By Karen Di Piazza
Cessna Aircraft Company’s Citation XLS+, configured to carry eight passengers, made its first flight in early August. The flight, lasting one hour and 30 minutes, took place at Rockwell Collins’ facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The jet is now back home at Wichita, Kan.-based Cessna, where it continues further testing in the company’s development program.
“The Citation XLS+ is an upgrade from the XLS—the world’s best-selling business jet model,” declared Jack Pelton, Cessna chairman, president and CEO.
Priced at $11.595 million, the XLS+ is an XLS on steroids; Pelton says it has a redesigned fuselage and a stand-up interior cabin. The interior of the restyled XLS+ is exactly the same cabin height and width as the Citation X; its seats are two inches wider than those in the XLS. The seats recline 50 degrees, swivel 180 degrees and track forward, aft and laterally.
“We’ve added the new Collins Pro Line 21 avionics and Pratt & Whitney’s FADEC (full authority digital engine control) equipped engines,” Pelton said.
Designed to travel at 440 knots true air speed, the XLS+ is said to have more than an 1,800-natical-mile range and can climb to 45,000 feet in 29 minutes. The aircraft is designed to land on runways as short as 2,700 feet.
“We anticipate certification on the XLS+ in 2008,” Pelton said.
Cessna said first deliveries on the XLS+ are due by mid-2008, and that if someone places an order now, they can expect delivery in 2010. The company verified a robust order book but declined to say how many orders have been received or what the order book is worth so far.
During the first two days of EAA AirVenture 2007, Cessna received 400 orders for its new Model 162 SkyCatcher. Cessna confirmed on Aug. 10 that the company has reached $75 million in orders for the light sport aircraft, which has an introductory price of $109,500. Doug Oliver, director of corporate communications, said 720 customers have paid a deposit of $5,000.
“Originally Cessna was asking for a deposit amount of $10,000 on the 162, but during AirVenture the amount was cut in half,” Oliver said. “Cessna has decided it will extend the deposit amount of $5,000 through 2007.”
Oliver said the Model 162 SkyCatcher would have an option for a parachute recovery system.
“We haven’t decided on any particular brand,” he said.
The SkyCatcher is a two-seat, aluminum-made aircraft featuring a composite two-blade prop. Powered by a Teledyne Continental O-200D 100-hp engine, the aircraft features Garmin G300 avionics, gull-wing doors and adjustable rudder pedals.
The aircraft is perfectly suited for flight training, which should make it less expensive for those who want to learn how to fly.
“It’s been very exciting to see the overwhelmingly positive response from our customers on the SkyCatcher,” Pelton said. “This affirmative reaction reflects the overall continuing strength in the general aviation market around the globe.”
The aircraft’s service ceiling is expected to be 15,550 feet. Preliminary specifications also include a 1,320-pound maximum takeoff weight and a maximum 470-natical-mile range. The aircraft will be certified for day/night visual flight rules. Certification is forecast by year-end 2008, with deliveries by mid-2009. Cessna plans to have a conforming 162 prototype flying by next summer.
Cessna has an interesting website on the SkyCatcher, which provides more details about the aircraft, but also allows people to post comments—or blog. Several postings suggest that the 162 is priced too high; Pelton initially said he hoped to keep the plane priced at around $100,000. Some people questioned Cessna’s decision to incorporate an all-glass cockpit, citing it put the aircraft’s price just out of their reach. But Cessna’s 720 orders speak for how most people feel about the new plane.
As for the aircraft’s glass cockpit, most in the aviation industry have the opinion that learning how to fly using advanced avionics is the only way to go; today’s aircraft have glass panels. Cessna spent a year going over feedback from potential customers prior to its July 10 announcement that it planned to produce the SkyCatcher.
For more information, visit [http://www.cessna.com].