LAS VEGAS - Textron did not announce any new aircraft models during its press conference ahead of the NBAA-BACE annual convention, but the plane manufacturer did roll out some upgraded models for a pair of its high-end jets.
Cessna expects to begin delivery next year on orders of its Citation XLS Gen2 and Citation M2 Gen2 models. Textron says the new features will improve comfort and efficiency for pilots and passengers on its light and midsized business jets.
The redesign to the M2 includes more legroom in the cockpit, as well as wireless charging for devices, more storage that can be accessed during flight from the cabin, new interior styling and lighting features that can be controlled with an app.
The XLS Gen2 also brings upgrades to its entryway, more lighting and a new interior look, along with a new pedestal seat design, along with a wireless cabin management system.
The news comes after the company announced back in February a Gen2 redesign for the Citation CJ4.Textron President and CEO Ron Draper declined to talk about any new aircraft that might be in the pipeline, saying that the Gen2 redesigns bring cutting-edge features to already-popular aircraft.
"These new models represent a significant commitment … as we continue to bring best-in-class performance and features," said Christi Tannahill, Textron's senior vice president of customer experience in a statement. "We listened to our customers."
Also, ahead of the official kickoff of the NBAA-BACE convention, the business aviation trade group expanded on its traditional luncheon, bringing in a "newsmakers" panel to weigh in on the current climate of the industry and what that could lead to in the coming years.
Wheels Up CEO Kenny Dichter, who took his company public last year, was the most optimistic about the duration of the current demand boom in private flying. He and Planesense CEO George Antoniadis spend much of the luncheon providing point-counterpoint on how long the current boom in private flight might last, while panelist Kem Ricci, Directional Aviation Capital founder, often interjected between the two.
While Dichter noted the leverage his company's deal with Delta gives in terms of access and flexibility in meeting the growing need for supply, Ricci wryly noted the bad decisions of major airlines during deregulation that led to many bankruptcies.
The panelists, who were moderated by CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien, agreed that consolidation would likely be needed to keep up with supply. However, Ricci and Dichter disagreed on issues such as whether a global jet-share business might operate on a spoke-and-wheel system, similar to a major airline.