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NBAA: Textron revamps Longitude and introduces Hemisphere

Textron Aviation has unveiled a revamped Cessna Citation Longitude and all-new Citation Hemisphere, redoubling on a five-year-old ambition to conquer what it considers a vulnerable sector of the super midsize market segment.

The $30-35 million Hemisphere is designed to fly routes up to 4,500nm with 2.59m (102in)-diameter fuselage cross-section and several advanced technologies for Cessna, including an at least partially fly-by-wire flight control system.

“Instead of two planes in this space which we originally thought we would do, we’ve got the ability to put three planes into this space and really cover the different ranges that we feel are competitively priced and have brand new technology in all three of these markets,” says Textron Aviation chief executive Scott Ernest.

When the Hemisphere achieves first flight in late 2019, it will be the first all-new product introduced at that price point since the mid-1980s.

The Hemisphere now occupies the market role originally envisioned for the smaller Longitude, which shares the same fuselage cross-section as the Citation Latitude.

Instead, Textron is repositioning the Longitude with a top range limited to 3,400nm. That places the midsize product between the Latitude and the Hemisphere, while preserving US transcontinental and intercontinental range performance.

In a marketing coup, Cessna unveiled the relaunched Longitude by displaying a secretly-built, ground test article at the NBAA static display. First flight is on track for mid-2016 and deliveries should begin in the second half of 2017.

At the same time, the launch of the Hemisphere and the revamped Longitude reveal a new level of technological ambition at Wichita-based Cessna.

The Longitude itself now features a fly-by-wire rudder and electronically-controlled spoilers. Cessna intends to expand the fly-by-wire system to other additional control surfaces in the Hemisphere.

The Longitude also benefits from other innovations developed recently within Cessna. An example is a power transfer unit, which combines the functions of a hydraulic pump, motor and controller into a single device for the first time in a Cessna aircraft.

The redefinition of the Longitude means Cessna plans to switch engine suppliers. The Honeywell HTF7700L is now selected to power the aircraft, replacing the Snecma Silvercrest.

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