Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2018 issue
WICHITA, KAN. – Textron Aviation has decided to discontinue production of the Cessna TTx due to lagging sales of the world’s fastest production piston single-engine fixed gear airplane. The aircraft started as a kitplane at Lancair, then through Columbia Aircraft, company founder Lance Neibauer, manufactured the Columbia 300 in 1998, and the Columbia 400 in 2000. Inefficient production, fierce competition, and an untimely hailstorm conspired to spell the end of Columbia, and Cessna bought the design less than a year after Columbia’s 2007 bankruptcy. Cessna then renamed the airplane first as the Corvalis TT, which logged a handful of sales for the first few years, a total of seven in 2010, the first year the General Aviation Manufacturers Association began publishing such data, none in 2011, then 21 in 2013, after Cessna changed the paint scheme and renamed the aircraft the TTX (later, the TTx).
Annual shipments reached their peak in 2015, with 44 TTx models shipped, according to GAMA data. That was 16 percent of all Cessna piston airplanes sold that year including all four piston models still in production then. By 2017, TTx sales slipped to 23 units, just under 10 percent of all Cessna piston sales, and a fraction of the 355 piston singles (SR20, SR22, and SR22T models) sold by Cirrus last year. Even the Beechcraft Bonanza (13 G36 Bonanzas sold in 2017) was starting to catch up, at least in terms of revenue. Textron meanwhile sold 129 Cessna Skyhawks, 46 Skylanes, and 40 Turbo Stationairs in 2017 – sales figures that reflect relatively steady performance for piston models, all designed decades before the TTx was even a Columbia 400.