By Liz Moscrop

Business jet manufacturer Cessna joined in the Paris orders frenzy yesterday as fractional ownership pioneer NetJets placed a $1 billion order with the Wichita company for 96 Citation jets.

The deal takes NetJets’ fleet of Citations to 400, making it by far Cessna’s biggest Citation customer.
The order covers three versions of the Citation family: 50 upgraded Encore+ models, 37 XLS+ and nine large Citation Xs. NetJets already 304 Citations under management, and continues to drive the business aviation market.

Chairman and CEO Richard Santulli and said that it had chosen the aircraft for their dispatch reliability and quality of service. He said: “Buying planes is the easy part. Our biggest concern is over operations. Our aircraft don’t do 400 hours per year; they do 1,000-1,100h per year and need strong maintenance. We can’t have an aircraft on the ground for three days, we need it turned as soon as possible.”

The first Encore+ will be delivered later this year, with XLS+ deliveries scheduled for 2008-10. This will not be a problem according to Cessna, which said it had built NetJets’ slots into its production schedule. Roger Whyte, Cessna’s senior vice president of sales and marketing said: “It’s a great day for us at Cessna. It is always a pleasure to work with NetJets.”

Last month NetJets ordered 32 Hawker 4000 aircraft from Hawker Beechcraft in a $700m deal, including a maintenance agreement.

Source: Flight Daily News