New Citations Tackle Embraer Threat

 - November 1, 2011, 9:00 AM
The new Citation Latitude essentially mates a new, standup fuselage and Garmin G5000 cockpit with Sovereign wings and empennage.

Cessna came out swinging against the Embraer challenge in late September and at the NBAA Convention last month, unveiling two additional Citations (with varying degrees of freshness) to confront two of the Brazilian manufacturer’s recent clean-sheet offerings.

 The Sovereign-based Citation Latitude takes on the midsize Legacy 450, and the M2–a rejuvenated Citation CJ1+–confronts the Phenom 100. Both projects represent an opening gambit by new Cessna CEO Scott Ernest, who takes the helm of the iconic Wichita airframer at a time when all eyes are on how it will answer the Embraer threat. Both new Cessnas enter segments of the business-jet market that are currently particularly depressed, and the company is betting that the picture will have improved by the time the new projects are certified and ready for delivery.

The more significant of the two projects is the Citation 680A Latitude, which busts out of a fuselage cross-section introduced by the Citation III almost 30 years ago. The Latitude development schedule envisions first flight in mid-2014, FAA approval in mid-2015 and entry into service in the second half of 2015, followed by EASA certification in the first half of 2016.

At first blush the new airplane looks like a Sovereign, but the interior reveals a Garmin cockpit, 72-inch standup headroom in a flat-floor cabin and bigger windows higher up the fuselage for a less hunched view of the world; outside, sleeker nose lofting, curved windshield panels and subtle 787-style wingtip treatment distinguish the new airplane. With a list price of $14.995 million (2011 $), the Latitude sits between the $12.295 million XLS+ and $16.995 million Sovereign. “We will offer initial [Latitude] buyers a $1 million discount but we aren’t saying how many of those initial buyers will get that,” said a Cessna spokesman.

Powered by a pair of P&WC PW306D turbofans each developing 5,700 pounds of thrust, the Latitude will have a full-fuel payload of 1,000 pounds, according to Cessna, and with max fuel it will take off in 3,900 feet (sea level, ISA, dry runway). The new Citation will climb direct to its 45,000-foot ceiling, and time to FL430 will be 23 minutes. Max speed at FL350 will be 442 knots true, Mmo Mach 0.80 and max range (NBAA IFR with four passengers, 200-nm alternate) 2,000 nm.

Along with its 72-inch aisle height and flat floor, the passenger cabin will stretch more than 16 feet, but the 100 cubic feet of baggage stowage (same as the Sovereign’s) is external and unpressurized. The Latitude’s airstair entry door will be 31 inches wide and actuated electrically, with no cables, and it will be more easily rigged than on other Citations for consistency of installation and operation–an early example, says project manager Joe Hepburn, of Cessna’s emphasis on better manufacturing. Standard seating accommodates nine passengers in a single-club arrangement with a forward two-place side-mounted couch facing the door. The six pedestal seats track forward and aft seven inches and laterally four inches on the seat base, with 180-degree swiveling.

Cessna has done its language homework on the name Latitude, noting that in Mandarin Chinese the word means “freedom.” And as senior vice president of sales Mark Paolucci notes, tongue in cheek, a stretched Latitude to replace the Sovereign could be called the Longitude, or even Longertube. Such an airplane, however, would require a new wing to carry enough fuel for 3,000-nm range.

In the Latitude’s cockpit, the Garmin G5000 avionics will include three 14-inch-diagonal partitioned liquid-crystal displays, four touch control screens and a Garmin autopilot, much like the suite intended for the Citation Ten. (Even Cessna people are struggling with the self-imposed confusion of this name, calling the new airplane the “Tee-Ee-En,” so maybe there’s hope for a rethink before deliveries of the stretched Citation X begin in mid- to late 2013. The wings and engines are on the first aircraft, and Cessna expects to fly it this year.)

Flight controls on the Latitude remain fully mechanical (no fly-by-wire), which Cessna justifies by citing simplicity and swifter certification. Flaps will be electrically actuated, and a single hydraulic system will actuate the spoilers and speed brakes. The hydraulically actuated landing gear will provide dual nosewheels (with hydraulically powered steering) and dual mainwheels. A tailcone-mounted APU will be standard on the Latitude, providing bleed air and electrical power and approved for start and operation in flight. A single air-cycle machine will provide dual-zone cabin temperature control, and the ozone-filtered cabin altitude at FL450 will be 6,000 feet.

Mtow is pegged at “just over 28,000 pounds” but Cessna is not revealing its target empty weight yet.

The Latitude will incorporate Cessna’s new Clairity fiber-optic cabin management system, developed in collaboration with Heads Up Technologies and controlled by passengers through smartphone apps. “It’s a smartphone talking to a smart airplane,” notes Cindy Halsey, v-p of interior design, engineering and development. Clairity manages on-board entertainment, interactive moving maps, flight information and Internet browsing.

M2 Revives CJ1+

Clairity will also play on the other recently announced derivative addition to the Citation stable, the M2. Positioned between the Mustang and CJ2+, the new entrant revives the CJ1+ airframe but with a Garmin G3000 avionics suite, 1,965-pound-thrust Fadec Williams FJ44-1AP-21 engines, subtle winglets and, compared with its predecessor, higher-quality interior furnishings and greater speed. Perhaps more important, however, the M2 lops about $800,000 off what the CJ1+ cost when Cessna quit building that airplane earlier this year. Competing nose-to-nose with Embraer’s $3.91 million Phenom 100, the M2 carries a price tag of $4.195 million. According to M2 business manager Brian Rohloff, the cost savings stemmed mostly from switching to a Garmin suite (in place of the CJ1+’s Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21) and in negotiating with Williams on the price of the FJ44s. For certification and pilot type ratings, the M2 retains the type designation C525. Among the M2’s specs: max cruise speed, 400 knots; time to climb to 41,000 feet, 24 minutes; mtow, 10,700 pounds; mission fuel, 3,309 pounds; and full-fuel payload with one pilot, 500 pounds. Cessna said the prototype will fly in the first quarter of next year, followed by FAA certification in 2Q/13 and entry into service in 4Q/13.