WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Cessna Longitude will begin selling this year. It just got certification.
“Longitude is an extremely big deal, and we are excited about this for our company and for our employees,” said Rob Scholl, Textron Aviation Senior VP for sales and marketing.
Scholl says it has a range of 3,500 nautical miles. It has advanced Wi-Fi to let passengers control music, shades in the plane and movies on the cabin screens.
But Scholl says the biggest selling point for the biggest and newest Cessna jet is how quiet it is inside.
“You can have a conversation from front to back,” said Scholl. “If we can get people to ride in the plane, it sells itself.”
Selling the plane is a big deal for the Wichita economy. Analysts say Wichita could use some good news in the business jet segment.
“This is far and away the biggest and most ambitious jet that Textron-Cessna has yet attempted. And it looks like a good design. It’s been a long road coming,” said senior aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia with the Teal Aviation Group.
Aboulafia says the so-called lower tier of the business jet segment has struggled since 2008. But he says the larger plane for Cessna will position the company very well going forward.
“This is very definitely a decent play for them. Obviously, there is risk and a big commitment to resources that’s been required,” said Aboulafia. “But I think it has been quite worthwhile. Absolutely essential. “
Scholl gave KSN a tour of the plane on Wednesday and showed off the cabin. He pointed to features like a couch, kitchen area and “high-end” 180-degree swivel chairs that can turn into sleepers when linked together.
Scholl says a big play to gain sales is also the pilot experience. Pilots have said they like the tech with a clean cockpit and available heads-up display to go along with auto throttle to manage speed all the way to touchdown.
“You’re selling it to the pilots up front. Because they generally need to be on board,” said Scholl. “And you’re selling it to the people in the back. Both of them appreciate the efficiency. The cost efficiency of operating this airplane, it’s the lowest in its class.”
Aboulafia also says Cessna may have a winner on its hands because this will be an intercontinental plane with the flight range. The Cessna Longitude is already selling in the U.S. with an order for up to 175 of the planes.
“Again, the key is to get them to fly in the plane,” said Scholl. “That is 90-percent of the sales job with this plane. It is absolutely quiet.”
Cessna will also look for sales in Europe, Asia Pacific and in Latin America.
“Longitude represents a great effort to break out,” says Aboulafia. “This plane just may do it for them.”
Scholl says the plane also represents a lot of stability for the Wichita economy.
“This will be build on our east, Beech Field campus,” said Scholl. “It’s a brand new, clean sheet product that we will be able to bring to the marketplace, which you are not seeing a lot of that right now. “
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