Cessna Returns To Setting Speed Records


After mostly remaining aloof from the record-setting side of aviation for over 70 years, Cessna appears to have returned to the fray-using the Mach 0.935 cruising speed of its recently certificated Citation X+ to set four city-to-city speed records in its weight class. Over a two-day period, the jet set speed records on four sequential flights: Wichita-Seattle, Seattle-Miami, Miami-Seattle and Seattle-Wichita. The 2375-nm Seattle-Miami leg was flown in 4:52, at a maximum airspeed of 537 knots and an average groundspeed of 486.2 knots. Receiving FAA certification last June, the Citation X+ has a maximum range of 3408 nm, seating for 12 passengers and a maximum operating altitude of 51,000 feet.

In the 1930s, Cessna regularly entered its aircraft in air races and set speed records, winning shelves full of trophies. The company president, Dwane Wallace, reportedly made payroll for the company at least once by winning an air race. After World War II, the company used its aircraft to set records only infrequently, although notably when it developed the original Citation X with its Mach 0.92 max cruising speed-which made it the world’s fastest civil aircraft. Eventually, it was pushed into second place by the Gulfstream G650, with a Mach 0.93 max cruise. Gulfstream aggressively used the G650 to set a number of speed records and it held the bizjet speed title, sometimes referred to as “the world’s fastest airplane not built with government money,” until Cessna upgraded the Citation X to the Citation X+. Ever since the original Citation X entered the market, it became apparent that some buyers insist on owning the fastest bizjet in the sky; speed apparently does matter. The industry is watching to see if Cessna uses the Citation X+ to set additional speed records.