Announced at NBAA 1998: Cessna's 21st Century Jets

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At NBAA 1998 in Las Vegas, the world's most prolific manufacturer of business jets laid out its strategy for remaining the dominant player well into the next century. In the largest new product announcement in the company's history, Cessna unveiled two all-new Citation models — the entry-level CJ2 and the mid-size Sovereign — plus major facelifts for two existing models — the CitationJet gets a glass cockpit to become the CJ1, and the 560/V/Ultra is succeeded by a re-engined Citation Ultra Encore. Cessna's Citation menu thus grows to a mind-bending eight models, ranging from the world's fastest-selling bizjet (the $3.5 million Mach .67 CJ1) to the world's fastest-moving one (the $17 million Mach .92 Citation X). AVweb's Mike Busch offers specs, prices, pictures and first impressions.

Four new CitationsNew AircraftCessna has always been a marketing-driven company, and one of the company's signature marketing strategies has been to offer more aircraft models than any of its competitors. Back in the days when GA was predominantly propelled by piston powerplants, Cessna started with four basic models in the 1950s (140, 170, 180, 310) and exploded to some 30 different piston models by the peak production years of the late 1970s. While competitors focused on particular market niches, Cessna offered a model for every mission and every pocketbook. As a result, the company sold more piston planes than all of its competitors combined.

Then, of course, the aircraft market imploded during the economic setbacks of the 1980s, and Cessna ceased piston production altogether for a decade. But in the brief time since the company resumed production of piston singles at its new facility in Independence, Kansas, the initial two models (172 and 182) has already grown to five (172SP, 206, T206), and rumors persist of additional model introductions (particularly a retractable-gear 182).

Re-inventing the bizjet

Citation 500Cessna entered the Learjet-dominated bizjet market late, and its 1972 introduction of the original six-seat 350-knot Model 500 Citation was greeted with skepticism and even ridicule. (Learjet salesmen regularly disparaged the C500 as the "Nearjet.") But, Cessna had a unique vision that set their new jet apart from what Lear and others were offering at that time. The Citation was a low-cost entry-level jet with excellent short-field capability, an environmentally-friendly noise signature, dead-simple systems, and a standard factory-installed avionics package and interior. Also unique to Cessna's concept was that the Citation was sold factory-direct (not through dealers), and was supported by a worldwide network of factory-operated service centers. Those innovations wound up catapulting Cessna from a late entrant to the dominant bizjet manufacturer, and transforming the face of the business aircraft industry.

Cessna originally forecast that it would sell 1,000 Citations in ten years, a prediction that seemed wildly optimistic and implausible in 1972. But, Cessna did indeed deliver Citation #1,000 right on target in 1982, and boldly predicted another 1,000 jet deliveries in the decade to follow. The industry debacle of the late 1980s threw a monkey wrench into those plans, and 1992 came and went without seeing Citation #2,000 roll off the line. But the mid-90s brought the greatest period of economic expansion since the end of World War II, and Citation orders started flowing faster than Cessna's Wichita workforce could build them. About 2,500 Citations have now been delivered, and at today's feverish pace of production, Cessna now forecasts that Citation #3,000 will be delivered sometime in 1999. The company's bizjet production is sold out well beyond Y2K.

One becomes three, then three becomes six

Citation I, II, IIIWithin five years after the original Citation introduction, the Citation product line had evolved to three Roman-enumerated bizjet models. The entry-level C500 evolved into the Citation I (Model 501). A stretched Citation II (Model 550) was introduced for those who needed something larger than a four-passenger cabin. Rounding out the line was the Citation III (Model 600), Cessna's first swept-wing bizjet designed to appeal to customers with a lust for speed (a niche previously owned by Learjet).

Citation XIn the two decades since then, the Citation line has undergone continual evolution. In 1989, the 550 underwent an additional stretch to become the Citation V (Model 560). The swept-wing Citation III was superceded in 1992 by a bigger, faster Citation VII (Model 650) with Cessna's first stand-up cabin. In 1990, Cessna announced that it was going to build the world's fastest bizjet, although the first Mach .92 Citation X wasn't actually delivered until six years later (to golf legend Arnold Palmer).

In 1989, Cessna announced that it would discontinue the original C500/501 and replace it by an all-new clean-sheet design dubbed the CitationJet, powered by the innovative and diminutive Williams FJ44 fan-jet engine. The CJ was first delivered in 1993 and quickly became the hottest-selling bizjet in history, with some 300 copies delivered to date. In contrast with other Citations, the CJ is positioned to appeal to entrepreneurs as a first company airplane or turboprop replacement, and is often flown by the boss (rather than a professional crew).

Six CitationsPerhaps as a result of the CitationJet's sales success, the marketing folks at Cessna decided that model numbers and Roman numerals were out and catchy names were in. The Citation V (Model 560) became the Citation Ultra. The Citation II (Model 550) was updated to become the Citation Bravo. And, earlier this year, Cessna debuted the Citation Excel, the company's first straight-wing jet with a stand-up cabin. The Excel has already garnered more than 200 firm orders valued at $1.6 billion.

This brought the Citation product line to six models — the CitationJet, Bravo, Ultra, Excel, VII and X — ranging in price from $3 million to $17 million, in cabin size from 4 to 10 pax, and in speed from the industry's slowest bizjet to the fastest. With the best sales in its corporate history and production sold-out for the next couple of years, wouldn't you suppose Cessna would stop tinkering with its Citation product line and simply concentrate on building and selling as many as they can while today's robust business climate remains intact? Guess again.

Citation Sovereign (top view)The day before the opening of NBAA 1998, Cessna made the largest new product announcement in the company's history. Cessna unveiled two all-new Citation models:

  • a stretched, up-engined version of the entry-level CitationJet, dubbed the CJ2; and
  • a totally new clean-sheet mid-size bizjet design, called the Citation Sovereign (pictured at right), to fill the gap between Cessna's flagship Citation X and its smaller Excel/VII, and to better compete against mid-size competitors like the Lear 55/60, Hawker 800, Falcon 10 and Westwind.

At the same time, Cessna announced facelifts for two other Citation models: the Ultra gets bigger, more fuel-efficient engines and improved systems to become the polysyllabic Citation Ultra Encore, and the hot-selling little CitationJet gets a bleeding-edge glass cockpit to become the CJ1.

NOTE: Click on the photos and diagrams in the remainder of this article for larger images.

Cessna's new CitationJet CJ2

CJ2 logoThe phenomenal success of the CitationJet over the past five years focused Cessna's attention back where it had started out 26 years ago: the entry-level bizjet. A typical CJ buyer is an owner-pilot entrepreneur of a privately-held $50- or $100-million company who is looking for a first jet to replace the company's Cheyenne, Conquest or King Air turboprop. But, while it has proven to be an immensely attractive alternative to a Conquest I or King Air 90, the CJ's small six-place cabin presents a stumbling block to those looking to upgrade from larger birds like the Conquest II or King Air 200. At the same time, the $5 million Bravo is more airplane than many of these customers can afford or justify.

CJ2 vs CJ cabin comparisonEnter the just-announced CitationJet CJ2. Starting with a CJ, Cessna stretched the cabin by 35 inches to accommodate two additional seats and a big refreshment center, lengthened the tailcone by 17 inches to provide extra baggage space (including enough room for skis), extended the wingspan by 36 inches for improved high-altitude performance, increased the horizontal tail area by 15% to handle the wider CG envelope, and upgraded the engines to the latest Williams FJ44-2Cs rated at 2,300 lbs. of thrust each. The result, Cessna hopes, will be an airplane that renders the King Air 200 and its ilk obsolete.

Priced at $4.2 million, the CJ2 comes in about midway between the $3.3 million CJ and the $5 million Citation Bravo. Operating costs are on a par with the CJ and substantially lower than the Bravo.

Faster and higher

CJ2 in flightThe new FJ44-2C engines and longer wing makes the CJ2 an honest-to-god high-altitude airplane. Cabin pressurization provides an 8.9 PSI differential to FL450, and a sea-level cabin to FL235. The -2Cs incorporate a 1-inch larger wide-sweep fan and a three-stage compressor, but otherwise share the identical engine core of the CJ's FJ44-1As. Hydro-mechanical fuel control units incorporate integral fuel heaters, eliminating any requirement for Prist.

While the CJ2's maximum cruise speed of 400 knots is achieved at FL330, it can still do a respectable 385 knots at FL410. This makes it 20 knots faster than the CJ at FL330 and a whopping 38 knots faster at FL410. At max gross, it takes the CJ2 just 27 minutes to climb to FL410. Fuel efficiency of the CJ2 is better than a King Air C90B, and matches that of the original CJ despite the fact that the CJ2 flies faster and higher. Cruising at a miserly fuel burn of 900 lbs. per hour, and with its maximum fuel capacity of 4,000 lbs., the CJ2 provides a 1,450 NM range with three aboard and IFR reserves.

Bleeding-edge avionics

CJ2 panel, featuring Collins ProLine 21The CJ2's flight deck features a state-of-the-art Collins ProLine 21 suite. On the captain's side are two large flat-panel active-matrix color LCD displays, normally configured as a Primary Flight Display (PFD) on the left and a Multi-Function Display (MFD) on the right. The PFD typically displays the Flight Director and HSI, while the MFD typically displays engine instrumentation and a moving map navigation display. In the case of a display failure, however, the surviving screen will show a reversionary display combining engine data, FD and HSI. The copilot gets smaller LCD displays serving as ADI and HSI. AlliedSignal CNI-5000 radios, a Collins RTA-800 color radar, Bendix/King KLN-900 GPS, and a radio altimeter round out the standard avionics suite. (CVR, TCAS, GPWS, and RVSM certification are optional extras.)

The black boxes buried in the avionics bay are no less impressive. The Collins ProLine 21 system features a completely solid-state altitude/heading reference system (AHRS) with no moving parts. In place of mechanical gyros, the AHRS employs an array of digital quartz "tuning fork" sensors that are immune from wear and precession. The weather radar system uses a phased-array antenna that also has no moving parts. The CJ2 is a sterling example of just how far avionics for low-end turbine-powered aircraft have come in the last few years.

Stretched cabin

Of the 35-inch fuselage stretch in the CJ2, the flight deck is two inches longer and the passenger cabin is 33 inches longer. The standard cabin is configured in six-place center club configuration, with two rear-facing and four front-facing seats. The center pair of seats is on tracks, allowing them to be slid aft to provide loads of legroom for the club seating area when the two aft seats are unoccupied. A new overhead lighting and ventilation design and reduced-height seats provide a good two inches more headroom than the CJ. A large refreshment center opposite the air-stair entry door provides plenty of room for food and beverages for eight people. The cabinetry and dividers employ a new pin-mounting system that allows faster removal and reinstallation during maintenance, with less chance of wear and tear in the process.

CJ2 cabin cutawayI had an opportunity to sit in Cessna's CJ2 mockup, and I was impressed. Although I'm decidedly a large person, I found the cabin and seats extremely roomy and comfortable, and entry and exit far easier than I anticipated. I'd expected to feel claustrophobic in the CJ2 cabin, and so was very surprised at how spacious it felt. Cessna's interior design folks have done a masterful job of making this cabin feel much larger than its dimensions would suggest.

The stretched CJ2 tailcone accommodates a huge 50 cubic foot baggage compartment placarded for 600 lbs. and big enough to handle 85-inch skis. The nose baggage compartment brings total baggage volume to 74.4 cubic feet and 1,100 lbs.

Maximum gross takeoff weight is 12,300 lbs., permitting the CJ2 to be certified under the less-demanding requirements of FAR Part 23. Maximum landing weight is 11,500 lbs., and basic operating weight is 7,825 lbs. FAR Part 25 balanced field length at sea level and ISA conditions is less than 3,500 feet. Landing distance is 2,765 feet at a Vref of just 101 KIAS.

Price and delivery

CJ2 dimensions (side view)Cessna expects the CJ2 prototype to make its first flight in mid-1999 and to earn its FAA Type Certificate in mid-2000. First customer delivery is planned for early in 2001. If you order one now, you'll pay $4.2 million (1998 dollars). But you'll need to be patient, because Cessna already has firm orders and non-refundable deposits for the first two years of production (virtually all from current CJ owners), making the CJ2 introduction Cessna's most successful new product introduction in the company's history.

CitationJet gets new avionics to become the CJ1...

CJ1 logoCessna has no plans to discontinue the hot-selling CitationJet. Far from it, in fact. Starting in the first quarter of 2000 (with serial number 525-0360), the CJ will get the same state-of-the-art Collins ProLine 21 avionics suite as the CJ2, and becomes known as the CitationJet CJ1. Like the CJ2, CVR, TCAS and GPWS are optional, and an RVSM certification kit will be available.

CJ1 in flightOther changes include a gross weight increase of 200 lbs. relative to the CJ. BOW goes up just 55 pounds, providing a 145-pound useful load increase. Full fuel payload with a single pilot rises to 675 pounds. Range with one pilot and three pax aboard is about 1,250 NM with IFR reserves.

Cessna had not announced the CJ1 price at press time, but you should expect it to come in around $3.5 million, plus or minus. Cessna presently projects a production rate of about 60 CJ1s and 45 CJ2s per year.

...while Ultra gets re-engined to become Ultra Encore

Citation Ultra Encore logoSmack in the middle of the Cessna product line, the seven-passenger straight-wing Citation Ultra (née Citation V) has long been considered a near-perfect design that does almost everything well, and Cessna has sold more than 500 copies of the $6 million airplane. Starting with serial number 560-0539 to be delivered in the first quarter of 2000, the Ultra gets larger and more fuel-efficient engines, increased payload, a new trailing link landing gear, new brakes, new deicing, RVSM qualification, and a bunch of other tweaks to become the Citation Ultra Encore. (I'm not sure what genius came up with that tongue twister, but I've noticed that the troops at Cessna have already shortened it to simply "Citation Encore" when they think nobody's listening. The airplane's new logo also seems to beg for such a shortening.)

Ultra Encore in flightThe Encore's new PW535A high-bypass forced-mixer engines deliver 10% more thrust (3,360 lbs. per engine) and 16% better specific fuel consumption compared to the Ultra's JT15D-5Ds...not to mention a generous 5,000 hour TBO. The increased thrust allows a 330 lb. increase in MGTOW, while the improved fuel specifics permit the fuel tanks to be reduced by 516 lbs. with no sacrifice in range (still around 1,700 NM with IFR reserves). Combined with other minor weight savings, the bottom line is a full 1,000 lb. increase in full fuel payload.

Ultra Encore top viewThe smaller fuel tanks provide the extra room behind the wing leading edges required to install hot air ducting, enabling Cessna to get rid of the Ultra's high-maintenance pneumatic boot deice system and replace it with heated wing leading edge anti-ice protection.

The Encore gets a brand new landing gear — actually, the same beefy trailing link gear already used on the Bravo and Excel — which makes smooth landings nearly automatic. The new gear has a substantially narrower tread, providing improved ground handling. A new brake system is more effective and less "grabby" than before.

Ultra Encore cutawayOther improvements include a new digital pressurization controller, an improved electrical J-box that simplifies maintainability, and a combination of lower-profile seats and a redesigned cabin overhead panel that together provide two inches more headroom in the passenger cabin.

The avionics suite remains a three-tube Honeywell Primus 1000 system with 8x10-inch pilot and copilot PFDs and a single center-mounted MFD. Radios include 8.33 kHz channel spacing for European operation. RVSM group certification is standard.

Price for the Encore is $6.9 million (in year 2000 dollars), an increase of about $300,000 over the Ultra on an apples-to-apples basis. This price includes everything except TCAS and EGPWS.

An all-new mid-size bizjet: the Citation Sovereign

Citation Sovereign logoCessna's most ambitious new product announcement at NBAA 1998 is the introduction of an entirely new design to fill the "mid-size" gap between Cessna's traditional 500-series models which top out around $7 million, and the big transoceanic jets (Challenger, Gulfstream, etc.) that cost upwards of $15 million. Existing mid-size bizjets such as the Lear 55/60, Hawker 800, Falcon 10, Westwind, and Cessna's own swept-wing 600-series Citations are all rather "mature" designs introduced more than 15 years ago, and there are nearly 1,800 of these aircraft flying. Cessna concluded that the market was ripe for a new clean-sheet design in this category.

Sovereign cutaway viewThe result is the all-new Cessna Sovereign, a $12 million aircraft with an extraordinarily spacious 10-passenger stand-up cabin, 2,500 NM coast-to-coast IFR range, extraordinary short-field capability, and the latest engine and avionics technology. When first customer deliveries begin in the third quarter of 2002, the Sovereign will be the largest and longest-legged Citation ever built.

Sovereign cabin size comparisonThe Sovereign starts with a stand-up cabin a full five feet longer than the Excel and Citation VII (and even a smidgen longer than the top-of-the-line Citation X), configured with double club seating plus a two-person couch. This capacious cabin is mated with an all-new wing design, combining a mildly-swept leading edge with a straight trailing edge to provide Mach .75 cruise at FL410 plus a sea level ISA balanced field length of just 4,080 feet. The aircraft will be certified up to FL470. Full-fuel payload is 1,600 lbs.

Sovereign in flightThe Sovereign will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW306C engines, each providing 5,686 lbs. of thrust flat-rated to ISA+15C. These engines use dual FADECs, wide-sweep fans, and forced exhaust mixers to provide state-of-the-art fuel efficiency. TBO is 6,000 hours, with one 3,000-hour hot section inspection. Fuel heaters eliminate the need for Prist.

Avionics will be provided by Honeywell, and include four 8x10-inch flat panel color displays, providing PFDs and MFDs for both pilot and copilot. Engine instruments are displayed on the MFDs. The $11,995,000 price includes a standard 10-place interior and full-up avionics including TCAS and EGPWS. Add CVR, FDR, and a few other doodads, and the typical Sovereign will probably go out the door for around $12.7 million. Cessna is confident that no other comparably-priced aircraft can carry so much so far.

So, now there are eight

Cessna thus enters the 21st century with eight distinct Citation models:Citation product line

  • Citation CJ1 (4 pax, straight wing, est. $3.5 million)
  • Citation CJ2 (6 pax, straight wing, $4.2 million)
  • Citation Bravo (7 pax, straight wing, $5 million)
  • Citation Ultra Encore (7 pax, straight wing, $7 million)
  • Citation Excel (7 pax, stand-up cabin, straight wing, $8 million)
  • Citation VII (8 pax, stand-up cabin, swept wing, $10 million)
  • Citation Sovereign (10 pax, stand-up cabin, mildly-swept wing, $12 million)
  • Citation X (10 pax, stand-up cabin, swept wing, Mach .92, $17 million)

What this means is that bizjet customers who are loyal to Brand C now have no need to look elsewhere unless they're in the market for an intercontinental machine in the Challenger or Gulfstream class.

Hmmm...what do you suppose Cessna has up its sleeve for NBAA 1999?