Nearly three decades into the Cessna Citation CJ-series program, Textron Aviation has come up with a method to repair the Model 525’s main landing gear (MLG), and in November first introduced that option on the CJ3. Previously, if there was a defect found on a CJ3’s MLG, the owner/operator had no choice but to replace it.
“The reality of it was there was no path to repairability,” Kriya Shortt, Textron Aviation senior v-p of parts and programs, told AIN. “So there was no outside option. There was no option.” When the first CJ was introduced, there wasn’t enough data for the company to come in and have the margins to repair the MLG, according to a video Textron Aviation produced on the new capability. “And I would say it also stemmed really from the availability of testing at the time,” Shortt said.
But through customer feedback and collaboration between engineers at Textron Aviation’s Wichita factory, its aftermarket unit, and Mesa, Arizona-based subsidiary Able Aerospace, CJ3 customers now have an option that saves them between 40 and 45 percent of the cost of new landing gear, and also means less downtime for their airplane through an MLG rental program. “The idea that they’d have to go get a new component for what a customer might perceive as something very minute…was a real cost burden to those that it impacted,” she said. “That’s what really spurred us into looking at a potential solution for repairability.”
The engineering team came up with a repair solution for the CJ3 using Able’s machining and tooling capabilities. “That’s not to say it couldn’t have been done within the factory [but] this is the forte of what Able brings to the table,” Shortt explained. After coming up with a solution for the CJ3, engineers performed static and cyclic testing of the repair with up to five lifetimes—or 75,000 landings—of the gear’s life limit at its Wichita facilities.
Following FAA approval and a service information letter, Textron Aviation rolled out the repair option in early November. Shortt said she expects the repair solution to be extended next year to the CJ1/1+ and M2, followed by the CJ2/2+. As for larger Citations in the company’s product lineup, “They all have their unique certifications and so we will look at that,” she noted. “We’ll continue to look at each model to understand its unique situation and then any impact to a customer type of population.”
But the airframer will include an MLG repairability option for its two newest airplanes. “I’m…excited that we’re proactively developing this as part of the initial certification of the SkyCourier and Denali, so it’s not going to have to be done after the fact, meaning there won’t be an impact to the customer,” Shortt said.