The Cessna Citation X has long been the fastest way to get from A to B in the civil world, until Gulfstream came along with the G650, which is set to displace the X. However, Cessna isn’t going to be caught napping and unwrapped its plans to fight back at this year’s NBAA. Phil Nasskau reports
Cessna chief Jack Pelton has always insisted that the company will have the fastest business jet and with the upgraded and revamped Citation Ten (in a bid for modernisation it has been renamed this way now too) seeks to hold off the attack from Gulfstream for the priced mantle.
Although a speed figure hasn’t been given, Pelton was adamant that “the Citation Ten is the fastest production business jet, and it will continue to be the fastest production business jet,” he said at the show. He did say that a figure would be declared after Gulfstream has certified the G650.
The improvements include a new avionics suite from Garmin with the G5000 – the first Part 25 avionics platform from Garmin – improved Rolls-Royce engines, a Cessna exclusive cabin management system and more cabin space.
“The launch of the Citation Ten is an example of our commitment, repeated throughout the recent downturn, to new product development, and it’s a signal that we intend to do what we need to do to maintain a general aviation industry leadership position,” said Pelton. “We’ve teamed with Garmin and with Rolls-Royce to conceive an almost perfect combination of speed, performance, ease of operation and productivity in one airframe – the Citation Ten.” First flight is slated for 2011 with certification and deliveries expected in 2013.
“We are particularly excited about the advanced technology incorporated throughout the aircraft and the improved performance characteristics that give our customers a more efficient and a more productive aircraft, and aircraft cabin that are designed to meet evolving requirements in business travel,” Pelton said.
The aircraft is set to benefit from a range increase of 211nm (391km) at high speed cruise as well as a 214lb (97kg) increase in maximum payload and an improved, but as yet undisclosed, faster direct climb to FL450.
The new Ten will utilise a pair of Rolls-Royce AE 3007C2 turbofans with 7,034lb thrust each. According to Cessna, this marks an improvement of 4% for take-off thrust, 9% better climb performance, 7% improvement in cruise thrust and 1.4% reduction in specific fuel consumption. The engines are slated for certification in 2013.
And the aircraft will feature winglets for more efficient performance, a new electrical system, dual lithium-ion batteries, a redesigned cabin and improved connectivity and productivity tools.
Meanwhile, in the cockpit, Cessna will to continue its work with Garmin, as well as giving the cockpit a new design. At its centre is the G5000 with three 14-in LCD primary and multifunction displays with four touch screen control panels. Standard features will include TCAS II with Change 7.1, synthetic vision, electronic charts, Garmin’s SafeTaxi, dual flight management system with WAAS, LPV and RNP 0.3 SAAAR capability, a solid-state weather radar with turbulence detection and vertical scan ability, integrated TAWS, ADS-B Out, Link 2000+ data link and a pilot-vehicle touch screen interface. Additionally as options the company will offer satellite weather and an ICAO Type 1A flight data recorder.
According to Garmin, like its other products, the G5000 features an open architecture that will allow the addition of “significant capabilities” to the system. It also said that quite often this would be possible without the need for additional hardware.
The avionics also give the Ten a three-axis, fully digital, dual channel, fail passive autopilot system, and the ability to have auto throttle. Approval for the avionics suite is expected in 2012.
“We have a very successful relationship with Garmin, a company recently ranked by aviation professionals as having the best avionics customer support in the industry in a prestigious third-party survey,” said Pelton. “The level of reliability and integration and the ease of use of the G5000 are going to be unprecedented and will give Citation Ten owners a new level of operability.”
While for the passengers, the fuselage has been stretched by 15in along with what the manufacturer says will be the most advanced cabin in the industry. The airframer has teamed up with Dallas-based Heads Up Technologies to develop an “intelligent” Cabin Management System (CMS). The cabin will integrate electrical systems, avionics and communications through a scalable fiber optic backbone with an “intuitive” touch screen control system for the “ultimate connectivity experience”.
The company said by using fiber optics it can reduce aircraft weight and also provide sufficient bandwidth for future growth. It said that a fiber optic backbone weighs 1/10th of the typical copper cable system.
Cessna’s CMS will include touch screen controllers for each passenger seat to control audio (naturally it is compatible with iPods and the like), video, interactive moving map, cabin temperature, lights, window shades and cabin diagnostics.
Alongside the cabin controls each cabin arrangement has 110 or 220 volt outlets, as well as several USB/device inputs. As options the company has available high-speed internet, satellite radio and cabin Wi-Fi.
It is set to include a trip computer which will feature an interactive moving map with a global database, with standard features like flight data displays and location indicator, and can offer access to points of interest information too.
Middle East prospects for the Citation Ten
According to Cessna Vice President International Sales, Trevor Esling, “business is getting much better” as the company is seeing a big improvement over 2009. “We’re talking to people about our new products, people in general are starting to fly more and used aircraft prices are becoming more stable, even though there are still quite a lot available,” he said.
Key for Esling though is waiting for market stability to return, which he says is happening albeit at a very slow pace. “It was a case that, before [the financial crisis], the UAE was really pulling the Middle Eastern market along, but with everything that’s happened there, it has been hit hard,” he said. “There have been repossessions and missed finance payments. Now there are just too many aircraft and we need to get the supply and demand equilibrium back.”
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom in the region with Egypt representing its strongest market at present. Esling attributes this to a relatively robust economy and that further west along North Africa the company is also seeing sales success with new aircraft.
A key market that Cessna really wants to get into is Saudi Arabia, but Esling admits that this isn’t easy because “we are maybe a little handicapped by not having the large cabin offering. However, the X/Ten can still do Riyadh to London non-stop and nothing can do it faster,” he said. “Some people are now looking more at speed than cabin space.”
He admits that the biggest challenge is with the number of used aircraft. He said: “You can buy a brand new Citation X for $18 million, but you can get a much larger used wide body for probably the same price. What are you going to get?”
For Esling the key is a reduction in the number of used aircraft available, as well as a return to the traditional market in terms of aircraft like the Sovereign, which has previously sold well in the region.
The company wants to see more sales of light jets too, albeit that one small hindrance is the lack of an APU. However, Esling is not put off by the region’s typical shunning of smaller aircraft. “It’s a process of education, of course the region isn’t typically a light jet region, but every mature market uses them for a reason,” he said.
Looking forward for the region, Esling explained that, at present, the two servicing facilities are adequate, “it would be nice to have one in the UAE”. He cited the fact that, not only are there are a good number of aircraft there, but there’s a lot of through traffic too. Typically Cessna looks to have around 60 aircraft in region before exploring servicing options, “as then it begins to make sense to invest”, said Esling.