Cessna acquired a company – Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Company – with the intent of continuing production of its two high-performance, composite single-engine piston aircraft. On Dec. 5, the Columbia products were branded the Cessna 350 and the Cessna 400, and approximately 400 employees at the Bend, Ore., manufacturing facility became Cessna employees.
The other leading storyline of 2007 occurred in July, when Cessna entered the light sport aircraft market by launching the Model 162 SkyCatcher at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture. Cessna is designing the aircraft and will handle ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) compliance work, while Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) will assemble the mostly U.S.-produced components. Cessna also will provide on-site personnel in Shenyang, China, to oversee manufacturing, quality assurance and technical design. By the end of 2007, more than 900 firm SkyCatcher orders had been recorded.
The success of the Citation Mustang program continued at the Independence, Kan., facility with the first retail delivery to Dave and Dawn Goode of GOODE Ski Technologies in April. EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) certification was achieved in May, making the Mustang the first new-generation entry level business jet to be certified in Europe. The first EASA-certified Mustang was delivered to Danish entrepreneur Jorgen Andersen on Nov. 6. This was the second Citation Mustang delivered to a European customer following the delivery of a U.S. registered aircraft to Jane Howell in September.
Cessna delivered the first Citation Encore+ to an undisclosed customer at the end of April. Certified by the FAA in December 2006, Encore+ offers Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) equipped engines, increased payload capability, a new integrated avionics suite, more standard equipment and new interior styling features.
Among the milestones reached during its 80th anniversary year, Cessna delivered the 5,000th Citation business jet and the 1,000th CJ, as well as the 8,000th single-engine aircraft from the Independence facility. The Citation fleet passed 20 million flight hours, and the Caravan reached 10 million flight hours.