Cessna's popular Citation X+
Cessna's popular Citation X+

Cessna

What It Is: Officially, our first “company of the week” is not a company, though it was one for close to a century and is likely still thought of as a company by most of its customers. Cessna is now a brand employed by Textron Aviation for a product line that ranges from Citation business jets to Caravan turboprops and single-engine piston airplanes. 

How It Grew: When it was established as the Cessna-Roos Company in 1927, cofounder Clyde Cessna had already launched several failed aircraft manufacturing ventures (in partnership with fellow aviation pioneers Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman, among others). The business began to achieve success only after nephews Dwane and Dwight Wallace bought out Clyde in 1935.

Cessna’s first business jet, the Citation I (Cessna 500), created to compete with the Learjet, first flew 50 years ago, in 1969. A decade later, Citations were the world’s bestselling business jets. In the 1980s, under CEO Russell Meyer, Cessna pioneered aircraft leasing and fleet sales. In 1985 General Dynamics bought Cessna, which it then sold to current owner Textron in 1992. (General Dynamics bought Gulfstream Aerospace in 1999.) Cessna became a Textron Aviation brand in 2014. (Beechcraft also became a Textron brand that year, and Bell, formerly Bell Helicopter, is now part of Textron, as well.)

What It Offers: Cessna currently sells seven models, ranging from the small-cabin Citation M2 to the soon-to-be-certified super-midsize Citation Longitude, scheduled to enter service this year. The company’s first large-cabin jet, the Citation Hemisphere, is in a holding pattern while issues with the Snecma Silvercrest engines chosen to power the aircraft are addressed. The single-engine Denali and twin-engine SkyCourier turboprops are slated for their first flights this year.

Notable Achievements: Since they entered service in 1973 more than 7,000 Citations have been produced. The Citation X/X+, which ended production last year, held the distinction of being the world’s fastest civilian production aircraft.

Quote: “We’re much more vertically integrated than our competitors.” —Scott Ernest, recently departed president and CEO

Recent news: At the National Business Aviation Association’s annual conference last October, NetJets placed orders for up to 150 Hemispheres ($35 million each) and 175 Longitudes ($26 million each). Ron Draper, a West Point grad and former helicopter pilot, was named president and CEO that same month. 

Cessna Citation Longitude

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Cessna Citation Longitude

The key to the Longitude’s success is technology that cuts costs and makes sense for customers.

FAST FACTS

Founded: 1927

HQ: Wichita, Kansas

Employees: About 9,000

Annual revenue (2017): $4.686 billion (includes Beechcraft)

Website: cessna.txtav.com

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