September Aircraft Highlight - The Cessna Citation Family- Part 1

Quick, name the most popular line of business jets.

The CitationJet CJ4 entered service in 2010.

The CitationJet CJ4 entered service in 2010.

Almost half of all private jets on the market today come from one company, Textron Aviation, and its popular Cessna Citation brand. Well over 7,000 Citations have been delivered since their debut on the market in September, 1971. No other business jet family offers solutions in every category ranging from the smallest Very Light Jets, all the way up to the manufacturer’s recent foray into Heavy Jets.

Since 2014 Cessna is no longer a separate company, but a brand of American aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies firm, Textron. Other Textron subsidiaries include Arctic Cat (makers of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles) and Bell Helicopter. Textron Aviation also produces the Cessna Caravan single engine turboprop and the twin engine Beechcraft King Air turboprop business aircraft after that line was acquired from Beechcraft and Raytheon. Textron also supports the once-produced Hawker business jet line.

Part of the challenge in describing the Cessna Citation line stems from the fact that there have been so many models over the years, with some being upgrades of earlier versions rather than clean sheet designs. We’ll try to make some sense of it all here. For more information please consult our detailed guide.

The Cessna Citation Light Jet Lineup

Cessna Citation I, the original Citation.

Cessna Citation I, the original Citation.

Cessna Citation Encore, which began flying in 2000.

Cessna Citation Encore, which began flying in 2000.

Citation I/ II

The first Cessna Citation business jet was the Citation I, or Cessna model 500. Development began in the late 1960s on a light twin-engine jet capable of operating from convenient smaller airports not served by the airlines. With seating for 5 passengers what became the Citation I is a nimble little aircraft capable of cruising at over 400 miles per hour at altitudes up to 41,000 feet. The aircraft was later stretched and evolved into the Citation II/ Bravo, with seating for up to 8. Later, with range improvements the aircraft evolved into the Citation V/ Ultra and finally the Citation Encore. The latter also introduced a slightly taller cabin of 4.8 feet. The Bravo, Ultra, and Encore are hard to tell apart from the outside but have various refinements to provide more cabin comfort, range, and newer cockpit technologies inside. They all have a V-tail design in common (the horizontal stabilizer is mounted near the base of the tail).

The Citation M2 is currently the line’s entry level jet and has been flying since 2013.

The Citation M2 is currently the line’s entry level jet and has been flying since 2013.

CJ4 interior.

CJ4 interior.

CitationJet Line

In the early 1990s the line was re-developed and newest variants are known as the CitationJet (“CJ” for short). Each CJ is distinguishable by its T-tail design (the horizontal stabilizer is mounted at the top of the tail). These aircraft feature advancements over their predecessors and are named CJ1 (max 6 passengers) through CJ4 (max 7 passengers). The Citation M2 is the newest variant of the CJ1, which is no longer in production.

The Citation Mustang, the smallest Citation model, was produced from 2006 to 2017. With seating for 4 passengers (max 5) the aircraft is limited to just over 800 miles at full passenger capacity (and optimal flying conditions). On the other hand, the largest of the light CitationJets currently in production, the CJ4 can travel over 1,900 miles.

The Mustang, CJ1 and M2 designs are widely referred to as Very Light Jets due to their weight class and overall size.

In Part 2 of our exploration of the Citation family we’ll take a look at the mid and super-midsize line of business jets including the Citation III, Excel, X, Sovereign, Latitude and new Longitude.

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