Pelton: Cessna to reveal transition turboprop in 'near future'

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Cessna will introduce "not immediately, but in the near future" a new single-engined turboprop that fill a product gap between the company's 235kt (435km/h) piston-powered 400 Corvalis TT and the 340kt Mustang twin-engined very light jet, says president Jack Pelton.

Pelton dropped hints about the new model, rumoured to look like a Mustang with a single turboprop engine at the front, on several occasions at the NBAA annual business aviation convention and exhibition in Atlanta in October. Cessna's current single-engined turboprop offering, the 12-passenger $2 million Caravan, has a maximum cruise speed of 186kt.

 
The new model is rumoured to look like a Mustang. Picture: Tim Bicheno-Brown/Flightglobal
"We're looking at price points in the $1-2.2 million range," Pelton told the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) at the NBAA, adding that the aircraft would have a top speed of "more than 300kt" as a goal and with "reasonable" altitude capability.

Although such capabilities sound similar to those of Daher-Socata's $3.3 million TBM 850, Pelton says Cessna "needs to be south of the Mustang in price" to differentiate the new aircraft.

The 2010 price for the Mustang is around $3 million. Pelton notes that the Mustang evolved from a geared twin-engine turboprop in the late 1990s.

A new turboprop is one of several upgrades or new models that Cessna parent company Textron says are on tap. "Clearly we have a number of new things in the pipeline, refreshes as well as clean-sheet aircraft," says Textron chief executive Scott Donnelly. The company plans to announce the products during industry shows over the next 18-24 months.

Donnelly expects Cessna to return to profitability in the fourth quarter, though he says a recovery in the light and midsize business jet market will take another six to nine months. Cessna had expected a quicker recovery based on a positive trend in orders earlier this year but the trend stalled in June and July, says Donnelly.

At the NBAA, Pelton suggested that Cessna would have returned to profitability in the third quarter had it not launched an upgraded version of the Citation X at the show.