NBAA Convention News

Sovereign on track to fly early next year

 - June 20, 2008, 5:11 AM

Wichita-based Cessna Aircraft is continuing to make progress on the development and certification activities of its super-midsize Citation Sovereign. Announced at the 1998 NBAA Convention, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306C-powered Sovereign will have an NBAA IFR range exceeding 2,500 nm (two crew and eight passengers), an mtow of 29,250 lb, a 454-kt max cruise speed and a 47,000-ft ceiling.

According to Sovereign program manager Brad Thress, the cyclic fatigue test article (S/N E-9) last month was shipped to the test facility, where it will undergo a 60,000-cycle test over the course of two years. He said the structure static strength test article’s (S/N E-3) fuselage section was completed last month and the wing was expected to be mated by press time. E-3 will be used for airframe fatigue and load-limit testing.

Thress said the first flying prototype is also coming along and will be completed in time for a scheduled maiden flight early next year. As of mid-September, the three fuselage sections were mated, the first of two wire bundles were started, the landing gear assembly was being built and the wing was in the vertical tool. The wing was slated to be completed early this month, with wing mating expected to occur later this month.

Three aircraft will participate in the certification program, which is planned to conclude in late 2003, Thress said. The prototype will be joined by the first production-conforming airframe next summer, and the third flying article will come online in early 2003.

To speed the certification process, Thress noted, individual systems testing has taken place at earlier stages of the aircraft’s development. For example, the thrust-reverser cycle test was completed August 21, several months before the aircraft will make its first landing. At press time, the landing gear was more than halfway through certification, and the wheels and brakes have already received TSO approval. The environmental system and many other systems have also been fully tested.

The Sovereign is Cessna’s first aircraft to use its newly developed Maintenance Steering Group (MSG). “The goal of MSG is to develop an aircraft maintenance program for the Sovereign through fault analysis. MSG will result in savings in scheduled maintenance cost,” Thress said. So far, the MSG committee is midway through its significant items list.

In the cockpit, the super-midsize business jet will feature the Honeywell Primus Epic CDS (control display system), which will come standard with four LCD screens. The cockpit design is now finished, and Thress said the company employed a team of pilots, customers and FAA representatives to assist in the cockpit design and further accelerate the certification process.

First customer deliveries of the Sovereign are expected to start in early 2004. The new business jet retails for $12.695 million, and Cessna claims firm orders for more than 78 airplanes.