Textron Aviation's flight-test program for its Cessna Citation Longitude is nearly finished, with FAA certification expected soon afterward, the company reported on Monday at EBACE 2018. Flight testing will be concluded “within the next week,” said president and CEO Scott Ernest, and this will be followed by 30 days of completing documentation.
Ernest noted that work on the larger Hemisphere remains on hold pending Snecma's determination regarding the Silvercrest engine compressor issues that prompted Dassault to cancel its Falcon 5X, replacing it with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812D-powered 6X. "We'll see what progress Safran makes over the next year to year-and-a-half," said Ernest.
On Longitude progress, senior v-p of engineering Brad Thress said, “We’ve done nearly 3,000 flight hours on five aircraft. Three aircraft have completed their testing, and two will conclude this Friday. Number 4 is being prepared for function and reliability testing, which will be the last flight test activity.” He said some 200,000 pages of documentation would be examined by the FAA for certification.
“We’re in the home stretch now and eager to move one step closer to delivering this new Citation flagship jet to our excited inaugural customers around the globe,” said Thress. “This is the most robust certification process we’ve ever been required to conduct for a Citation, which means we will deliver an exceptionally verified, clean-sheet aircraft…that will revolutionize the super-midsize category with its low cabin altitude, class-leading legroom, and low decibel cabin sound levels that are half of its nearest competitor.”
The team used five aircraft and nearly 50 ground test articles to expedite testing, whereas previous certification programs featured three aircraft and fewer than 30 ground assets.
Earlier this year, the aircraft completed a 31,000-nm world tour, demonstrating its performance and reliability throughout a broad array of environments across 12 countries. During the tour, the Longitude made various stops throughout Europe, including customer visits in Sweden, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the U.K.
The Longitude features a Garmin G5000 flight deck and Fadec-equipped Honeywell HTF7700L turbofan engines with fully integrated autothrottles. It also has Garmin’s new head-up display—the GHD 2100—and enhanced vision capability, for “eyes-up flying.” The Longitude also has the longest maintenance intervals in its class by some way, at 800 hours or 18 months, “expected to make it the most cost-effective aircraft to operate in its category,” said Thress.
Textron Aviation has seven aircraft this week at the EBACE static display: the Cessna Citation Longitude, Latitude, CJ4, CJ3+, and M2; Beechcraft King Air 350i; and Cessna Grand Caravan EX turboprop single.
Ernest expressed confidence in the market for Textron Aviation's products. "In Asia, I feel like we are making some real progress. We've already sold more aircraft in Asia this year in the first months than [we did] in the whole of last year—to the Philippines, India, Thailand. In Latin America, we're seeing a good uptick with Mexico and South America—probably our biggest growth area in terms of sales growth," with more activity outside Brazil, he said.
In North America, Ernest said "bonus appreciation has really helped. The used market has completely flipped in the last three months—it's really hard to find a good used Citation now. Currently, we have no inventory of good used planes that are 10 years old or less—a complete change from last year when we had 40 to 50 airplanes."
He concluded that Europe is "on a trajectory that is larger than last year. Overall, the market is starting to get better—it's about time. We're pleasantly surprised."