Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of FAA type certification for the Cessna Citation 500, arguably creating the biggest-selling product line of business jets. It was on Sept. 9, 1971, that the FAA awarded the certification to the aircraft's Wichita airframer, launching a line of light, midsize, and super-midsize business jets for Textron Aviation that continues today.
Originally dubbed the FanJet 500 but later renamed the Citation, the twinjet was first delivered in January 1972 to American Airlines, which used the airplane for the development of its training program. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT15D-1 engines, the Citation 500 was initially certified for two pilots and up to seven passengers, with a 35,000-foot ceiling and Mach 0.70 cruise speed.
Included in the model's $695,000 price tag was ground and flight training at American’s flight training center in Fort Worth, and a three-year warranty on the airframe and one-year warranty on avionics.
Production of the airplane ended in 1985, with deliveries totaling 691. But the type’s legacy continues today with the Model 560XL (Citation XLS+), which is a direct-line variant of the Citation 500.
The type also served as the first of a family of Citations that now includes not only the XLS+ but the M2, CJ3+, CJ4 Gen 2, Latitude, and Longitude. In all, Textron Aviation has delivered 7,831 Citations that have amassed more than 40 million flight hours.