Cessna Citation refers to a family of turbofan-powered jets produced by Cessna, aimed for corporate use. This family of jets has undergone quite a number of improvements throughout the years so the Citation line is actually quite complex. During the 1980s, Cessna wanted to come up with a line of corporate jets that would be suitable for shorter runways, and would use turboprop engines.
Citation jets started out with the FanJet 500- the original prototype of the Citation family that flew its way in 1969. The jet was one of the light corporate jets to be produced at that time, but it had major competition to deal with. Among the Citation jets is the Citation I or Model 500, then dubbed as the “Citation 500″. Being powered by turbofan engines instead of the turbojet ones, which its archrival, the Learjet 25, was known for, it then received a lot of criticism by the aviation media. It was slower than the infamous Lear brand and could fit only 8 passengers on board. It even received nicknames such as “Slow-tation” and “Near Jet”, and the company was given bad press on having spent $35 million on developing this aircraft.**
Improvements were then made to the aircraft because of these criticisms. The company improved the aircraft by including a longer wingspan, taking on a higher maximum gross weight, and added thrust reversers which allowed for flight in shorter landing fields. The Citation 500 then was now known to be the Citation I. This aircraft line ceased production in 1985. The business jet market at that time was operating with a crew of 2 pilots. Cessna originally intended for these corporate jets to compete against the twin turboprop airplanes at that time, which only required a single pilot. A new breed of Cessna planes was then developed thereafter.
Years later, nobody would dare snicker at the Citation 500 series. These improvements revolutionized the way business jets were made. Up until decades later, the Citation series still qualify as a business aircraft. Through the years, Cessna then came up with a development: the Citation Jet (CJ) model. Unlike the original Citation series that were powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, the CJ family is now powered by the William Rolls FJ44 engine. It was then that Texas-based Sierra industries looked into the idea of incorporating the Citation Jet’s larger thrust version with the early 500 Citations, and it then gave birth to the FJ44 Citation Eagle II. This paved the way for aircraft owners to upgrade their existing engines to be as competitive as the newer CJs in terms of performance.
The Eagle II upgrade meant replacing the old Pratt engines with a pair of the Williams Rolls FJ44 engines. This meant making double the thrust of what the original could do, equating to top cruise speeds of about 390 knots, compared to the 340 knots of the “Slowtation” back then. Now with a longer wingspan, higher gross weight, and higher fuel capacity, the new Eagle II offers a flexibility and increased range from the original Citation models. The greater range and cruise speed, and the “climb-to-altitude” times cut in half, also enabled for a significant boost in fuel consumption. The third generation FJ44 engines cut costs in fuel by as much as 25%, without sacrificing all the factors that have already been previously enumerated. In essence, the higher speed, combined with the efficiency for fuel consumption, significantly improved the number of times it cruised the runway and the range of nautical miles it could travel as well.
Cessna has indeed proven to have made an impact on how jets were made, and true enough, how they are still being made in the present. Who would have known, that four years down the road, from the time the prototype was released, time will reveal what “a homerun Cessna had hit by betting 40% of its net worth on its new jet.”*** They had produced over 291 planes from 1972 to 1975, more than any other maker of executive jets in the history of aviation.