Cessna's Citation Longitude programme has taken another step forward, with the debut flight on 17 March of its third prototype.
The super-midsize twin – registration N702GL – completed a 1h 40min sortie from Wichita, Kansas with Cessna pilots Corey Eckhart and U J Pesonen, and flight-test engineer Mike Bradfield, with this evaluating the aircraft’s systems.
The third prototype will be dedicated to avionics and systems development, says Cessna parent company Textron Aviation, and will also collect flight simulator data.
Cessna has, meanwhile, begun assembly of the first four production Longitudes at a dedicated manufacturing facility, called Plant IV, situated on the east side of the Wichita campus.
“The speed at which our team is achieving these milestones is an important indication to our customers of the maturity of the aircraft’s systems, and the proficiency of our processes,” says Brad Thress, Textron Aviation’s senior vice-president of engineering.
The third Honeywell HTF7700L-powered prototype joined the test programme less than six months after the first Longitude exampled commenced Cessna's certification effort. The second aircraft joined the line-up last November, and the lead pair have so far logged 250h across 125 flights.
US certification of the 12-passenger, 3,500nm (6,480km)-range twinjet is slated for the end of the fourth quarter, with service entry to occur in early 2018.
The $24 million Longitude is positioned in Cessna’s 10-strong Citation line-up between the $16.3 million midsize Latitude, which entered service in 2015, and the $35 million, large-cabin Hemisphere, which is scheduled to make its first flight in 2019.
The Longitude includes Cessna’s first use of fly-by-wire technology, with electronically-actuated spoilers.