Cessna saddles up to build Citation Mustang

 - March 15, 2007, 7:44 AM

The six-seat Citation Mustang, Cessna’s newest addition to its stable of business jets, is starting to take shape. At press time, the Wichita manufacturer was busy building the Mustang prototype’s tooling, and more than 3,700 of the very light jet’s 5,000 detail parts had been fabricated. The $2.395 million Mustang is the company’s first clean-sheet aircraft design since it launched the Citation III in 1978.

This month Cessna will start putting the Mustang’s pieces together at its Pawnee facility in Wichita, with the goal of rolling out the prototype next spring and flying it by July. Three aircraft and two ground-test articles will participate in the flight-test program.

Major aircraft assemblies will be built at Cessna’s Wichita; Independence, Kan.; and Columbus, Ga. facilities, with the last contributing the wing assembly and empennage. Final assembly will take place in Independence, bucking the tradition of building Citations in Wichita.

Mustang program manager Russ Meyer III told AIN that Cessna decided to assemble the very light jet in Independence because of the plant’s capacity and the anticipated high build rate of the twinjet.

Cessna has been flight testing the Mustang’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F engine aboard a CitationJet testbed since April 27. Meyer explained, “We have an aggressive schedule for the aircraft, and some of the flight regimes can’t be tested aboard a larger engine testbed. [P&WC uses a Boeing 720 as an engine testbed.–Ed.] This includes engine tests at high angles of attack and low airspeeds.”

Cessna has logged 91 flight hours on the 1,350-pound-thrust engine, and P&WC is concurrently flight and bench testing several PW615F turbofans. Test-card items already checked off include engine operability in the Mustang flight regime, fan envelope expansion and air starts.

Meanwhile, progress on the Mustang’s Garmin G1000 avionics suite continues. Garmin was due to ship a G1000 hot bench to Cessna on August 31, and the autopilot test article is already in operation.

FAA, EASA and Brazilian certification of the 340-knot Mustang is slated for 2006. Cessna said it has firm orders for 229 of the very light jets, with the backlog extending to 2009 or beyond.