CJP 2022: ‘Owner to Owner’ Session Compares Benefits, Disadvantages of Various Citation Models

Although safety was the clear focus throughout Day One of the 2022 CJP Convention, the day ended on a more lighthearted – yet still informative – note with a new “Owner to Owner” session allowing pilots of various Citation models to espouse the virtues of their aircraft, while also candidly sharing their disadvantages.

Photo by Rob Finfrock

Photo by Rob Finfrock

“We are here primarily to learn from each other,” said session moderator, CJP Advocacy Committee member and Citation Mustang owner Bryan Currier. “This presentation is all about really learning from the mistakes of others so that we can avoid some of the same pitfalls.”

On cue, a slide popped up detailing the experiences of one David “Capt. Dave” Miller, CJP’s director of programs and safety education, who sold his second Citation Mustang a few years ago to move to a King Air. He (perhaps mistakenly so, in hindsight) even chronicled his thought process on the pages of an international aviation publication.

“‘Surely this would be cheaper than a jet,'” Currier laughed, quoting from Miller’s articles. “‘My capital investment would be less.’ ‘No monthly engine reserve,’ because PT6s overhaul themselves!”

After highlighting Miller’s progress through the stages of denial, anger, depression, bargaining and finally acceptance, Currier noted Capt. Dave ultimately returned to the Mustang family – a decision perhaps foretold by, “writing articles for Twin & Turbine about [his] King Air while still wearing [in his byline photo] a Citation Mustang hat!”

C510 Citation Mustang

Currier then moved to a summary of why he also chose the C510 Mustang, Cessna’s foray into the very-light jet segment. “It’s a very simple airplane,” he said. It’s essentially an all-electric airplane, it has FADEC and the G1000. It’s an overgrown 182 and they strapped a couple of hair dryers on the back.”

Textron Aviation photo

Textron Aviation photo

Features such as heated glass windshields and a huge cabin door are other advantages, while range, speed and lack of aftermarket parts support fall short compared to key competitors and other Citation models. The aircraft is also out of production, though Textron Aviation continues to support it.

Currier is confident he made the right decision for his mission. “I joke with [former CJP Chair and CJ3+ owner] Marc Dulude that of course he’s gonna knock the doors off me,” he said. “Of course I go so much slower, because I’m carrying an extra $6 million in the baggage compartment!”

C525 Citation M2

Next, CJP Member Walter Berry highlighted the advantages of his Citation M2, which he noted is the 21st airplane operated by his construction equipment company over 65 years. “Our typical mission is five to six people,” he said. “With the M2 you can carry up to eight people. Our typical mission is 300-700 miles so we don’t need long ranges.”

Photo by Rob Finfrock

Photo by Rob Finfrock

While the M2 is sometimes compared against the earlier CJ1 and even the Mustang in the Citation line, “its primary competitor is the [Embraer] Phenom 100,” Berry said. “[The Phenom] has a little less thrust – it’s kind of somewhere in between the Mustang and the M2 – and therefore it may be a little more efficient, but doesn’t have quite the same speed.”

Key disadvantages, Berry continued, is range similar to the Mustang (“it doesn’t have long legs”) and some systems eccentricities. “The [acrylic] windshield isn’t like the Mustang, where you turn it on and leave it alone, never worrying about again,” he said. “On the descent, turn on the defog and then warm up the windshield if you have a narrow dew point spread, because it will fog up.”

Like Currier, however, Berry believes he found the right aircraft for his needs. “Being in Wichita, we can get to all our locations nonstop,” he said. “Even with eight people we can get back from Atlanta.”

C525A Citation CJ2

Next up was CJP Safe to Land (sm) Subcommittee Lead Jonathan Bailey, who in 2017 moved up from the Cirrus SR22 and Cessna 421 to the CJ2 after considering a CJ1 and Phenom 100. “I love those planes, and they would have met our mission fine,” he said, “but we discovered [they] couldn’t make it out single-engine IMC from our most common [destination] of Minden, NV. It’s in the Carson Valley, behind the Sierras, [with] mountains all around.”

Photo by Stratton DV Imaging

Photo by Stratton DV Imaging

Acknowledging he took a slightly different path than most by moving straight from piston airplanes to a jet (“I developed a fantasy-based fear of propellers so I could justify skipping the whole turboprop phase”) Bailey noted he first put his CJ2 with a Part 135 operator and flew with their pilots for a year before pursuing his type-rating.

“I knew it was a big leap, and I didn’t want to go to my type rating and fail,” he added. “That worked out really well.”

While acquisition costs are appreciably lower than for newer Citations, disadvantages of the CJ2, Bailey continued, include older avionics (“it’s a high workload airplane. I fly single pilot all the time and you’re always on the throttles, watching the numbers”) and frequent squawks.

“I’ve had everything possible break on this airplane,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s a maintenance hog, but it is a 20 year-old airplane. It’s not the cheapest plane to own for maintenance and labor.”

C560 Citation V

While it’s true that older aircraft can cause occasional headaches, CJP Legacy Aircraft Subcommittee Lead Endre Holen made a convincing case that legacy airframes can also offer unmatched ‘bang for the buck.’

Photo by Rob Finfrock

Photo by Rob Finfrock

Holen used to operate a Citation 501 with the Sierra Industries Stallion conversion to Williams FJ44 engines. Although generally satisfied with that aircraft, its 1,200-nautical mile range proved problematic for his needs. “Once you start getting range, you want more range, right?” Holen said. “Everybody knows that.”

His search eventually led him to a Citation V with 3,200 hours on its airframe. “I imported it from Mexico, put in a new interior and paint job and new [Garmin] GTN650/750s,” Holen said, “and now I have a great airplane for less than one million dollars.”

Like Bailey’s CJ2, Holen noted the Citation V can be more workload-intensive than newer aircraft. “It’s pretty easy to fly single pilot, [but] you don’t have VNAV so the workload on departure and arrival is a little higher. And you don’t have fuel and V-speed planning integrated as we have in some of the newer jets, of course, so you got to do a manual calculator of the fuel flow and fuel onboard.”

Still, Holen is quick to express his love for the Citation V. “I can fly almost as fast and almost as high as someone else on this stage, but it’s like I have $7 million in the baggage compartment,” he quipped.

C525B Citation CJ3+

After being on the receiving end of such (friendly) barbs for nearly an hour,  former CJP Chair and Membership & Marketing Chair Marc Dulude finally had the opportunity to proclaim the virtues of his CJ3+. Although it was the priciest aircraft represented in the session, Dulude made a convincing case that “[Textron Aviation leader] Ron Draper’s favorite airplane” represents the pinnacle of the Citation lineup.

Textron Aviation photo of Marc Dulude's CJ3+

Textron Aviation photo of Marc Dulude’s CJ3+

In fact, Dulude came to that conclusion himself after conducting “a 69-page comparison” between it, the larger Citation CJ4 and the Phenom 300. “I have helped quite a few people get into a CJ3+ since, and I’m always happy to help anybody make a decision on the airplane,” Dulude added. “The CJ3+ is the greatest aircraft ever made. It’s pretty extraordinary.

“It will, I guarantee you, beat every single number in every book value that Textron has ever produced,” he continued. “I once took this airplane at ISA +19 up to flight level 450 to go across the North Atlantic, even though the performance table will say it’s impossible for the airplane to get there. It beats every number without fail.”

The aircraft is also to perform many flights nonstop that would require a fuel stop in other models, Dulude added. As for disadvantages, “the CJ4 is faster and the Phenom 300 is faster,” he admitted, “but when you look at the overall time to get places, it’s three, four minutes difference on a routine flight.”

While clearly a fan of the CJ3+, Dulude was quick to note his favorable experiences with other Citations as well. “I owned a Mustang and an M2, and I loved all those airplanes,” he said. “I won’t diss them at all [and] I’ve said repeatedly, if my needs changed, I’d go back to any of my Citations and I would be absolutely thrilled to do it.”