EBAN caught up with Tom Perry in Geneva, and he provided some insight into the current buying climate from his perspective, as well as an overview of how Textron products are selling today.
“I think there is a false premise that the upper end of the aircraft spectrum is as resilient as it ever was. Currently, I think there is more slack at the very top than there was a year ago. The evidence that I would use for that is market share in terms of deliveries. If you look at Textron Aviation's segment share we have actually grown it from 2013 to 2014, at the expense of the upper-end manufacturers.
In UBS's most recent survey they gave the strongest rating to small cabin jets and the weakest to large cabin jets. I would suggest that this is because people are being more pragmatic in their choice of jet. I can point to several owners of large jets in Russia who are looking to 'right size' to a smaller jet which exactly meets their operational requirements. Not every large jet owner uses the full range of his aircraft which will tend to have more operational and airfield restrictions.
I'm pleased to say that we are beginning to see a bit more experience coming to the buying attitude of those who previously bought large cabin aircraft, simply because of prestige.
Cessna has always had a big place in people's hearts for light and midsize jets; the CitationJet series has been a bestseller since 1993 when it was first introduced. The addition of the Mustang as an entry-level jet ensured that Cessna's jets, which now include the M2, CJ3+ and CJ4, would lead the light jet sector. What this series offers is a reliable, safe, well-supported platform, that is cost-effective to operate, and which you can staff with common crews. One could operate the entire range of current and legacy CitationJets with pilots holding a common type rating. And the CJs can be operated by a single pilot as well. We are seeing positive trends in this segment as evidenced by the first M2 beginning operations in Russia next month.
The Citation XLS+ still is the leader in its class as a midsize cabin. We have done extremely well in Europe with this model family and we expect the aircraft will continue to be the leader in the charter market. The largest number of departures out of Moscow, for instance, is in a 560XL.
The Citation Latitude offers additional cabin comfort for those that want to travel 1,000 nm further or who have grown attached to a large cabin with a flat floor, while still offering the short-field performance that people associate with Citations.
The resilience of the King Air line is quite extraordinary. With a 50-year heritage and 7,300 King Airs in service, we are keeping the product fresh with a set of cabin enhance-ments and a brand new Rockwell Collins Fusion cockpit. The Fusion will enter service on the King Air 250 later this summer and on the 350i in the fourth quarter, followed by the C90GTx in the first quarter of next year. These are developments and innovations that resonate with our customers.
I can certainly testify to the ruggedness of the Cessna Caravan to perform on dirt strips in Africa. There, as in other parts of the world, it operates scheduled and charter services with very high utilisation and extraordinary dispatch reliability. It has great flexibility too, as it can hold 14 seats, stretchers, special mission ISR equipment or even half a dozen sedated lions!
This sales year has started well and I think what is encouraging is that our first sales in 2015 were in regions that have not been active in the past few years. One aircraft that I believe we will be particularly busy with is the Citation M2, which is the entry-level jet for many customers. It features the Garmin G3000 cockpit and winglets, adding to its appeal, its performance and its capabilities.
The CJ4 is also a stand-out due to its range, speed and payload capabilities, making it an ideal public transport aircraft for those that want the smaller cabin. The Citation XLS+ would be another favourite that Europe has embraced warmly, given its stand-up cabin and range capability to connect London to Moscow, or Geneva to Tel Aviv. I am really excited about what the Latitude will do for Europe, particularly operating to or from the geographical fringes of the continent.”