NBAA Convention News

Latest CJ builds on lessons learned with CJ3

 - September 21, 2007, 6:41 AM

The latest member of the CitationJet family, the CJ4, is beginning to take shape on jigs and fixtures at Cessna’s headquarters in Wichita. “The first test airplane is in build status,” said Norm Baker, Citation CJ4 program manager. “We have a lot of parts and pieces coming together and are looking forward to those loading into our major assembly jigs.”

The CJ4 is the most powerful CitationJet and incorporates design features that will make it easier to maintain and more efficient to operate than its siblings, the company claims. An entirely new wing with a moderate taper will lift a fuselage that is two feet longer than the CJ3’s. FADEC-controlled Williams International FJ44-4A turbofans will deliver 3,400 pounds of thrust each, up from 2,780 pounds in the CJ3. The new wing and more powerful engines allow for a maximum payload of 2,100 pounds (300 pounds more than the CJ3’s) and a full-fuel payload of 1,000 pounds. The main cabin can be configured for seven or eight passengers, and like all the CitationJets, the CJ4 can be flown single-pilot.

Although the CJ4 is clearly a CitationJet, said Baker, “We have an all-new wing, which is going to take advantage of some of the things we’ve learned with the Sovereign.” This includes three upper speed- brake panels on each wing. The new wing enhances short-field performance, allowing takeoffs from 3,300-foot runways and landings on 2,665-foot runways. At the most efficient altitude, the CJ4 can cruise at 435 ktas, 18 knots faster than the CJ3. The CJ4 also features single-point refueling.

With the CJ4, Cessna engineers have focused on improved reliability, maintainability and serviceability, Baker said. “This one will set the bar for a Citation product. We are working on that very hard.” In the cockpit, the CJ4’s Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics system is fitted with four LCDs, one more than the Pro Line 21 system in the CJ3. The pilot interface has also been improved to “increase the intuitiveness of the front end of the airplane,” said Baker. “It’s a function of the Pro Line 21 system and how we’ve laid out the cockpit from a crew standpoint, where we’ve placed switches and what we’ve done with its operation. On the avionics systems, we’ve incorporated more of a menu-driven atmosphere that is intuitive and streamlined so that you more instinctively go to the right controllers for the right displays. That’s going to greatly reduce pilot workload.”

The maintainability improvements are a result of new diagnostic capabilities, using Cessna’s in-house-designed ship diagnostic system, which allows maintainers to download data after landing. The diagnostic system pulls data from aircraft systems and the engine’s FADEC.

Cessna will build three flying CJ4s for the FAA certification program and one each for static and fatigue testing on the ground, plus system test articles. First flight is expected during the first half of next year; certification and entry into service are scheduled for the first half of 2010. EASA certification should take place within a year of FAA certification, and Cessna engineers have taken EASA requirements into account from the launch of the program. Cessna has more than 120 orders for the $8 million CJ4, and the backlog now extends to 2014.

For Baker, running his first new airplane program at Cessna is an exciting challenge, he said. “You have to be quick on your feet and flexible and able to deal with things that come at you on a daily basis,” he said, “but it is very rewarding. Standing there at the first flight of your aircraft is a rewarding experience. Beyond that, to see the certification and to see the first customers fly away with the aircraft, it’s hard to describe.”