Flying High at 50! CJP Marks the Citation’s Golden Anniversary – Part II
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.
Last time, we reviewed the original Model 500 Citation and its many variations. In this edition, we take a look at the expansion of the Citation line to the midsize and super-midsize categories.
Part Two: The Model 650, 750, 560XL, 680 and 700
Having established the Citation family’s owner-flown (and increasingly single pilot-friendly) bona fides over its first decade, Cessna next set its sights on the prestigious midsize segment offering larger cabins and intercontinental range, to be operated exclusively by two-person flight crews.
Its first high performance corporate jet, the Model 650 Citation III, was intended to emulate the largest and most luxurious corporate aircraft in a smaller package. Featuring an all-new fuselage with a T-tail empennage, upon introduction in 1983 the Citation III had the longest range and fastest overall cruise speed of any medium-cabin jet aircraft. Beginning with S/N 650-0207, Cessna streamlined production with the lighter and lower-cost Citation VI, which featured simplified avionics and cabin interior treatments.
Following the relatively low take rate for the Citation VI – just 39 examples were produced – Cessna went in the opposite direction with the 1992 Citation VII that featured an opulent cabin with better soundproofing, revised seating options and extensive wood highlights. Improved Honeywell TFE731-4R engines offered a maximum cruise speed just under 500 kts, as well as better performance out of “hot and high” airports.
Of course, luxury is nice… but everyone wants to go faster, and Cessna’s desire to produce the highest-performance civilian aircraft available resulted in the Model 750 Citation X. Originally intended to be the flagship for the Model 650 family, the Citation X’s unique wing, avionics package and pair of powerful Rolls-Royce AE 3007 turbofans resulted in an entirely new aircraft optimized for flying as high as 51,000′ at a maximum speed of Mach .92.
In 2013, Cessna revamped the Model 750 with a slightly-lengthened fuselage and swooping winglets, as well as an advanced Garmin G5000 avionics package featuring touchscreen controls and synthetic vision. Initially referred to as the “Citation Ten” during its development, the Citation X+ updated the Model 750 for the 21st century with a maximum cruise speed of Mach .935.
The Model 560XL Citation Excel mated a shortened version of the Citation X fuselage with a supercritical airfoil based on the Model 560 Citation V Ultra’s wing, and the Citation V empennage. The Citation Excel is able to take off on runways as short as 3,590 feet, all while offering more than 1,600 nm of range.
Unveiled in 2004, the Citation XLS built upon the successful Citation Excel with the introduction of Honeywell’s Primus 1000 EFIS avionics suite, as well as upgraded PW545B engines. Four years later, the Citation XLS+ brought full authority digital engine control (FADEC) for its PW545C turbofans, and a revised nose design similar to that found on the Citation X. The Citation XLS+ also features a four-screen Collins Pro Line 21 avionics system.
Announced at the 1998 NBAA convention, the Cessna Model 680 Citation Sovereign moved the Citation family into the emerging “super-midsize” category, providing passengers with the amenities typically seen in large cabin aircraft with the performance and efficiency of a midsize jet able to be flown from high-elevation airports.
In 2013, the Citation Sovereign+ replaced its predecessor in the Cessna lineup, sporting the Garmin G5000 avionics suite, an enhanced wing with small winglets (dubbed “swooplets”) and an entirely new cabin featuring Cessna’s Clairity cabin management system.
The 2011 introduction of the Model 680A Citation Latitude mated the Sovereign’s wing, twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D turbofans and cruciform tail to an all-new, stand-up circular fuselage with a flat floor cabin able to be pressurized to a 5,950-foot cabin altitude at the aircraft’s maximum operating altitude of 45,000 feet.
Cessna followed one year later with the Model 700 Longitude, sporting improvements from the canceled Citation Columbus program and the company’s largest aircraft to be certified thus far. Sharing a slightly-stretched version of the Citation Latitude’s fuselage cross-section with a new swept wing and T-tail, and powered by Honeywell HTF7000 turbofans, the Citation Longitude made its first flight on October 8, 2016 with certification obtained in September 2019.
Next time, we’ll return to the owner-flown heart of the Citation line with a spotlight on the Model 510 Citation Mustang.