Estimated reading time 10 minutes, 21 seconds.
Lannie O’Bannion took on the role of Textron Aviation’s senior vice-president of global sales and flight operations in March 2021, where he oversees the company’s global commercial aircraft sales, pre-owned sales, pro-ownership, flight operations, and business development functions.
However, O’Bannion joined Textron Aviation at 22 years old, right out of college, and has been with the company for nearly 30 years. Almost all of his experience with Textron has been in customer-facing roles, including sales, as well as his most recent role as vice-president of Textron’s North America customer service centres.
In his current role, O’Bannion remains dedicated to the company’s collective vision of designing and delivering the best aviation experience for its customers.
Skies: Textron Aviation has several new projects on the go. Could you provide a high-level overview of some of the major projects and where they’re at today?
Lannie O’Bannion: It’s a great time to be part of business and general aviation, and we’ve been happy to announce many Cessna and Beechcraft product enhancements and investments for our customers this year.
First, we announced our newest business jet in May — the Cessna Citation Ascend. Expected to enter into service in 2025, the Ascend features an entirely new cockpit, 15 per cent larger windows, and flat cabin flooring, which means better performance and a new level of comfort for our customers. The Ascend also comes with Garmin G5000 technology, as well as long time-on-wing and brand-new autothrottle technology.
The Beechcraft Denali debuted at EAA AirVenture in July — to a great response. Beechcraft turboprops are renowned for their versatility and reliability, and we were thrilled to unveil the aircraft to the world. We continue to experience great progress with the Denali development program, and we believe the aircraft will be a game-changer in the single-engine, high-performance turboprop segment.
Finally, we are expanding our parts distribution center in Wichita by adding 180,000 square feet. This will help us better support customers who own and operate Cessna, Beechcraft, and Hawker products. The larger space will allow us to invest in more inventory to support new models like the Cessna SkyCourier and Beechcraft Denali. The expansion will also make it easier for customers to do business with us, with a dedicated lane for dropping off or picking up parts in person, and opportunities for consolidated shipments. The project is almost complete, and we look forward to moving in by the end of the year.
Skies: What response did Textron Aviation receive from the industry after announcing the addition of Garmin Autoland to the Denali?
L.O.: The response has been excellent. The Autoland system is a great addition to the Beechcraft Denali and the G3000 avionics suite, and we’ve included it in the program as a direct response to continued conversations with our customers. The feature makes the Denali even more desirable to a wider audience as it adds yet another element of assurance and peace of mind for pilots and passengers.
Skies: Is certification of the Denali still expected in 2025? And what is demand looking like?
L.O.: As announced earlier this year, Textron Aviation is aligning the Beechcraft Denali aircraft certification timing (which is expected in 2025) to the certification timeline for the new GE Catalyst engine. Our customers are excited about the Emergency Autoland feature and the aircraft.
Skies: Earlier this year, Textron Aviation delivered the first passenger version of the Cessna SkyCourier. How is that program going, and are there more deliveries expected through the end of this year?
L.O.: The Cessna SkyCourier is well on its way to becoming a legendary aircraft for our company. It’s highly versatile, with cabin flexibility, payload capability, performance, and low operating costs, and has already proven popular worldwide.
While I can’t share information about specific customers or deliveries, we recently achieved certification from the National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) in Brazil, which means we can serve the diverse and expansive market in the country.
Skies: Among Textron Aviation’s business jet offerings, the Citation Latitude continues to lead this year in deliveries and has been known as the world’s most-delivered midsize bizjet in previous years. Are there any planned updates/upgrades for the type?
L.O.: The Citation Latitude offers an unrivaled passenger experience along with tremendous mission flexibility. We designed the aircraft with comfort, productivity, and efficiency at the forefront. Our customers appreciate the leading takeoff field of 3,580 feet — which provides operators with a greater range out of short airports — as well as the open, spacious, and refined cabin environment with a flat floor and six feet of cabin height.
While I don’t have anything to announce right now, we’re continuously investing in clean sheet designs and product upgrades to serve our customers across our entire product lineup.
Skies: What can this year’s NBAA-BACE attendees expect to see from Textron Aviation?
L.O.: We have an action-packed week planned for NBAA, including a great lineup of aircraft for our guests to view — like the Cessna Citation Longitude, Latitude, CJ4 Gen2, M2 Gen2, Beechcraft King Air 360, Beechcraft Denali, a special missions configured Cessna Caravan, and a mock up of the new Citation Ascend jet. Visitors may see some surprises as well!
Skies: Describe what role sustainability plays in Textron Aviation’s strategy?
L.O.: We are committed to environmental sustainability and natural resource conservation and support the Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change. As part of Textron Inc., we have established enterprise-wide five-year goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent, and energy consumption, water use, and waste generation by 10 per cent by 2025. We also utilize renewable wind energy to meet nearly all the company’s electricity needs in Kansas.
We are making robust investments in our products and facilities to be designed or operated in a more sustainable way. Our new aircraft programs demonstrate our commitment to reduced emissions and improved efficiency, as evidenced by the new Beechcraft Denali and Citation Ascend. Our entire lineup of turbine aircraft can operate on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and customers can take delivery of their aircraft with SAF, as well as refuel with SAF at Textron Aviation’s service centre in Wichita.
We are actively supporting the development of sustainable propulsion solutions, such as hydrogen electric and hybrid electric, and our global service network received recertification from the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) as a Green Aviation Business.
We’re also actively engaged in conversations and industry events dedicated to sustainability initiatives to shape policy and regulation. Textron Aviation experts participate in, and often lead, industry committees and advocacy groups as part of the FAA, NATA, NBAA, EBAA, and GAMA. We also support initiatives like the EBAA and NBAA Sustainability Green Pledge to manage waste, water, and energy usage at industry tradeshows and events.
Skies: What do you hope to see through the end of this year in terms of Textron Aviation’s orders and earnings performance?
L.O.: I invite you to join the next Textron, Inc., earnings call on Oct. 26 to learn more.