Citation CJ4 flies

 - May 30, 2008, 5:03 AM

Last month’s maiden flight of the Cessna Citation CJ4 prototype was “a rousing success,” according to the Wichita-based OEM. “I think ‘flawless’ was the term the pilots used,” said a Cessna spokesman. At press time, the aircraft had logged four more hours of flight time.

The airplane’s first flight departed May 5 from McConnell AFB in Wichita and lasted for two hours and 22 minutes before the twinjet landed at nearby Mid-Continent Airport. The crew conducted a series of maneuvers to evaluate the twinjet’s stability and control, in addition to initial systems evaluations, and achieved a sustained climb to 16,000 feet.

“It was an outstanding first flight,” said Cessna senior engineering test pilot Dan Morris, who flew the aircraft with engineering flight-test manager Dave Bonifield as copilot. “We tested quite a number of the systems on the aircraft, including the autopilot, and all performed well. The fadecs operated just as we expected and, along with the four displays of the Pro Line 21, this is a pilot-friendly aircraft.”

The first production aircraft, S/N 0001, will be used primarily for avionics and systems certification, while the second production aircraft will conduct function and reliability testing. These two production CJ4s will fly later this year, Cessna said. Type certification of the eight-seat jet is slated for the second half of next year, with customer deliveries scheduled to begin in early 2010.

Cessna expects the aircraft to have a maximum speed of 435 knots, a full-fuel payload of 1,000 pounds and a maximum payload of 2,100 pounds, compared with the CJ3’s maximum payload of 1,800 pounds. The CJ4 can take off from runways of just 3,300 feet and land on runways as short as 2,665 feet. It is powered by Williams International FJ44-4A electronically controlled (fadec) engines.

The manufacturer has taken orders for more than 150 CJ4s so far.