Textron Aviation comes to EBACE with three new Beechcraft and Cessna Citation variants to showcase as well as plans to build on its customer support on the continent. After EBACE’s two-year hiatus because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the OEM now has an opportunity to display its upgraded King Air 360 twin-turboprop, which was announced in August 2020 and type certified two months later.
Also scheduled for a first appearance in Geneva are the Citation CJ4 Gen2 and the XLS Gen2 twinjets. In February 2021, Textron unveiled the CJ4 Gen2, which received current interior certification under its Model 525C FAA type certificate. And the XLS Gen2 was introduced in October at NBAA-BACE, followed by FAA certification earlier this month.
In addition to debuting three turbine aircraft, the Wichita, Kansas-based airframer (Booth U17, Static AD_6) has dedicated 4,000 sq ft of space to expand its parts inventory, Textron Aviation senior v-p of sales and flight operations Lannie O’Bannion told AIN. The company is also adding a mobile service unit based in Madrid.
Europe is an important region for the company. Last year, 38 percent of turbine aircraft delivered on the continent—Citations, Cessna Caravans, and King Airs—came from Textron Aviation, O’Bannion said. He added that its installed base in Europe includes more than 1,000 jets and 700 turboprops.
It has been several years since the OEM has come to EBACE with a large backlog, which at the end of the first quarter exceeded $5 billion. “That’s allowing stability of production, stability in pricing, opportunities for customers to plan replacements, and [a chance to] pace the supply chain and hiring needs according to the market,” Textron Aviation president and CEO Ron Draper told AIN.
At least in the near term, Draper is bullish on his company’s prospects. “Customers are flying more than they ever have before in recent times,” Draper explained. “We continue to see the market growing…in all segments and we’re seeing people coming into the market from fractionals and charters to whole aircraft ownership.”
With the production of the Cessna SkyCourier utility twin-turboprop underway following its first delivery this month to launch customer FedEx, the company is turning its focus to the Beechcraft Denali turboprop single. Draper said the prototype Denali is approaching 200 hours of flight testing while a second test aircraft is completing engine ground runs with the first flight expected “in a month or so.”