Flying High at 50! CJP Marks the Citation’s Golden Anniversary – Part III
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 and Cessna’s success in expanding into the midsize segment and beyond. Over the next two issues, we’ll spotlight the single pilot-capable aircraft owned and operated by the majority of CJP members, beginning with Cessna’s very impressive entry into the once-burgeoning very light jet (VLJ) segment.
Part Three: The Model 510 Citation Mustang
It wasn’t all that long ago that VLJs were anticipated by many to revolutionize the air taxi and owner-flown turbine segments. Cessna was the first major general aviation OEM to jump in the fray with the introduction of the Model C510 Citation Mustang, a six-seat, single pilot-capable aircraft offering greater cabin space, capabilities and range than the competition, albeit in a slightly larger size (or, one could say, greater ramp presence.)
Unveiled at the 2002 NBAA Convention, the Mustang was powered by twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F turbofans with an advanced Garmin G1000 flight deck that upon introduction was at the leading edge of glass panel avionics. The first C510 flew in April 2005, with type certification following on September 8, 2006 and delivery of the first demonstration aircraft that November.
Officially considered “light jets” by the manufacturer, all Mustangs were built on a new assembly line at Cessna’s Independence, KS piston-engine aircraft production facility. Over the next decade, Cessna would deliver 479 Citation Mustangs, an impressive number even as new VLJ and light jet competition came (Embraer Phenom 100, HondaJet), went (the single-engine PiperJet and Diamond’s D-Jet) or stagnated (Eclipse.)
However, as time went on it became clear buyers preferred larger jet aircraft, with C510 sales falling from an average of 40 per year to a low of just 24 total aircraft over the last three years of production. The decline was due in no small part to the introduction of the M2 derivative of the successful Model 525 CitationJet family in 2013, which served as a new entry point to the Citation line.
Although Cessna formally ended C510 production in May 2017, interest in pre-owned Mustangs remains healthy as new buyers continue to seek a capable yet cost-effective entry point to Citation ownership. The type remains one of the most popular owner-flown light jets available today, offering a cruising speed of 340 knots and range exceeding 1,200 nm, with Garmin’s available G1000NXi avionics upgrade maintaining the aircraft’s technological edge.
While relatively short-lived compared to other Citation aircraft, the C510 Mustang redefined the attributes long associated with the Citation line, offering low acquisition costs, simple operation and the latest technology available to improve pilot safety and performance – all in a compact package that remains attractive to many CJP members and other jet operators around the globe.
Next time, we’ll delve into the history of the impressively diverse and incredibly popular Model 525 CitationJet/CJ line.