Sep. 29--While Cessna officials expected a good show at the National Business Aviation Association's annual convention in Atlanta, the rapid pace of orders caught them a little by surprise.

"It was one of the most successful shows we ever had," said Cessna spokesman Bob Stangarone, back in Wichita after the three-day convention ended Thursday.

The company wasn't ready to release order numbers on Friday, however.

"We're still processing everything," he said.

But the buzz around the show was that Cessna sold more than 100 business jets and dozens of Caravans during the convention. That's in addition to Cessna's announcement this week that it has sold 30 Citation Xs to XOJet, a fractional ownership company. The deal is valued at more than $60 million.

This week's orders add to a record backlog that exceeds $11 billion. Cessna said it will boost Citation X and Caravan production rates.

The NBAA convention typically has been a place to make contacts and develop future business.

This year, "people were in a buying mood," Stangarone said.

Organizers of the 60th annual convention said the show attracted a record 1,152 exhibitors in more than 1 million square feet of space in the Georgia Dome and more than 100 aircraft at its sold-out static display at Fulton County airport. Attendance totaled more than 32,000.

One noticeable trend was the increase in the amount of interest from global customers, said Hawker Beechcraft spokeswoman Jackie Berger.

"It truly was an international show this time around," Berger said. "We saw customers from all around the world."

Like Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft was still getting final order numbers Friday.

"We had an especially good NBAA," Berger said.

Bombardier Aerospace spokeswoman Danielle Boudreau said the company sold two Wichita-built Learjet 60XR jets and one Global XRS to Aero Toy Store, a fixed based operator and broker in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

That was in addition to the order announced from XOJet for 20 Challenger 300s with an option for 60 more.

Bombardier debuted its extended range Learjet 60XR at the show. It also noted that the first class of Learjet 60XR pilots graduated last week from its training center in Dallas. The plane entered service in July.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or []

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