Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

The continued buoyancy of the single-engined aircraft market in the USA has prompted Cessna to consider resurrecting the retractable gear (RG) variant of its four-seat 182 Skylane after a 13-year moratorium.

"We are not overly anxious to introduce new models, but the market is strong, and it looks set to continue. Any manufacturer would be foolish not to ask itself what to look at next, and there seems to be a niche in the market for a fast, light single," says Cessna.

According to Wichita, Kansas-based Cessna, more than 1,650 Skylane RGs were built between 1978 and 1986 in four variants. The high costs associated with product liability in the USA, however, forced Cessna to halt production of its entire single-engine line in 1986.

Since the law was reformed in 1994, Cessna has re-introduced the 172 Skyhawk, 182 Skylane and 206 Stationair. Last year, the company delivered 775 singles, and around 900 aircraft are expected to be handed over by the end of this year.

"Cessna has a 65% market share of the single-engined piston market, which we hope to increase. Over the next seven years we predict annual sales will rise between 5% and 10%," it adds.

The company says there has been a "renaissance" in general aviation boosted by economic prosperity, more finance packages and advances in technology.

Cessna also does not rule out producing a twin-engine light aircraft, saying: "The company has a vision that would encompass producing a family of aircraft from the 172 to the [entry level] CitationJet business aircraft and there is a gap for a light twin."

The company also confirms that AlliedSignal will continue to provide avionics for its singles. Cessna reviewed AlliedSignal's sole-source avionics contract this year (Flight International, 2-8 June). "We have no plans to change our arrangement at this stage, but to keep at the forefront of this rapidly moving market, we have to keep our suppliers on their toes," Cessna says.

Source: Flight International