat-rating. Done.

Ibid with turbines... 1,000 lbs sea-level dry thrust; 2,000; 3,000; etc. Boeing offers enough business to justify having two or three manufacturers design brand-new engines to power proposed new airliners. Cirrus? Let's not be silly.

Frankly, it's the same dumb BS with avionics manufacturers. That industry needs to SIMPLIFY and to STANDARDIZE. They could do both, while offering increased value, reducing life-cycle costs, and being rewarded for true innovation.

Sometimes, watching geniuses do unbelievably dumb things makes my head want to explode.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | February 22, 2018 10:50 AM    Report this comment

The last big year of C 172 production was 1979. If you take the average sale price for that year and inflation adjust it to 2017 you get $ 148,000. Cessna list for a 2017 C 172 is 415,000.

I would suggest that if you could buy a new C 172 for less than 150 grand we would not be having this discussion.

There are many reasons why a C 172 now retails for close to half a million bucks. I don't see any way to get back to the days where a new airplane was within the reach of the average joe.

Certified GA aircraft manufacturing is now and will forever be, a specialty niche segment of high net worth individuals. Citrus figured that out, aggressively went after the market and now build more piston airplanes then all the other manufacturers put together

BTW the current aircraft type with the highest build rate is the Boing 737......

Posted by: DAVID GAGLIARDI | February 22, 2018 12:07 PM    Report this comment

With the greatest of hope and confidence for the future of GA, GA is toast!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | February 23, 2018 6:39 AM    Report this comment

Are hollow cranks a good idea ? Look at the AD's for 0-320 and 0-360 series .

Posted by: Clyde Suggs | February 25, 2018 11:05 AM    Report this comment

Are hollow cranks a good idea? Well, if you want to avail yourself of traditional controllable-pitch propellers, then... yes. The better implementations are the instances in which a hollow was integral to the original design of an engine. Hollowing-out a previously-optimized-as-solid design can be a path to dissatisfaction.
Electric props have their own issues. Little is "free" in engineering.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | February 25, 2018 3:18 PM    Report this comment

It really is a pity that the only major aircraft development aimed to be "NASA next generation GA aircraft" is now discontinued. Unfortunately marketing wasn't that good compared to the IBMstyle Cirrus (which is a much worse produced aircraft, but brilliant marketing with the chute).

I admit, the TTx had the wrong engine. If it would burn Jet-A1 and had a much shorter landing distance, it would have been a great game changer. What if somebody takes the design and improves it - such as Quest did the magnificent Kodiak? A Lance-Corvalis-TTx-XXX with Diesel engine and 1200ft landing distance ...

Posted by: Markus M. | February 26, 2018 4:46 AM    Report this comment

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