Cessna to build business jets in China

Friday, March 23, 2012, Vol. 36, No. 12

BEIJING (AP) — Business jet maker Cessna Aircraft Co. signed agreements Friday with Chinese partners to build business jets in China and explore other aviation opportunities.

The Kansas-based company is joining with state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China and the municipal government of Chengdu in western China, where the three plan a joint venture to produce midsize Cessna business jets and possibly new models in the future.

China is seen as the most promising major market for the aviation industry.

Scott Donnelly, chief executive officer of Cessna's owner Textron Inc., said he expected significant growth in China because of its growing economy and diverse geography.

So far, China's private jet market has been dominated by Bombardier and Gulfstream, which make larger jets than Cessna's small and medium-sized aircraft.

Cessna officials on Friday said there are about 200 Cessna aircraft in China.

Donnelly declined to comment on Cessna's projections for the Chinese market, only saying he expected "very, very robust" growth.

The signing between AVIC and Cessna comes two days after Bombardier signed an agreement with state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China to collaborate on common parts for their aircraft.