Airplanista Blog Editor
EAA Airventure Oshkosh, it now appears those rumors might be on the right track, confirmed today by Andy Woodward, Cessna’s Manager of External Communications – Single Engine.
As a pilot who loves the Pilatus PC-12 and TBM 850, I have waited patiently as the major airframe makers came up with a small version of these incredible and efficient airplanes. They are very nice ships, but far too expensive to buy, fly and insure for the average GA pilot. But what IF you could downsize the PC-12’s legendary performance to meet the needs of typical GA pilots while cutting the buy-in by 66 percent or more?
I have always hoped someone like Cessna or Cirrus would develop a machine in between the Columbia/Cirrus piston market and the Mustang/Phenom 100 light jet market that was not a pure jet, but something else, something new - delivering the dependability of a turbine engine coupled with the performance of turboprop power.
And now, it appears Cessna is looking down that road:
In a call to Airplanista today, Woodward identified the photo in this post (found on Facebook yesterday) as one from their Airventure tent showing a model of a “proof of concept” design of a smaller single-engine turboprop. Woodward said, “This single-engine turboprop design is absolutely just a proof of concept at this point, it is not a GO by any means. We are just trying to introduce the concept to our customers, get their feedback, and have them help us build our case for moving this project forward. Before considering this airplane, we want to make sure it’s right in our customer’s mind.”While the end result of this feedback will be a moving target, Woodward confirmed a few preliminary specifications, all of which can change should this airplane ever go into production. The model would be of composite construction with six standard seats and an option for a seventh seat and as a pressurized airplane, could realize a 25,000’ ceiling.
Cessna has a mock-up of the project’s fuselage and cockpit with seating for four in their tent at Airventure so customers can sit down, think about the concept, and then be asked survey questions by Cessna staff using iPads.
While nowhere near a done deal, this public movement by Cessna to acknowledge they are in fact considering this airplane design is huge news for the GA community. Coupled with their 2012 announcement of the Turbo 182 NXT which burns Jet-A, it signals to the sector that Cessna is serious about moving at least partially away from 100LL avgas. As a proven leader in the industry, watch now as other makers start looking for ways to add Jet-A power to their lines (hello Duluth?)
Airplanista urges anyone at EAA Airventure to stop over at the Cessna tent and sit in this concept mock-up to have your brain picked by Cessna about this highly innovative possible new GA machine. How often do we all get to be part of the design process for such a groundbreaking development in aviation? This is your chance…
Jump on it. Cessna tent, mock-up, go there. Now.