Cessna has flown the first production unit of the new Citation X twin-engined jet, reaching a top speed of Mach 0.935 during the 3h 6min flight, the manufacturer announced.

The eight-passenger, midsize jet - featuring upgrades such as Garmin G5000 avionics, auto-throttles and a slightly longer cabin - is now scheduled for first delivery in early 2014.

Gary Drummond, Cessna's senior production test pilot, called the first flight "flawless". After take-off from Cessna's base on the southwest side of Wichita, Kansas, the new Citation X climbed to 49,000ft (15,000m) to achieve the top speed and maintained an average cruise speed of M0.915 at 41,000ft.

 New Citation X first flight


Drummond especially cited the performance of the new auto-throttles as a significant improvement compared to the Citation X model, which first appeared in 1996.

"The auto-throttles on the X delivers flight performance advantages with greater situational awareness and reduced crew workload," he says.

The flight of the first production model comes after Cessna's certification effort for the new Citation X has slipped behind schedule. Originally scheduled for first delivery in the fourth quarter, Cessna parent Textron announced it would be delayed to early next year when it reported second-quarter earnings results in July.

Textron chief executive Scott Donnelly blamed the schedule change on delays with integrating a common Garmin avionics for Cessna's Citation M2, new Sovereign and the new X.

The delays caused first deliveries of the M2 and Sovereign to slip until the end of the year, and the new X schedule was affected as a knock-on result, Donnelly told analysts.

Source: Flight International