Cessna’s Newest Entry-level Light Jet Nears Certification
Cessna Aircraft is looking to beat back encroaching entry-level light jet competition with its new M2. But can a nearly 25-year-old fuselage design do the trick? The market is about to find out. The new Citation M2, a refreshed version of the company’s smallest Model 525–the CitationJet–is nearing certification. A demonstration model is on display here on the NBAA static line.
At the beginning of October, Cessna vice president Brad Thress told AIN that the company is completing certification test flying on the new $4.395 million M2 and expected certification within “a few weeks.” On September 30 Garmin provided the Wichita airframer with the final data load for the aircraft’s new Intrinzic cockpit featuring the G3000 touchscreen glass-panel avionics system. Cessna needed a few days to conform the data load to the aircraft and then planned several final days of test flying before submitting final certification reports to the FAA for approval. Thress said that task, combined with any delaying impact from the federal government shutdown that began October 1, made it unlikely that the M2 would be certified in time for this year’s NBAA convention.
Thress said the company already had built six production M2s at its Independence, Kan. plant and that they were “all flying out very cleanly.” The M2 adds winglets, the Intrinzic/Garmin avionics, a restyled cabin and cockpit and a pair of new Williams International FJ44-1AP-21 engines to the legacy CJ1+ airframe. Cessna said that production of the M2 is already sold out into 2015, but declined to provide specifics on the number of orders it has received.
The M2 is designed as a step-up aircraft for current Citation Mustang owners as well as giving Cessna a contemporary product offering to compete with the Embraer Phenom 100 and the HondaJet. The Mustang is equipped with a Garmin G1000 flight deck, which means that upgrading to the M2’s G3000-based avionics should be a smooth process. The key difference between the two systems is the G3000’s touchscreen controllers, which make operating the avionics much simpler and more intuitive and eliminate the need for separate FMS control-display units.
Citation I Replacement
The first Cessna Model 525 CitationJet was delivered in 1993. The aircraft was a replacement for, and a vast improvement over, the Citation I it replaced. That aircraft had brought Cessna into the civilian jet age and systematically gutted the business turboprop market in the 1970s and 1980s. Much of it was derived from the T-37A “Tweet” basic jet trainer Cessna had developed for the Air Force in the 1950s. But while the original Citation I sold well versus turboprops–nearly 700 were made between 1972 and 1985 when production ended–it came under fire for its thirsty fuel burn versus relatively slow (357 knots) top speed that bled off quickly at higher altitudes, lack of cabin headroom and aesthetic challenges including stodgy styling and a bulbous nose.
The CitationJet was designed to correct these deficiencies. It used part of the Citation I’s fuselage mated to a new nose and tail assembly, more aerodynamic wings, a pair of fuel efficient Williams FJ44 engines, new Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 glass-panel avionics and a redesigned cabin that provided better headroom from a trenched center aisle. Cessna shaved more than 1,400 pounds from the airplane, down to a maximum takeoff weight of 10,400 pounds, and range increased from 1,329 nm to 1,500 nm. More importantly, top cruise speed increased to 380 knots. Yet the CitationJet retained the Citation I’s chief attribute, excellent short-field performance. Balanced field length required for takeoff was only 2,960 feet, enabling the aircraft to use airports just about anywhere. The aircraft sold incredibly well, with more than 700 CJs and updated CJ1 and CJ1+ versions delivered over the course of an 18-year production run.
Platform for CJ Family
More importantly, it provided a platform for Cessna to offer an entire family of aircraft based on the same diameter fuselage tube: the CJ2, CJ3 and now the CJ4. Collectively, more than 1,000 of those derivative aircraft have been sold through the beginning of this year. They offer more range, speed and cabin space than the original CJ. When it comes to maximizing a fuselage, Cessna has few equals.
In 2003, Cessna unveiled an even smaller jet than the CJ: the Citation Mustang. That aircraft was aimed primarily at owner pilots flying turboprops and piston aircraft. Certification came three years later and, to date, more than 400 Mustangs have been delivered. It is one of Cessna’s most successful product launches of all time. That said, the Mustang embraced some of the historical deficiencies of that original Citation I so many years ago: With a top speed of 340 knots, it was slow compared to competing aircraft from Embraer and Honda, that, while more expensive, are faster. The HondaJet tops out at 420 knots. Cessna did not want to cede that niche to the competition and they also wanted a step-up product for Mustang owners.
So in 2011, Cessna announced plans for the M2. At first blush, the aircraft looks like a refreshed CJ1+, only with subtle winglets. The fuselage tube is the same and the overall appearance of the two aircraft have similarities. But under the skin, there is a lot new.
It begins with the new Williams FJ44-1AP-21 engines with full-authority digital engine controls that produce 1,965 pounds of thrust each (sea level, standard temperature) and have a 4,000-hour time between overhaul interval, or 10 to 14 years of average use. The more powerful engines allow the M2 to maintain maximum cruise speed through higher altitudes–all the way up to 39,000 feet.
Maximum Altitude 41,000
The FJ44-1AP-21is a 2.58:1 bypass, twin-spool design with three compression stages and three turbine stages and produces 1,965 pounds of takeoff thrust at sea level and is flat-rated up to 72 degrees F (22 C). According to information provided by Cessna, on ascent they burn 133 gallons per hour, and that declines during level cruise to 112 gallons per hour while pushing the jet to 400 knots or 460 mph. Fuel capacity is 494 gallons. Maximum range is 1,300 nm and payload with full fuel and one pilot is 500 pounds. The useful load is 3,809 pounds. Like all CJs and the Mustang, the M2 will be certified for single-pilot operations, and that pilot is getting a roomier and more ergonomic cockpit.
The M2’s restyled cockpit has more legroom and a shorter control pedestal for easier entry and egress to the pilot seats. Cessna’s Thress said the new Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics system will significantly improve the airplane’s reliability compared to its CJ1 progenitor with far longer mean times between unscheduled component removals. The avionics are designed to accommodate the newest and future air traffic control and navigation technology.
Standard features on the system include FMS with dual Waas-enabled GPS receivers, weather avoidance radar, terrain avoidance warning system (Taws-B), traffic collision and avoidance system (Tcas I), dual attitude heading reference system (AHRS), dual air data computers, Jeppesen ChartView, Garmin SafeTaxi and digital audio system. Options include Garmin synthetic-vision technology, Taw-A, SiriusXM satellite weather and radio, Tcas II, surface watch, cabin briefer, satphone and onboard Aircell Gogo Biz Wi-Fi.
The digital, dual-channel Garmin autopilot is fully integrated with the avionics and can Vnav descent profiles and automated takeoff/go-around procedures. The Intrinzic/G3000 system also can record and store maintenance data that can be reviewed on the cockpit multifunction display or downloaded via the Cessna Aircraft Recording System, which records useful data during the previous 100 flight hours in nonvolatile memory.
A variety of passenger cabin layouts and standard color/fabric schemes are available. The six standard color schemes include Pearl, Raffia, Mink, Citrus, Frost and Carbon. Passenger capacity is four to seven, if the co-pilot’s seat and belted potty are included. Otherwise, the M2 is a four- to five-passenger airplane. The seats have been redesigned to be slightly more ergonomic and have inboard armrests that retract into the seat backs when not in use, creating a nice clean appearance in the cabin.
There is LED lighting throughout and a pair of 110V AC plugs. The overall cabin cross section is 57 inches tall (if you count the trenched center aisle) and 58 inches wide; length is 11 feet. Forty-six cubic feet of baggage space is distributed between an aft hold, rear cabin closet, and small space in the nose and can collectively hold 725 pounds.
The standard configuration is a facing club-four arrangement with an optional single passenger, side-facing seat opposite the cabin entry door. The aft lavatory features a flushing toilet with optional closing door. For connectivity, the cabin is equipped with the new Heads Up Technologies-based Clarity cabin management system for passenger communications and entertainment, the same system in the new Sovereign and Citation X and other new Citations that are under development.
The M2 maintains the CJ heritage of good short runway performance; required runway for takeoff is less than 3,300 feet. With new engines and avionics, it should offer respectable competition in its class.
2014 Cessna M2 Specifications
Price: $4.395 million
Engines: (2) Williams International FJ44-1AP-21, 1,965 pounds of thrust each
Avionics: Garmin G3000
Height 57 inches
Width 58 inches
Length 11 feet
Baggage compartment: 46 cubic feet
Top cruise speed: 400 knots
Range: 1,300 nm
Fuel capacity: 494 U.S. gallons
Takeoff distance: 3,250 feet
Landing distance: 2,640 feet
Maximum altitude: 41,000 feet
Maximum takeoff weight: 10,700 pounds