Citation Jet Pilots Gather at Annual Confab

 - September 12, 2019, 11:01 AM
More than 130 Citations flew in to Colorado Springs for the latest meeting of the Citation Pilots Association. Textron Aviation called its light jets a core element of its product line.

The Citation Jet Pilots Association continues building on its success in attracting members and delivering safety information. At this year’s CJP annual convention, held at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, multiple records were broken, including registered attendees at 552, owner-members at 180, companions at 212, exhibitors 74, and more than 130 Citations flown to the event (including 124 at host FBO Cutter Aviation). “This was an amazing CJP annual convention,” said CJP CEO Andrew Broom.

At CJP 2019, a record number of pilots—62—received the Gold Standard Safety Award, up from 48 last year. The award recognizes members for going above and beyond minimum recurrent training and experience requirements, including flying more than 100 turbine hours in the past year, incorporating CJP Standard Operating Practices, either two 61.58 recurrent checks in a simulator or one sim check and six hours of dual instruction in a Citation or simulator, plus additional “broadening” training.

The CJP Association’s more than 1,150 members fly more than 750 Citations and wield significant influence on the light-jet Citation market, a fact that is apparent in the support that Textron Aviation provides as a sponsor and by sending its top executives to the convention. Textron Aviation president and CEO Ron Draper responded to a CJP member who wondered whether his fellow members might be able to aggregate hundreds of orders and help design the next light Citation.

Following the 2008 recession, Textron Aviation had to make some tough decisions and cut costs enormously. “At that time, we did not make the decision to invest heavily in the light jet,” Draper said. “I think you're going to see that change in the future. I’m not announcing anything and I'm not promising. There’s the light-jet market and then today with the addition of the King Air, that's the core of our business. The Latitude and Longitude are going to provide the financial returns that we need to then go back and invest in the future; in the core.”

Safety was, as always, a major topic of discussion at CJP 2019, especially in light of the high number of recent accidents involving Citations (but few, if any, of which appear to involve CJP members).

Textron Aviation senior safety investigator Peter Basile reviewed 2018 Citation accidents and the lessons learned relating to communication, weather, landing performance, personal minimums, situational awareness, stalls, and more. He candidly summarized an incident with a company Latitude during a proficiency training flight last November, where the nose gear failed to extend. The result was a service letter to fix a problem with the roller assembly that guides the nose gear doors on the gear trunnion, for the Latitude, Sovereign, and X models, illustrating how Textron Aviation responds quickly to problems discovered in the field. “If we find something specific to our product,” he said, “we make those fixes.”

The case study of a trim runaway in a CJ1 in 2003 served to illustrate the danger of failing to perform the emergency checklist, although luckily the pilot and passenger survived the off-airport ditching into a cove. “This was the one and only incident [like this] that we’ve had,” Basile said. Redesigning a printed circuit board that had a subtle failure eliminated the probability of this occurring again, but if the pilot had done the full checklist and pulled the trim circuit breaker, he would have been able to regain full control.

CJP introduced a new video in its “What Good Looks Like” video series, once again starring David Miller, a Mustang owner and chairman of the CJP Safety & Education Foundation, playing the clueless pilot. In this video, shot in a Mustang simulator, Miller was distracted by a conversation with his passenger “wife” about his “annoying sister-in-law,” while executing a vertical speed climb. Of course, it’s not hard to imagine what happened as the autopilot tried to maintain the climb and the Mustang slowed down and stalled. There are now 12 videos in the series, available for anyone to view for free on the CJP website.

In a real case discussed after the video, a CJ2+ pilot in the UK in 2013 stalled during a climb to FL430 in vertical speed mode, while trying to look something up on his iPad. The accident board’s animation of the resulting upset showed the CJ2+ rolling six times, pointing nearly vertically down, and pulling 4.8 g, which wrinkled the wings. Luckily, the pilot was able to land.

“We discourage vertical speed mode above 30,000 feet,” said Neal Singer, a designated pilot examiner and safety consultant who works closely with CJP. If pilots prefer not to use flight-level-change mode while climbing, because it is “too wavy,” he said, then simply use the autopilot’s pitch mode to climb.

At CJP 2019, the association introduced a new publication, the Citation Inflight Guide, which outlines best practices for any Citation pilot. CJP also publishes online its Standard Operating Practices series for all of the light Citations, organized by avionics types and also covering legacy Citations.