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Cessna completes new Citation Sovereign production flight

Cessna has completed the first production flight of the new Citation Sovereign as the certification process continues.

The 2.5h flight from Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kansas, allowed test pilot Matt Freund to assess the auto throttles, autopilot, engine and instrument approaches. The flight, which Freund describes as "exceptional", followed 1,300h of testing by three test articles.

The midsize business jet updated with a Garmin G5000 avionics suite and upgraded Pratt & Whitney PW306 engines is on track for first delivery in the third quarter.

Cessna delivered the last of the older version of the Sovereign during the first quarter, leading to a three-month pause of shipments until the new version of the aircraft is certificated after 1 July.

The original version of the Sovereign appeared in 2004, and is now being refreshed with new technology as a group of new competitors are poised to enter the market.

Within a year, Embraer plans to introduce the fly-by-wire Legacy 500 into service and Bombardier will deliver the first all-composite Learjet 85. Meanwhile, the fate of the Hawker 850XP is unresolved as Beechcraft has shut down production and continues looking for a buyer for the type certificate.

In addition to the new avionics and engine features, the new Sovereign can fly segments up to 3,000nm (5,556km), or 150nm farther than previous aircraft. The more powerful engines allow the aircraft to maintain a top speed of 458kt (848km/h), and adds the capability to climb directly to 45,000ft.

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