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Textron showcases flush line-up of in-development jets and props

Textron Aviation has no shortage of products to highlight at this year's EBACE, including its flagship Cessna Citation Latitude and a rich development pipeline.

"2018 was a great year – probably the best year in over a decade for Textron Aviation," says Textron senior vice-president of sales and marketing Rob Scholl.

Textron delivered 188 Citations and 186 turboprops in 2017, up from 180 Citations and 155 turboprops in 2017. Last year's revenue jumped 10% to $3.4 billion, while profits surged 47% year on year to $445 million.

"2019 is off to the same start," Scholl adds. "We are very happy with where we are, and a lot of that is coming from the continued investment in products and services."

Textron is also expanding its services' reach, announcing plans to double the size of its European distribution centre in Dusseldorf.

Aircraft on the airframer's static display include a Beechcraft King Air 350i, Grand Caravan EX, entry-level Citation M2 jet, Citation CJ3+ light jet, Citation XLS+ , midsize Citation Latitude and super-midsize Citation Longitude.

A medevac-configured Latitude, as well as a and Bell 429 and 505 will also be on display.

The 2,700nm (5,000km)-range, nine-passenger Latitude is Textron's newest model, but the Honeywell HTF7700L-powered Longitude will become the flagship model once it enters service.

"We are in the final paperwork stages of certification," says Scholl of the 12-passenger, 3,500nm-range Longitude.

Textron had hoped the Longitude would have already entered service, but the process has been delayed.

"It’s just taken longer than we anticipated," says Scholl, although he declines to say why. "We have been a little over optimistic in how quickly we had thought we could get it."

Many questions surround the in-development Hemisphere, a 12-passenger, 4,500nm-range jet powered by Safran Aircraft Engines Silvercrest powerplants – the engine that led Dassault to cancel its Falcon 5X programme.

Textron is awaiting results of planned tests this summer by Safran of the Silvercrest with a redesigned compressor.

"We anticipate that Safran will do redesigned engine tests, probably this summer, and the Hemisphere programme is tied very closely to the outcome of the test results," says Scholl.

Textron has high hopes for the single-engined Denali and the twin-engined SkyCourier.

GE Aviation has logged some 1,000h of running time on the Denali's GE Aviation Catalyst engine. Textron expects to conduct the type's first flight this year, followed by certification about 18 months later.

The airframer has nearly completed construction of the prototype Denali, two flight-test aircraft and three ground-test articles.

The Denali's engine and full-authority digital engine control will make the aircraft 15% more efficient than competitors, says the airframer. The 8- to 11-passenger type will come with an optional aft lavatory or large cargo door.

Textron also expects the SkyCourier to fly this year and be certificated within 12-18 months.

Textron is assembling a SkyCourier prototype and five flight- and ground-test vehicles, while the aircraft's McCauley Propeller Systems props have undergone nearly 110h of tests. Assembly of the fuel system and landing-gear test articles has started; testing of both systems will begin this month, says Textron.

With twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC engines, SkyCourier will have capacity for 6,000lb (2,720kg) of cargo or 19 passengers. Textron is selling a combi variant capable of carrying both cargo and nine passengers.

FedEx has ordered up to 100 SkyCouriers.

"It's built to be a rugged, reliable, simple-to-operate aircraft," says Scholl. "It’s amazing the variety of customers I talk to."

Other show news includes an announcement from Collins Aerospace that European regulators have approved its Pro Line Fusion avionics suite in Textron's CJ3. The system includes synthetic vision, electronic charts and several technologies that interface with next-generation airspace control systems.

Find all the latest news, pictures, video and analysis from EBACE 2019 on our dedicated page.

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