Top executives of Cessna Aircraft said the company was prepared to invest $ 780 million in developing the Citation 850 Columbus, the Wichita, Kan.-planemaker´s first super-midsize jet. Deliveries of the aircraft, which will be priced at $ 27 million, are to begin in 2014.
"We´re going to boldly venture into a new market and do something very different. This will be Cessna´s greatest achievement. It will be our most advanced, largest cabin and longest-range aircraft. It also will be one of the most fuel efficient. We can do this because of our financial results," said Jack Pelton, Cessna´s chairman, president and CEO, making reference to the firm´s $ 5-billion 2007 sales revenues. Pelton and other company executives made their remarks yesterday at a Washington press conference. Cessna announced the program on Jan. 24.
Pelton quite clearly is piloting Cessna in a new direction. For more than two decades, Cessna steered clear of most direct competitors by concentrating on light and mid-size jets. While he believes in this strategy, Pelton is also concerned that many of mid-size Citation operators have left the Cessna family for larger, longer range aircraft built by competitors. Columbus is intended to help stem that exodus.
Columbus indeed will be large. Cessna will develop a clean-sheet 7.3 ft.. diameter fuselage for Columbus. The cabin will be 6.9 ft. wide, 6.1 ft. high and 32.6 ft. long, providing nearly double the interior volume of Citation X, Cessna´s current flagship. Columbus will have the most seated headroom and legroom of any aircraft in its class, Cessna officials claim. It also will have a flat floor and in-flight access to the baggage compartment, similar to other super-midsize and large cabin business jets.
It will be powered by two 8,830 lbf.. Pratt & Whitney Canada PW810 turbofans, a new all-axial flow engine that will share its core with the geared turbofan being developed for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet by Pratt & Whitney US.