Two Cessna business aircraft positioned at the each end of the airframer’s six-strong light jet family have reached major production and certification milestones. Cessna is hoping these two products will help to re-energine this embattled sector.
The superlight, 2,500nm (4,625km) range Citation Latitude is advancing towards certification and service entry as Cessna begins full assembly-line flow at its manufacturing headquarters. Assembly of the clean-sheet business jet includes several technological advancements, according to Cessna, such as the use of new automated robotics and ergonomically-friendly tooling stations.
"We are bringing technological advances to both the design of our new products and the way we manufacture them," says Scott Ernest, chief executive of parent company Textron Aviation.
The fourth flight-test Latitude will be the first aircraft to roll off the production line. Two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D Latitudes – a prototype and a production example – have logged 230h in over 100 flights.
The third aircraft is scheduled to join the flight-test fleet before the end of the third quarter. US certification for the Garmin G5000-equipped Latitude remains on track for the first half of 2015. According to Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database, Cessna has a backlog for 27 Latitudes.
Meanwhile, six months after it entered service in the USA, the 1,580nm-range Citation M2 has clinched European approval, paving the way for deliveries to begin to European customers.
The $4.5 million twinjet – derived from the out-of-production CJ1 – is a step-up model between the entry-level Mustang and the light-cabin CJ2+, featuring the G3000 flightdeck, and is Williams International FJ44-powered.
According to Ascend, Cessna has delivered 23 M2s to date and has orders for a further 10 of the $15 million, seven-seat types, two of which are recorded for European owners. The identity of the remaining customers is unknown.
"We have had significant interest for the Citation M2 in Europe, due to its size, speed and range," says Cessna’s jets vice-president Chris Hearne. "The M2 has a maximum cruise speed of 400kt [740km/h] and a range of 1,580nm, so it can easily handle non-stop legs throughout the region such as Paris to Athens or Zürich to Moscow. The M2 is also certificated for single-pilot operation," he adds.