Cessna to build business jets in China

Cessna Aircraft Co. has signed agreements with Chinese partners to manufacture business jets in China and explore other aviation opportunities.

The company announced today it is joining with state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) and the municipal government of Chengdu. The three hope to form a joint venture in the western China city to produce midsize Cessna business jets and possibly new models in the future. China is seen as the most promising major market for the industry.

Scott Donnelly, chief executive officer of Textron Inc. — Cessna’s parent company — said he expected significant growth in China’s aviation market because of the country’s growing economy and diverse geography. The company has been talking with Chinese officials since last summer about collaborating on a business jet.

So far, China’s private jet market has been dominated by Bombardier and Gulfstream, which make larger jets than Cessna’s small and medium-sized aircraft. Cessna officials said today said there are about 200 Cessna aircraft in China.

Donnelly declined to comment on Cessna’s projections for the Chinese market, only saying he expected "very, very robust" growth.

Cessna’s light sport aircraft, the two-seat Skycatcher, is built in China by Shenyang Aviation Industry Corp.

The signing between AVIC and Cessna comes two days after Bombardier signed an agreement with state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China to collaborate on common parts for their aircraft.

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