ATLANTA — Throughout the downturn in the aviation industry, Cessna Aircraft officials have continued to say the company was investing in new products to prepare for the eventual recovery.
On Monday, Cessna announced the first of those products.
The company will build a larger, advanced version of its Citation X business jet, called the Citation Ten. Cessna CEO Jack Pelton made the announcement at a news conference at the Georgia World Congress Conference Center in Atlanta, the day before the 63rd annual National Business Aviation Association convention opens.
"We are investing a significant amount... into new products," Pelton said.
In fact, 6 percent of the company's revenue is going to research and development, he said.
The jet is a testament to Cessna's commitment to new product development, despite the deep economic downturn, Pelton said, and a signal that Cessna plans to do what it takes to maintain a leadership position in general aviation, he said.
Since the downturn began in late 2008, Cessna has cut 8,000 jobs.
The company planned to host an event to showcase the plane for customers at its static display at the DeKalb Peachtree Airport. Cessna will unveil a mock-up of the plane's cabin to the media and to NBAA attendees this afternoon.
The jet's first flight is expected in late 2011, with certification and first delivery in 2013. New Rolls Royce engines are expected to be certified ahead of the aircraft's type certification by the FAA.
So far, the company has not taken orders for the $21.5 million jet.
Because the plane will incorporate the latest in technology, "we thought the ancient Roman numeral was not perhaps so applicable at this time," Cessna's Roger Whyte said, explaining why the company is changing the spelling of the Citation X to the Citation Ten.
The aircraft will feature an all-new Garmin G5000 avionics suite, advanced cabin management system and more powerful and more efficient engines, the company said.
The Citation Ten's fuselage will be 15 inches longer than the previous model for a roomier cabin and will incorporate winglets for better speed and performance, Whyte said. It will also have a longer range and faster rate-of-climb speed than the previous model.
Pilots will have three primary and multifunction displays and four touch-screen control panels. They will include synthetic vision technology, electronic charts, safe taxi software, weather radar, terrain awareness and warning system. It will be ready for the FAA's change to a satellite-based air traffic control system.
The company will continue to build the current Citation X until the switch to the upgraded model.