Textron Shifts Focus On Cessna Pilot Centers

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Textron is in the process of restructuring its Cessna Pilot Center (CPC) network, including cutting back on the number of CPCs and putting more focus on its Cessna Flight Training System digital interactive flight-training curriculum. “As a part of a new strategy to expand the reach of the Cessna curriculum to student pilots,” Textron told AVweb, “the network of CPCs is transitioning to an exclusive group of flight schools that meet heightened qualifications.”

Until recently, the Cessna Flight Training System has only been available to students at Cessna Pilot Centers. “This shift enables us to expand accessibility to the curriculum beyond the CPC network. Flight schools outside of the network may purchase the curriculum for their student pilot training programs. Other CPC benefits remain exclusive to the network,” the company said. CPC benefits also include credits toward aircraft purchases, parts discounts and free admission to instructional seminars.

In order to implement its new CPC system, Textron is ending partnerships with quite a few of its more than 160 CPCs. Several flight schools that will no longer be participating in the program, including one that has been a CPC since 1998, told AVweb that given the expense of new aircraft and parts, they are now having to look into options offered by other manufacturers. In addition, one school pointed out, they will be unable to use any CPC-branded materials, signs or advertisements they may have had for the school. The number of schools that will continue as CPCs has not yet been confirmed.

Current CPCs have expressed excitement about the direction of the program, particularly when it comes to the digital interactive flight-training curriculum. “The prior focus appeared to be on the marketing of the Cessna name, but that focus has since progressed to an excellent product that allows students to study on their own time, allowing the time spent with the instructor to be a reinforcement of topics,” said Aaron Repp, chief flight instructor of CPC Jet Air Inc., which has facilities in Iowa and Illinois.

The shift in how it handles CPCs is the latest in a series of changes to Cessna’s approach to its piston aircraft. Textron announced earlier in May that it will stop producing the diesel Skyhawk JT-A. The announcement came less than a year after the aircraft was certified. The TTx high-performance single met the same fate in February. According to GAMA, Cessna sold 129 Skyhawks last year, which, although historically on the low end, still kept it as a top seller of training aircraft ahead of everyone except for Cirrus. So far in 2018, the company has sold just 13 Skyhawks compared to 20 in the first quarter of 2017.

Comments (4)

Non factor.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 26, 2018 10:37 AM    Report this comment

I submit that the statement, "the company has sold just 13 Skyhawks" mischaracterized the situation. It would be more accurate to say that Cessna has abandoned the low end piston market in favor higher end piston and turboprop airplanes. Cessna could sell significantly more Skyhawks if they were to increase production and price the airplane more reasonably. There are many flight schools across the country who are in dire need of new Cessna 172s for training and are turning away students because of it. Cessna's decision may come back to bite them when the number of new pilots wanting to move up to bigger and faster airplanes drops off.

Posted by: Gregory Hobbs | May 27, 2018 5:46 PM    Report this comment

If they truly wanted to own the flight training market they would restart the 152 II product line as well as the basic 172. The prices are beyond stupid. Go back to the basic instruments one nav/com and transponder. The market is screaming for AFFORDABLE airplanes.

Posted by: Mike Crognale | May 30, 2018 3:27 PM    Report this comment

I agree with what Textron is doing with the CPC program. The CPC team is working very hard to continue to provide a system that is backed by the Textron name. This requires flight schools that are going to fly the Textron Cessna Pilot Center flag to adhere to strict performance, equipment purchase requirements, fleet modernization investments, rigid training curriculums, and a dedicated staff of instructors focused on teaching students using a program expertly developed by King and Cessna. There are too many CPC flight schools that just are not performing and do not match or mirror the "Cessna Way" of teaching and evolving the next generation of pilots.

I support Cessna's renewed efforts to streamline and make entry and continued admission in the CPC program difficult and only for those schools dedicated to making the investment in new aircraft, and completely following the CPC program. We at AV-ED in the Washington DC metro have invested heavily in the past six months in new aircraft from Cessna for our CPC schools and it is a night and day difference in the quality of training and the safety and reliability of our training fleet.

Roland Pinto
CEO
AV-ED Flight School
Meiya Group Global Corporation

Posted by: Roland Pinto | May 30, 2018 11:57 PM    Report this comment

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