CESSNA AIRCRAFT LANDS MAJOR ORDER IN BRAZIL

CESSNA AIRCRAFT LANDS MAJOR ORDER IN BRAZIL

Cessna Aircraft Co. has landed a big order for the small planes it plans to begin building next year.

Cessna officials on hand for the National Business Aircraft Association trade show confirmed Monday that the company has landed a surprise order for 100 new single-engine aircraft. The buyer is TAM/Transportes Aerias Regionais, Cessna's largest South American customer and sales representative.Based in Brazil, TAM is also a major customer for the Cessna Caravan, with a fleet of more than 30 in operation.

The timing and size of TAM's order came as a total surprise to Cessna's marketing staff, according to company insiders.

The word came Friday as the Cessna staff was preparing to depart Wichita for pre-NBAA events in Palm Springs, Calif., and Las Vegas.

"Let me tell you, it took some scrambling to get the information together at the last minute so we would have it for the convention," said one company executive.

Cessna plans to begin production of updated versions of its piston- powered 172, 182 and 206 models next year.

The order from TAM gives Cessna a backlog of more than 200 orders for single-engine planes.

Cessna officials would not disclose the type of planes ordered by TAM, or the value of the package.

Meanwhile, AlliedSignal Aerospace executives boosted the spirits of convention participants with the company's annual forecast for general aviation aircraft sales.

AlliedSignal predicts that between 3,500 and 3,600 new business jets will be sold during the next 11 years, an amount worth more than $42 billion. That figure represents an annual growth rate of 5.5 percent in the number of planes sold.

North America, historically the largest single chunk of the market, will account for nearly 70 percent of the projected sales. Sales are expected to be less robust than usual in Europe, where airport noise constraints and the cost of using the private air-traffic control network has dampened use of business aircraft.