40 Years Of Citations

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Has it really been 40 years? The prototype of the most successful family of business jets (number-wise), the Cessna Citation, first flew exactly 40 years ago Tuesday. Milt Sills and co-pilot J.L. LeSueur took the first Citation on a 105-minute hop and started a revolution in the business jet market that led to a myriad of innovations and made the Citation line of business aircraft the largest fleet in the world. More than 6,000 have been built, there are seven models (from the Mustang to the Citation X) in production and the CJ-4 is nearing certification.

Although today's Citations are far more technically advanced than the first model, which was going to be named the Fanjet 500 until more creative minds prevailed, the founding premise of an efficient aircraft that can be flown by just about anyone with proper training has endured and owner-pilots continue to be a substantial market. "The concept was to offer a growing population of business travelers an aircraft that was an easy transition for twin-engine turboprop pilots and a quieter, simpler, safer and less expensive option than other business jets on the market," Cessna said in a news release. The first Citation was certified in 1971. The sticker price was $675,000 for a pressurized fanjet that could carry six and cruise in the 300s.