Although not ready to call the market upticks of late a thawing of the business aviation marketplace, Cessna CEO Jack Pelton said he’s encouraged by a few recent signs that are trending positive.
“Financing is more readily available, used aircraft inventory is dropping and prices for used aircraft have increased for the first time in several quarters,” Pelton said. “Average daily utilization figures for the Citation fleet have stopped dropping and bookings for maintenance work are on the rise. Single-engine [airplane] retail sales have been particularly strong in recent weeks, which is usually a forerunner for the rest of the product line.”
Cessna took time at the NBAA Convention yesterday to bring customers up-to-date on a number of important product updates. It reported that results of extensive engineering flight testing on the new CJ4 have validated significant performance enhancements, including a maximum speed of 452 knots, a range of 1,963 nm with two crew and five passengers (NBAA IFR, 100-nm alternate) at max cruise and a direct climb to 45,000 feet in just 28 minutes at maximum takeoff weight.
The aircraft will also debut the new Williams International FJ44-4A electronically controlled engines and Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics with four displays. The avionics include dual keypads in the pedestal and an emergency descent mode feature in the autopilot, which automatically descends the airplane to a safe altitude after loss of pressurization or oxygen.
“We were able to maintain a full-fuel payload of more than 1,000 pounds,” said Mike Fuhrman, director of technical marketing. “That equates to about five passenges with full fuel.”
The standard eight-seat interior includes a single side-facing seat behind the cabinet aft of the copilot seat and a belted aft lavatory. Other interior features include the first application of Rockwell Collins’ Venue cabin management and entertainment system. Venue in the CJ4 includes three HD video monitors (each measuring 10.6 inches), a 100 gigabyte hard drive, XM radio and entertainment system/cabin management controllers at each seat location.
The CJ4’s higher-swept wing features new fully modulated speed brake panels instead of the previous CJ models’ full-up or -down speed brakes. There are no limits on speed brake operation. “They can be used at any altitude or airspeed,” Fuhrman said.
Pilots will find that the CJ4 dispenses with the traditional large Cessna trim wheel; the CJ4’s flight control surfaces are all electrically actuated via push buttons on the yoke and pedestal.
The latest CJ variant carries an mtow of 16,950 pounds and basic operating weight of 10,260 pounds. Fuel capacity is 5,810 pounds and max payload 2,100 pounds.
FAA certification of the CJ4 is planned to Part 23 commuter regulations by the end of the year, with deliveries beginning early next year. A CJ4 is scheduled to join the Cessna static display at Orlando Executive Airport today.
Cessna also introduced the new GreenTrak flight planning software for current production Citation operators, which uses a proprietary system to optimize flight profiles, not only for time and cost, but also for the lowest carbon footprint. The OEM plans to release GreenTrak as an upgrade option to its Cesnav program next year for all current production Citations.