First Mustang arrives in Europe

 - September 26, 2007, 10:41 AM

Cessna’s Citation Mustang entered service in Europe earlier this month when British-based entrepreneur Jane Howell arrived at the London-area Farnborough Airport on September 5, having flown the new entry-level jet across the Atlantic from Wichita. The delivery entailed 14 hours of flying and three refueling stops, but for the owner-pilot it was the trip of a lifetime.

Howell is basing her N-registered Mustang at Milan Linate Airport, where authorized Citation service center Centro Tecnico Aeronautico will support it. She will fly it herself, single-pilot, on frequent personal and business trips within Europe. Many of these flights will be between her three homes in the UK, Austria and Italy. She expects to log about 150 hours a year.

According to Trevor Esling, Cessna v-p for international sales, owner-pilots and privately owned companies account for about half of the European customer base for the Mustang. The jet has also proved popular with charter operators.

The next few months will see more Mustangs delivered in Europe, with the region accounting for more than 140 of the 350 aircraft on order. Cessna has also made some sales in the Middle East and expects to see further strong demand from the economically vibrant Arabian Gulf states, where customers appear to be breaking out of the historical preference for large-cabin aircraft.

Beginning next month, Esling’s UK-based sales team will have its own Mustang demonstrator available to show international clients. “We just can’t get delivery slots fast enough for this aircraft,” he told AIN. Cessna is set to deliver 44 Mustangs this year (out of total output of 380 Citations); this number will increase to 100 Mustangs next year (out of a total of 470 Citations) and 150 Mustangs in 2009.

The first Mustang built to the type certification requirements of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will be delivered to a German client this month.
Deliveries are also pending for customers in Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and several Eastern European countries.

The aircraft earned EASA certification in May, having achieved full U.S. approval earlier this year. Cessna is applying to have the Mustang cleared for the 5.5-degree steep approach at London City Airport.

By July, a Mustang full flight simulator will be available in the FlightSafety International (FSI) Learning Center at Farnborough. The installation of this unit has been delayed by the need to meet demand for pilot training in the U.S. Howell earned her type rating with FSI in Wichita and is being supported by the company’s pilot mentor program to transition from the turboprop and piston aircraft that she has been flying for the past 20 years.

The $2.7 million Mustang seems especially good value for European customers, who benefit from the strength of their currencies against the U.S. dollar. Esling said that the jet’s short-field performance is well suited to providing access to smaller airports in Europe and avoiding congestion and high charges at the larger gateways.

Also present at the first delivery in Europe–made four months after the first hand-over in the U.S.–was Mark Wilson, chief executive of the British Business and General Aviation Association. He said that the group had studied the possible impact of the new generation of light jets in Europe and concluded that they promise to greatly expand business aviation throughout the continent. 

Mustang Eases Owner-Pilot into Jet Set

Jane Howell is the type of customer Mustang sales executives dream about. She started flying about 20 years ago and since then has built a successful interior design and construction business, which she sold in 2001 to make more time for herself and her family.

Having progressed through a succession of piston- and turboprop-powered aircraft–most recently a Piper Cheyenne–Howell has had a hankering to join the jet set for some time but never thought the right product would come along. She told AIN she needed something smaller than even the Citation CJ1.

The advent of the very light jet was just what Howell had been waiting for. First she considered the Eclipse 500. “I didn’t go through with this because I was worried about their plan for the avionics, and I was concerned about whether the company would be there to support the product after a few years,” she explained.

“I really wanted a lot of reliability and help from the cockpit systems because I am going to be flying this first jet as a single pilot,” she continued, adding that Cessna’s support network was a major factor in her choice too.

But what about the Mustang’s supposedly game-changing low operating costs? Howell looked blank when quizzed about the claimed $700-an-hour direct operating costs and confessed, “I just fell in love with the aircraft and didn’t think to ask how much it would cost to operate.”

“It was amazing experience flying it back from America,” Howell went on. “I’ve done two previous transatlantic flights: the first was utterly terrifying and the second very worrying; in the Mustang it was incredibly easy and I could get right above the bad weather.”

Howell said that earning her first jet rating with FlightSafety International in Wichita was tough at first but that the transition had gone “remarkably well, largely due to all the help you get from the avionics.” As of the delivery date, she had logged 21 of the 25 pilot mentoring flight hours she will complete with FSI as part of her training package. The amount of mentoring required is based on an assessment of each pilot’s flying background.