Business Aviation Interviews

An interview with Textron Aviation

An interview with Textron Aviation
Mike Shih
Mike Shih
VP of China Strategy and Sales Textron Aviation

How was 2021 for Textron Aviation?

There was a lot of positive news for Textron Aviation in 2021. We announced the new M2 Gen2 and XLS Gen2 jets and welcomed the CJ4 Gen2 to the lineup. We also announced the 75th-anniversary special edition Beechcraft Bonanza G36. And we continued our place as a leader in the industry.

According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Textron Aviation led the industry in 2021 in the following deliveries:

  • Multi-Engine Business Turboprop (Beechcraft King Air 260 and King Air 360)
  • Utility Turboprop (Cessna Caravan 675 and Grand Caravan EX)
  • Single Pilot Jet (Cessna Citation M2, Citation CJ3+ and Citation CJ4 Gen2)
  • Midsize Jet (Cessna Citation Latitude and Citation XLS+)

At the end of 2021, the new single-engine turboprop Beechcraft Denali took its successful first flight. It was a major milestone for this clean-sheet design aircraft.

Will 2022 also be a great year for Textron Aviation?

So far in 2022 we celebrated the delivery of our 8,000th Cessna Citation, which was a Citation Longitude that joined the Scotts Miracle-Gro fleet of Citations.

We also celebrated the first production rollout and certification of the Cessna SkyCourier, our clean-sheet twin-engine utility turboprop, and we also celebrated the certification and first delivery of the M2 Gen2 that was announced by the NBAA the past autumn.

There is more to come this year as we look to the first delivery of the SkyCourier, certification and first delivery of the XLS Gen2, and much more. We will have a presence at upcoming shows, including EBACE.

Also this year, the Cessna Turbo Skylane returns to our piston product line. It now has the latest avionics and technology available, making it a great aircraft for first-time owners.

Throughout the pandemic, have you seen much interest from first-time buyers?

We have seen an increase in concept customers – meaning customers who have not previously had their own aircraft.

In addition, customers are taking time to customize their aircraft – they want to make it their own and many want to be part of the design process.

The pandemic obviously reshaped people’s minds in many regards including traveling. People value health and space more than ever when they travel. We see a big increase in aircraft selling, charter operations and private aviation.

Is there anything different that you had to do during the pandemic that you will continue to do once the pandemic is finished?

During the pandemic we had quite a few online events, and we see that as a good change. It gives access to more people and saves logistic arrangements.

Meanwhile, we can also interact with our visitors online, to make it more interesting.

Also, we put a lot more attention on social media development – posting pictures, news about Textron Aviation and our products, and those who fly with our products.

China is seen as a large cabin market, are there any signs that it might be maturing?

At present, the public’s demand for general aviation keeps growing, as aviation culture and consumption enthusiasm are still budding in a small number of people and regions.

The concept of business jets and business travel needs to be popularized to let the public know that private aviation is affordable. Making the choice of business jets focusses on the purchase. Take cars for example, you can buy cars worth millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars. The same goes for business jets. Customers can choose from large cabin, as well as small and medium-sized business jets based on their mission. The general aviation market will develop in a more sustainable way only when such awareness is spread among the public.

The good news is that we do see that happening. From the government side, more and more general aviation airports constructed. The airspace is opening. Provincial governments are helping operators in terms of infrastructure, financing, operation, and management.

Textron Aviation has done very well with flight schools and government agencies in China, why do you think that is?

Many pilots begin their training in Textron Aviation products. It’s a trusted and reliable brand. In addition, the product lineup allows for pilots to move up into other products as they receive additional training. Textron Aviation has the broadest product line in the industry.

The Cessna 172 is recognized as the most iconic aircraft for flight training worldwide. Speaking of flight training, the Cessna Citation M2 Gen2 is the perfect aircraft for advanced training as we delivered couple of the aircraft in China market. In regards to turboprop aircraft, the Beechcraft King Air B300 series is very suitable for missions like weather modification, medevac, commuter services in high altitude airfield and remote area where commercial doesn’t have access.

We also have two Joint Ventures in China which play an important role when we do business with local customers. They can do transactions in RMB, and provide local aircraft maintenance services. Due to COVID-19, it is very difficult to deliver aircraft in China. But our JV means that we can perform ferry flights, clear customs, arrange crew quarantine, perform aircraft inspections and acceptance. Customers have nothing to worry about, we always manage to deliver on time.

Which Citation is perfect for China?

One of the great things about Citations is that there is an entire product lineup.

The Citation series of business jets has evolved to offer an unmatched range of capabilities, systems and options that allow customers to expand their business reach.

Renowned for their ability to combine reliability, efficiency and comfort with advanced technology and class-leading performance, no other family of business jets offers such a seamless progression of aircraft with extraordinary capabilities.

Since Cessna delivered its first Citation in 1972, Citation jets have been the number one business jet by annual delivery volume for 40 years: from 1972-1974, 1979-1981, 1984-2012, and 2016-2020. Owners and operators have made Citations the most popular business jet line in the world, with more than 41 million flight hours.

More than 30 Citation models have been certificated over the 50-year history of the Citation line. There are currently six Citation models in production: Citation M2 Gen2, Citation CJ3+, Citation CJ4 Gen2, Citation XLS Gen2, Citation Latitude and Citation Longitude.

As per our observation in China, Citation’s are the best for the mid size and light segments including charter business, commuter, flight inspection, weather modification, air medical service and advanced training.

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