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

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.

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Four new CitationsNew AircraftCessnahas always been a marketing-driven company, and one of the company’s signature marketingstrategies has been to offer more aircraft models than any of its competitors. Back in thedays when GA was predominantly propelled by piston powerplants, Cessna started with fourbasic models in the 1950s (140, 170, 180, 310) and exploded to some 30 different pistonmodels by the peak production years of the late 1970s. While competitors focused onparticular 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 the1980s, and Cessna ceased piston production altogether for a decade. But in the brief timesince the company resumed production of piston singles at its new facility inIndependence, Kansas, the initial two models (172 and 182) has already grown to five(172SP, 206, T206), and rumors persist of additional model introductions (particularly aretractable-gear 182).

Re-inventing the bizjet

Citation 500Cessna entered the Learjet-dominated bizjet market late, and its1972 introduction of the original six-seat 350-knot Model 500 Citation was greeted withskepticism and even ridicule. (Learjet salesmen regularly disparaged the C500 as the”Nearjet.”) But, Cessna had a unique vision that set their new jet apart fromwhat Lear and others were offering at that time. The Citation was a low-cost entry-leveljet with excellent short-field capability, an environmentally-friendly noise signature,dead-simple systems, and a standard factory-installed avionics package and interior. Alsounique to Cessna’s concept was that the Citation was sold factory-direct (not throughdealers), 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 bizjetmanufacturer, and transforming the face of the business aircraft industry.

Cessna originally forecast that it would sell 1,000 Citations in ten years, aprediction that seemed wildly optimistic and implausible in 1972. But, Cessna did indeeddeliver Citation #1,000 right on target in 1982, and boldly predicted another 1,000 jetdeliveries in the decade to follow. The industry debacle of the late 1980s threw a monkeywrench into those plans, and 1992 came and went without seeing Citation #2,000 roll offthe line. But the mid-90s brought the greatest period of economic expansion since the endof World War II, and Citation orders started flowing faster than Cessna’s Wichitaworkforce could build them. About 2,500 Citations have now been delivered, and at today’sfeverish pace of production, Cessna now forecasts that Citation #3,000 will be deliveredsometime 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 Citationintroduction, the Citation product line had evolved to three Roman-enumerated bizjetmodels. The entry-level C500 evolved into the Citation I (Model 501). A stretched CitationII (Model 550) was introduced for those who needed something larger than a four-passengercabin. Rounding out the line was the Citation III (Model 600), Cessna’s first swept-wingbizjet designed to appeal to customers with a lust for speed (a niche previously owned byLearjet).

Citation XIn the two decades since then, the Citation line has undergone continualevolution. 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, fasterCitation VII (Model 650) with Cessna’s first stand-up cabin. In 1990, Cessna announcedthat it was going to build the world’s fastest bizjet, although the first Mach .92Citation 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 replaceit by an all-new clean-sheet design dubbed the CitationJet, powered by the innovative anddiminutive Williams FJ44 fan-jet engine. The CJ was first delivered in 1993 and quicklybecame the hottest-selling bizjet in history, with some 300 copies delivered to date. Incontrast with other Citations, the CJ is positioned to appeal to entrepreneurs as a firstcompany airplane or turboprop replacement, and is often flown by the boss (rather than aprofessional crew).

Six CitationsPerhaps as a result of the CitationJet’s sales success, themarketing folks at Cessna decided that model numbers and Roman numerals were out andcatchy names were in. The Citation V (Model 560) became the Citation Ultra. The CitationII (Model 550) was updated to become the Citation Bravo. And, earlier this year, Cessnadebuted 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 4to 10 pax, and in speed from the industry’s slowest bizjet to the fastest. With the bestsales 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 simplyconcentrate on building and selling as many as they can while today’s robust businessclimate remains intact? Guess again.

Citation Sovereign (top view)The day beforethe opening of NBAA 1998, Cessna made the largest new product announcement in thecompany’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 Ultragets bigger, more fuel-efficient engines and improved systems to become the polysyllabicCitation Ultra Encore, and the hot-selling little CitationJet gets a bleeding-edge glasscockpit to become the CJ1.

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

Cessna’s new CitationJet CJ2

CJ2 logoThe phenomenal success of theCitationJet over the past five years focused Cessna’s attention back where it had startedout 26 years ago: the entry-level bizjet. A typical CJ buyer is an owner-pilotentrepreneur of a privately-held $50- or $100-million company who is looking for a firstjet to replace the company’s Cheyenne, Conquest or King Air turboprop. But, while it hasproven to be an immensely attractive alternative to a Conquest I or King Air 90, the CJ’ssmall six-place cabin presents a stumbling block to those looking to upgrade from largerbirds like the Conquest II or King Air 200. At the same time, the $5 million Bravo is moreairplane than many of these customers can afford or justify.

CJ2 vs CJ cabin comparisonEnter thejust-announced CitationJet CJ2. Starting with a CJ, Cessna stretched the cabin by 35inches to accommodate two additional seats and a big refreshment center, lengthened thetailcone 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 thehorizontal tail area by 15% to handle the wider CG envelope, and upgraded the engines tothe 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 andthe $5 million Citation Bravo. Operating costs are on a par with the CJ and substantiallylower than the Bravo.


Faster and higher

CJ2 in flightThe new FJ44-2C enginesand longer wing makes the CJ2 an honest-to-god high-altitude airplane. Cabinpressurization 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, butotherwise share the identical engine core of the CJ’s FJ44-1As. Hydro-mechanical fuelcontrol 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 doa respectable 385 knots at FL410. This makes it 20 knots faster than the CJ at FL330 and awhopping 38 knots faster at FL410. At max gross, it takes the CJ2 just 27 minutes to climbto FL410. Fuel efficiency of the CJ2 is better than a King Air C90B, and matches that ofthe original CJ despite the fact that the CJ2 flies faster and higher. Cruising at amiserly 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 21TheCJ2’s flight deck features a state-of-the-art Collins ProLine 21 suite. On the captain’sside are two large flat-panel active-matrix color LCD displays, normally configured as aPrimary 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 displaysengine instrumentation and a moving map navigation display. In the case of a displayfailure, however, the surviving screen will show a reversionary display combining enginedata, 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, anda radio altimeter round out the standard avionics suite. (CVR, TCAS, GPWS, and RVSMcertification are optional extras.)

The black boxes buried in the avionics bay are no less impressive. The Collins ProLine21 system features a completely solid-state altitude/heading reference system (AHRS) withno 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 weatherradar system uses a phased-array antenna that also has no moving parts. The CJ2 is asterling example of just how far avionics for low-end turbine-powered aircraft have comein the last few years.

Stretched cabin

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

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

The stretched CJ2 tailcone accommodates a huge 50 cubic foot baggage compartmentplacarded for 600 lbs. and big enough to handle 85-inch skis. The nose baggage compartmentbrings 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 underthe less-demanding requirements of FAR Part 23. Maximum landing weight is 11,500 lbs., andbasic operating weight is 7,825 lbs. FAR Part 25 balanced field length at sea level andISA conditions is less than 3,500 feet. Landing distance is 2,765 feet at a Vref of just101 KIAS.

Price and delivery

CJ2 dimensions (side view)Cessna expectsthe CJ2 prototype to make its first flight in mid-1999 and to earn its FAA TypeCertificate in mid-2000. First customer delivery is planned for early in 2001. If youorder 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 yearsof production (virtually all from current CJ owners), making the CJ2 introduction Cessna’smost successful new product introduction in the company’s history.

CitationJet gets new avionics to become the CJ1…

CJ1 logoCessna has no plans to discontinuethe 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 ProLine21 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 grossweight increase of 200 lbs. relative to the CJ. BOW goes up just 55 pounds, providing a145-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 comein around $3.5 million, plus or minus. Cessna presently projects a production rate ofabout 60 CJ1s and 45 CJ2s per year.

…while Ultra gets re-engined to become Ultra Encore

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

Ultra Encore in flightThe Encore’s newPW535A 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 tomention a generous 5,000 hour TBO. The increased thrust allows a 330 lb. increase inMGTOW, 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 otherminor weight savings, the bottom line is a full 1,000 lb. increase in full fuel payload.

Ultra Encore top viewThe smaller fuel tanksprovide 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 andreplace it with heated wing leading edge anti-ice protection.

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

Ultra Encore cutawayOther improvementsinclude a new digital pressurization controller, an improved electrical J-box thatsimplifies maintainability, and a combination of lower-profile seats and a redesignedcabin overhead panel that together provide two inches more headroom in the passengercabin.

The avionics suite remains a three-tube Honeywell Primus 1000 system with 8×10-inchpilot and copilot PFDs and a single center-mounted MFD. Radios include 8.33 kHz channelspacing 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 everythingexcept TCAS and EGPWS.

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

Citation Sovereign logoCessna’s mostambitious new product announcement at NBAA 1998 is the introduction of an entirely newdesign to fill the “mid-size” gap between Cessna’s traditional 500-series modelswhich 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 allrather “mature” designs introduced more than 15 years ago, and there are nearly1,800 of these aircraft flying. Cessna concluded that the market was ripe for a newclean-sheet design in this category.

Sovereign cutaway viewThe result is theall-new Cessna Sovereign, a $12 million aircraft with an extraordinarily spacious10-passenger stand-up cabin, 2,500 NM coast-to-coast IFR range, extraordinary short-fieldcapability, and the latest engine and avionics technology. When first customer deliveriesbegin in the third quarter of 2002, the Sovereign will be the largest and longest-leggedCitation ever built.

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

Sovereign in flightThe Sovereign will bepowered by Pratt & Whitney PW306C engines, each providing 5,686 lbs. of thrustflat-rated to ISA+15C. These engines use dual FADECs, wide-sweep fans, and forced exhaustmixers to provide state-of-the-art fuel efficiency. TBO is 6,000 hours, with one3,000-hour hot section inspection. Fuel heaters eliminate the need for Prist.

Avionics will be provided by Honeywell, and include four 8×10-inch flat panel colordisplays, providing PFDs and MFDs for both pilot and copilot. Engine instruments aredisplayed on the MFDs. The $11,995,000 price includes a standard 10-place interior andfull-up avionics including TCAS and EGPWS. Add CVR, FDR, and a few other doodads, and thetypical Sovereign will probably go out the door for around $12.7 million. Cessna isconfident 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 tolook elsewhere unless they’re in the market for an intercontinental machine in theChallenger or Gulfstream class.

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