New Cessna CEO Scott Ernest has taken the helm at a time when all eyes are on how the iconic Wichita airframer confronts the Embraer threat. Last month the company announced a revitalized CJ1+, known as the M2, to compete with, among others, the Phenom 100. More significantly, at NBAA 2011 in Las Vegas this morning, Cessna took the wraps off a long-overdue enlargement of its midsize cabin in an addition to the Citation line called the 680A Latitude.
Cessna is betting that the currently depressed market for most business jets, other than the large-cabin, ultra-long-range segment, will turn around in sync with the Latitude’s development and certification schedule, which 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. Cessna says the Embraer Legacy 450 is squarely in the 680A’s sights.
At first blush the new airplane looks like a Sovereign, but the interior reveals a Garmin cockpit, 72-inch stand-up headroom in a flat-floor cabin and bigger windows higher up the fuselage for a less hunched view of the world. When viewed from the 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 Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D turbofans, capable of delivering 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 2,000 nm (NBAA IFR with four passengers, 200-nm alternate).
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 Mark Paolucci, Cessna senior vice president of sales, notes, tongue in cheek, a stretched Latitude to replace the Sovereign could be called the “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.
Maximum takeoff weight is pegged at “just over 28,000 pounds,” but Cessna is not revealing its target empty weight yet.
Like its recently introduced M2 stablemate, 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,” noted Cindy Halsey, v-p of interior design, engineering and development. Clairity manages on-board entertainment, interactive moving maps, flight information and Internet browsing.