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Tue, Sep 25, 2007

NBAA 2007: Cessna's Future Bizjet Programs Proceeding

LCC Decision Expected Soon; Citation XLS+, CJ4 Move Towards Cert

Cessna is nothing if not cautious in its development of new products. Nearly one year after the planemaker announced at NBAA 2006 it planned to explore the large business jet market with its large-cabin concept (LCC), Cessna told NBAA 2007 attendees Monday that, well, they're still considering it.

"After unveiling the concept at last year's National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) event, we took the mockup to the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition and the Paris Air Show to get opinions from a diverse sample of potential customers for a large-cabin, long-range business jet," said Joe Hepburn, program manager for the LCC. "This seems like a logical extension of the Citation family, but we are being comprehensive in examining the business case for adding this aircraft to our product line."

Cessna's goal is to announce a decision on the LCC in the first quarter of 2008. A full scale LCC mock-up is on display at NBAA 2007.

Wind tunnel testing is now progressing to investigate range, speed and stability characteristics of the large cabin aircraft configuration. In the fourth quarter, the company will conduct tests in Bedford, England to determine high speed characteristics and in San Diego, CA to examine low speed handling qualities and high lift systems.

Cessna also announced Monday its two newest Citation business jets -- the CJ4 and XLS+ -- are moving "efficiently" through the development process toward certification.

The CJ4 -- a larger, longer-range version of the evergreen CJ line -- has finished more than 75 percent of the detail design stage, including recent completion of a full wing for fuel testing.

The new Williams International FJ44-4A electronically controlled (FADEC) engine, which will debut on the CJ4, continues flying on Cessna's test bed airplane. A second engine has accumulated 3,000 equivalent flight cycles in accelerated testing, and a third engine recently passed induction system icing certification tests.

The CJ4 is on schedule for first flight during the first half of 2008, with entry into service planned for the first half of 2010. Cessna already has taken 130 orders for the new $8 million jet.

The XLS+ -- an upgrade to the mid-size Excel/XLS -- completed its maiden flight on August 2, 2007. Cessna will start line flow for the first production aircraft within the next few weeks; two test aircraft have accumulated more than 245 flight hours and continue to work toward achieving FAA certification in the first quarter of 2008.

Cessna says first delivery will occur by the end of 2008. The order book has reached 123, including the order announced at the June 2007 Paris Air Show of 37 for NetJets' fractional aircraft fleet.



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