July 23, 2012
Cessna, which last fall unveiled two new jets, is turning its attention to turboprops, gathering market feedback on a potential 6-7 place single turboprop and developing a new version of its venerable Grand Caravan. Separately, the company is looking to certify is light-sport aircraft, the Skycatcher, in Europe.
Dubbed the ERV (engineering research vehicle), the concept plane has been flying for the past several years. But Cessna officials maintain the program is “not a go” until they are able to determine the market for such an aircraft.
The aircraft is larger, though, than another concept piston that Cessna had tested and contemplated – the NPG (next-generation piston).
The company has a display relating to the concept plane at this week’s Experimental Aircraft Association 2012 Airventure in Oshkosh, Wis., to gather input on the aircraft, which would be smaller than its Caravan.
The Grand Caravan “EX,” meanwhile, will receive a performance boost from a new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140 engine. The engine will provide a 25% boost in horsepower to 867 hp. The additional horsepower will provide a 350-ft. reduction in takeoff roll, 20% improvement in rate of climb and a 10-12 kt. improvement in cruise speed.
Cessna expects to bring the aircraft to market in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Lannie O’Bannion, Cessna Caravan business leader, says the additional performance “places more of the world within reach.”
Cessna also is striving to open up new markets for its 162 Skycatcher light-sport aircraft, seeking European certification. Tracy Leopold, business leader for the 162, says the aircraft currently is only permitted in nine countries and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval will provide a significant expansion.
Leopold stresses that the aircraft – which is not certified in the U.S., but meets ASTM standards for certification – will remain a light-sport aircraft in the U.S., even if it is certified in Europe.