October 15, 2018 / 7:35 PM / 9 months ago

Textron, NetJets strike deal for more than 300 Cessna planes

ORLANDO, Fla., Oct 15 (Reuters) - NetJets, the luxury plane unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, on Monday announced a deal to purchase up to 325 Cessna Citation business jets from Textron Inc’s aviation unit, one of the biggest orders unveiled at a major jet show this week in Orlando, Florida.

Rob Scholl, a spokesman for Textron Aviation, said he expects NetJets to firm up the orders for up to 175 super-midsize Cessna Citation Longitude aircraft and up to 150 Cessna Citation Hemisphere aircraft in the coming weeks.

Deliveries are expected in the fourth quarter of 2019.

In a statement, NetJets said the Textron agreement could increase its Cessna Citations fleet, which it has operated since 1984, to more than 800 aircraft over the next 10 to 15 years.

The Longitude will compete with the new longer-range, midsized Praetors launched by Embraer SA on Sunday and Bombardier Inc’s Challeger 350 and 650 aircraft.

Planemakers and buyers were buzzing about the deal as they arrived in Orlando, Florida, for the National Business Aviation Association’s flagship annual corporate jet show, which begins on Tuesday.

Demand for luxury aircraft is seen rising thanks to a strong economy and tax cuts in the United States, the world’s largest market for private planes.

The NetJets agreement boosted shares of Textron and also came as a relief to French engine maker Safran SA, which has relied on sales of Cessna’s Hemisphere aircraft, the newest member of the Citation jet family, for its troubled Silvercrest engine.

The deal could increase confidence in the Silvercrest engine made by Safran, which last month reached a financial settlement with Dassault Aviation SA over the engine’s production delays.

French planemaker Dassault recently scrapped plans for a new aircraft that was due to have been powered by Silvercrest and replaced it with a new model, the Falcon 6X, powered by engines built by Pratt & Whitney Canada, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

Dassault unveiled further details of the relaunched Falcon 6X in Orlando on Monday.

Shares in Textron gained 1.64 percent $66.14 in U.S. trade on Monday. (Reporting by Allison Lampert in Orlando, Florida; additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris; writing by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by David Gregorio)

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