Catalyst Drives Delays on Denali

Textron Aviation celebrates Longitude while dialing back the turboprop’s first flight schedule.

Cessna Denali
The Cessna Denali’s first flight has been delayed in anticipation of the delivery of the test engine from GE Aviation.Textron Aviation

A year ago, Textron Aviation predicted the first flight of its Cessna Denali turboprop would take place by the end of 2019, but delays in the testing of the new Catalyst engine from GE Aviation have translated into a later delivery of the first test engines to Textron Aviation. The company expects those engines now early 2020.

But there’s plenty of good news, in this 50th year celebration of the Cessna Citation. In fact, the company received type certification on the Citation Longitude in September, and followed that news with deliveries that began in the first week of October. Textron Aviation president Ron Draper characterized the certification as the “largest type certification project to date for our company.” The jet was designed to have the longest maintenance intervals in its class, at 800 hours or 18 months, and Draper called it the most cost-effective aircraft in its category. He foresees the jet doing well as a special missions platform too, indicating future options possible for these operations.

Draper announced that Textron Aviation would also debut at the show its new interactive technical maintenance applications utilizing 3D-technology. “It will provide technicians the most advanced way to troubleshoot and maintain the airplane.” These offer wiring diagrams, parts catalogs, and maintenance procedures—allowing the technician to click straight to the component they’re looking for. The publications are available through the OneView subscription for the Longitude.

Textron Aviation 3D tools
New technician resources from Textron Aviation utilize 3-D technology to drive an interactive troubleshooting process.Textron Aviation

Textron Aviation headlines its presence on the static display with the Longitude, along with mock-ups of the SkyCourier and Denali. It has celebrated several milestones throughout the year, with the 200th delivery of the Citation Latitude, 300th CJ4 delivery, 50th anniversary of the Beech Baron, and the 500th Caravan EX delivery. "It's fitting that the Longitude was certified in September of 2019, which is 50 years to the month from the first flight from the very first Citation," said Draper.

Jet volumes are up year over year from 2018, and Textron Aviation continues to invest in new products for the future. The company looks forward to a healthy fourth quarter. Rob Scholl, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Textron Aviation, outlined specific indicators they foresee as driving a strong year into 2020. “We think that 2020 is going to be a good year for us, and 2019 will wrap up well…[looking at] the percentage of the fleet available for both the King Air and the Citation product lines—we think the trend continues for there to be limited availability in that space,” said Scholl. Average daily utilization on the fleet continues to run in line with previous years—another good indication, according to Scholl.

The company also announced the expansion of its global parts distribution capabilities, with increased square footage in its service centers in Orlando, Phoenix-Mesa, and Teterboro. “When our customers need a part, we need to deliver and get them back in the air as fast as possible,” said Brad Thress, senior vice president of Parts, Programs and Flight Operations at Textron Aviation. “Expanding our distribution network footprint around the world allows us to store more parts in high-volume traffic hubs, meaning we’re always nearby and ready to support.”