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Textron Aviation: Displaying Depth in General Aviation
By James Wynbrandt
July 20, 2015 - Textron Aviation, parent company of Cessna and Beechcraft, is showcasing an impressive lineup of its piston, turboprop, and jet aircraft here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Led by the North American debut of its pro line fusion-equipped Beechcraft King Air 250, the aircraft include Cessna's Citation CJ3+ and Citation M2 light jets, the Grand Caravan EX utility turboprop single, and the high-performance TTx piston single.
The King Air 250’s pro line fusion flight deck features three 14-inch, cursor-controlled displays, as well as cabin improvements to enhance the passenger experience. The “personal device-centric cabin,” as Textron calls it, includes international or domestic Wi-Fi as standard and window shades that electronically dim with the touch of a button.
“EAA AirVenture is a great venue for attendees to experience firsthand the investments we are making in this proven platform,” said Textron Senior Vice President Christi Tannahill, but she could have been referring to any or all of the Textron aircraft on display (Booth 78-82 and 100-123).
The all-composite Cessna TTx, for example, is designed for comfort, speed, and luxury, and features advanced carbon fiber construction and touchscreen Garmin G2000 avionics. The four-place single also incorporates a FIKI (flight into known ice) system and twin-turbocharged power, delivering a max cruise speed of 235 knots and a range of 1,250 nm at economy cruise speeds.
Meanwhile, Textron Aviation’s legacy models remain in high demand, as the King Air 250 upgrade underscores. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Cessna Caravan turboprop and the company announced here the sale of 20 Grand Caravan EX amphibians to China’s Zhoushan AVIC Joy Air General Air Co., Ltd.
The Grand Caravan EXs, equipped with Wipaire’s Wipline 8750 floats, will be delivered from the Cessna-AVIC Aircraft (Shijiazhuang) Co., Ltd. Formed in 2013, Cessna-AVIC Aircraft is a joint venture between Cessna and China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. (CAIGA), which conducts final assembly of Caravans for the Chinese market. Deliveries are expected to commence this year.
Joy Air Holdings already owns two Grand Caravan EX amphibs. The new aircraft will be used for commuter flights between coastal areas, as well as air tours and charter operations.
In another display of growing demand for proven aircraft, Textron is also showcasing here a Cessna Skylane 182T, a model the company recently returned to production with first deliveries scheduled for this quarter. Earlier this year the Civil Air Patrol, Cessna’s largest single-engine piston customer, ordered 17 Skylanes.
Last year at AirVenture, Cessna announced the venture premium interior for the 206 Stationair, providing a choice of five different cabin seating configurations for the six-place piston single. This year attendees can see the fruition of the program, as the Turbo Stationair on display sports a venture premium interior.
More upgrades for the Textron line are ahead. Textron announced it’s switching to McCauley Propeller Systems’s products for several of its turboprop and piston-engine aircraft. McCauley’s new swept scimitar Blackmac series four-blade aluminum propeller will soon come standard on Cessna’s Grand Caravan EX aircraft.
The Beechcraft Baron twin will get the new McCauley C512 aluminum propellers as standard beginning later this quarter. Ten pounds lighter than the current installation, the new props will immediately add 20 lbs. to the Baron’s useful load.
Also later this quarter, Cessna TTx customers will have the option of equipping their aircraft with the McCauley Blackmac Carbon Series constant speed composite propeller, which will boost useful load approximately 35 pounds, while providing greater resistance to impact and blade erosion.
Meanwhile, Beechcraft will certify the pro line fusion panel for the King Air 350iER in quarter four this year, and for the King Air C90GTx in the first half of 2016.
Textron is also highlighting its Top Hawk program for educational institutions, which provides partner schools full use of a branded Cessna Skyhawk 172 aircraft for a year for flight training, recruiting, and promotional activities. Top Hawk Cessna Skyhawks from Kansas State University and the University of North Dakota are on display here, and one student from each school is participating in Textron Aviation’s internship program in cooperation with the Textron Aviation Employees’ Flying Club. Other Top Hawk partner schools this year include Liberty University and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.