Flying High at 50! CJP Marks the Citation’s Golden Anniversary – Part IV
by “Flight Levels” Editor Rob Finfrock
September 9, 2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of FAA type-certification for the Cessna Model 500 – better known as the first Citation jet aircraft, which Aviation International News recently noted “fundamentally changed [Cessna] from primarily a general aviation manufacturer to a business aviation one.”
In celebration of this momentous event, each 2021 edition of Flight Levels will spotlight a different Citation model series, based on information from multiple resources including CJP’s own Russ Meyer Citation Library.
Since the beginning of the year, we’ve covered the legacy Citation models, Cessna’s success in expanding into the midsize segment and the very popular Citation Mustang. In this edition, we’ll spotlight the most popular Citation model range with CJP Members: the single pilot-focused C525 CitationJet and its many impressive derivatives.
Part Four: The Owner/Pilot-Focused Model 525 Line
Recognizing a growing demand for owner-flown light jets and faced with rising prices for the Citation I line’s Pratt & Whitney JT15-D turbofans, in 1989 Cessna announced a completely “clean sheet” Citation developed around the capabilities of the lightweight Williams FJ44 turbofan engine.
The original Model 525 CitationJet offered a truly advanced mix of power, efficiency and passenger comfort, all in one of the easiest jet aircraft ever for a single pilot to operate. Cessna later built upon this impressive foundation with the Citation CJ1, a lightly-revised variant of the CJ platform featuring the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite, increased fuel capacity and a slightly higher maximum takeoff weight for improved efficiency and performance.
Combining all of the strengths of the original CJ1 with 21st century technology, in 2005 Cessna unveiled the Citation CJ1+ that featured new FADEC engines offering improved performance with lower operating costs, all in a package designed to be as simple to fly as possible while also optimized to carry four occupants at distances up to 1,300 nm.
In 2013, Cessna introduced the latest CitationJet/CJ1 variant, the Citation M2 (Model C25M, above). Replacing those earlier models and positioned as a larger and more capable entry point to the Citation lineup than the Model 510 Citation Mustang, the M2 features a redesigned interior with Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics, advanced in-cabin technology and cruising speeds of up to 400 knots.
Entering service in 2000 and utilizing more powerful variants of the FJ44, the Model 525A Citation CJ2 (above) offered a 33″ cabin stretch over the CJ1, a similar increase in wingspan and significant bumps in speed, range, maximum takeoff weight and maximum fuel weight. Improved aerodynamics and more powerful Williams engines combine to offer cruising speeds up to 30 knots faster than a CJ1, over longer distances than the earlier aircraft.
Introduced in 2006, the Citation CJ2+ continued the legacy of one of the most recognizable and well-regarded options in the owner-flown jet aircraft category. Similar to the “+” variant of the Citation CJ1, Cessna upgraded the CJ2+ with better performance from its FADEC-equipped turbofan engines, and improved avionics.
The CJ line grew even more with the 2005 introduction of the Model 525B Citation CJ3 (above.) Billed by Cessna as “the largest, fastest, most advanced aircraft of its kind,” the CJ3 featured a 2-foot fuselage stretch over the CJ2+ providing more room for passengers as well as approximately 150 nm additional range.
Many owners consider the Citation CJ3 to be the “right-sized” version of the CJ line, offering the best mix of capabilities, performance, efficiency and low operating costs. Cessna later added Garmin G3000-based avionics and other improvements to create the Citation CJ3+, introduced in 2014.
The largest, fastest and most capable Model 525 variant, the Citation CJ4 (Model 525C) features added speed, range and a 20-inch cabin stretch over CJ3, while incorporating the best features from other Citation programs. More powerful Williams FJ44-4 turbofans complemented a new, moderately-swept wing derived from the larger Citation Sovereign to offer as much as 2,100 nm of range, a short 3,400′ takeoff roll and a maximum cruising speed in excess of 450 KIAS.
Earlier this year, Textron Aviation unveiled the Citation CJ4 Gen 2 (above) offering “big jet” passenger amenities – such as eye-catching COOLVIEW skylights, upgraded seating and a wireless cabin management system providing instant control of lighting, window shades and cabin temperature – while maintaining the CJ line’s impressive single-pilot capabilities.
Next time, we’ll look at a few upcoming additions to the Citation range as well as some variants that never came to market.