Cessna parent Textron Aviation dropped a hint at NBAA this morning that its longest-range jet now in development may not be quite long enough.

Launched at EBACE in 2012, the Longitude was due to enter service in 2017, but Textron Aviation is no longer is willing to re-affirm that original schedule.

Textron Aviation chief executive Scott Ernest now says the Longitude might be getting a second look. “I would say everything is possible,” Ernest says.

The Longitude and the smaller Cessna Latitude were launched two years after the company cancelled the Columbus jet with a similar 4,000nm (7,400km) range in 2010.

However, the Longitude's interior differs substantially from its cancelled predecessor, with a fuselage 2.13m (7ft) shorter and 15cm (6in) narrower than the Columbus.

There have been growing hints that Textron Aviation is rethinking the original Longitude design and the development schedule. In interviews in September, Textron officials hinted that delivery of the first aircraft could even be accelerated.

Ernest’s comments stopped short of confirming the speculation, but opened the door to further inquiry about the status of the programme.

“I’ve got 1,700 engineers and they need to stay busy,” Ernest says. “We’ve got basically the Latitude left to certify right now and that doesn’t require all of them. So we’ve got several projects in work right now.”

A Longitude redesign could carry wider implications for the supply chain. Cessna selected the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW810 engines to power the Columbus, but switched to the Snecma Silvercrest engine on the Longitude.

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Source: Flight Daily News