Cessna is a leading manufacturer of general aviation aircraft. It began producing small aircraft in the 1920s, and from the late 1960s engaged in the development of larger business jets. This became known as the Citation series, and the jets are still in production over 50 years later.
There are many different planes in the Citation series. Many of them are variants based on small changes to other models (like stretching or upgrading engines). Cessna (now part of Textron Aviation) still offers the CItationJet, Citation XLS, Citation Latitude and Citation Longitude. This article examines the main variants of the family – both retired and still available – and how they differ from each other.
The beginnings of Cessna
The Cessna Aircraft Company was established in 1927 in Kansas, originally known as the Cessna-Roos Aircraft Company after its two founders. Its early aircraft included the DC-6 (launched in 1929) and the C-37 seaplane (in 1937).
It struggled during the Great Depression and World War II, but aircraft production boomed from the late 1940s. The company began producing small all-metal aircraft and released popular models, notably the Cessna 120 and Cessna 140, during the following years. It introduced the popular Cessna 172 in 1956. It remains in production today and is the most delivered aircraft to date – with over 44,000 aircraft built.
Cessna also quickly branched out into larger commercial aircraft. It launched the Citation series in 1972, and production has continued to this day through several variants. The Citation series was prompted by the early success of competing offerings of low-cost, light business jets from other manufacturers, including Learjet.
Citation I – entry into service in 1972
Cessna’s first Citation jet was the Citation I. It first flew on September 15, 1969. It was first called Fanjet 500, then 500 Citation. The Citation I brand was introduced in 1971 when upgrades were made. This first jet used Pratt & Whitney JT15D-1 turbofan engines. Cessna delivered 688 Citation I aircraft, with production continuing through 1985.
Cessna built on the success of the Citation I with a stretched and improved Citation II. The initial variant, also known as the Cessna Model 550, first flew in January 1977 and was certified in March 1978.
The Citation II retained the same Pratt & Whitney JT15D engines. However, Cessna increased the wingspan, stretched the fuselage, and increased the passenger capacity from five to ten.
The aircraft was further improved as the Citation Bravo in 1997. It retained the same fuselage and design as the Citation II, but upgraded to newer Pratt & Whitney PW530A engines and avionics and interiors improved.
Along with the Bravo, production of the Citation II continued through 2006, with over 1,100 units delivered.
Quotations III, VI and VIII
The next update came quickly after the Citation II. The Citation III, also known as the Cessna Model 650, was announced in 1976 (before the Citation II even flew), first flew in May 1979, and certified in April 1982. The focus of this variant was to increase the range to allow transatlantic operations. , but this was ultimately not achieved (it was, however, increased by about 600 kilometers compared to the Citation II). It was originally planned as a three-engine trijet, but switched during development to twin engines, with two Garett TFE731 turbofans.
The Citation III can carry up to nine passengers. A stretched variant of the Citation IV was planned but not developed. Instead, Cessna released two more variants based on the Citation III to meet market demand at the time. The Citation VI was a less expensive variant, with a simpler interior. The Citation VII offered improved performance and range with higher thrust engines. It also allowed for more customizable and luxurious interiors.
Only 360 copies of this series were built (from 1983 to 2000). But much of the design, including the fuselage cross-section and cockpit, was retained for several later variants.
Citation V and Citation Ultra
The Citation V is an extended upgrade of the Citation II, with capacity for up to 11 passengers. It was certified in December 1988. It used the more powerful Pratt & Whitney JT15D5A engines. The Citation Ultra upgrade followed in June 1994, with Pratt & Whitney JT15D5D engines and improved avionics. There was also an American military version of the Citation V (designated as UC-35A). Nearly 800 aircraft have been delivered up to 2011.
Until now, most variants had improved with more powerful engines and improved economy. The CitationJet was a clean sheet development, driven by the continued popularity of the Citation I. Production had ended, but there was still a market for a light, inexpensive jet to replace it. The CitationJet introduced a new transport section, wing and T-tail. Cheaper, low-thrust Williams FJ44 engines were used.
The first CitationJet was the CJ1, with certification in 1992 and delivery from March 1993. It was supplemented by the stretched CJ2, CJ3 and CJ4 from 2000 to 2017. These have improved range and increased passenger capacity ( up to a maximum of 10 for the CJ4).
The CitationJet CJ3. Photo: Cessna/Textron Aviation
Each of the CitationJets has an upgraded version (the CJ2+, CJ3+ and CJ4+), offering upgraded avionics and upgraded interior features. The CitationJet series remains in production, with over 2,000 aircraft delivered to date.
Inside the CitationJet CJ3+. Photo: Cessna/Textron Aviation
The Citation X was first announced in 1990 as an attempt to rebrand and improve upon the previous Citation Citation III, VI and VII. It first flew in 1993 and entered service in July 1996.
He mainly focused on increasing speed and improving cabin interiors. It was a new design. The fuselage was redesigned to reduce drag, and the wing was moved under the fuselage, allowing for a full-height cabin. It was the first Citation jet to use Rolls-Royce engines, powered by two Rolls-Royce AE 3007C engines.
The Citation X+ followed in 2010. It used upgraded Rolls-Royce AE 3007C2 engines, new avionics, and included a heads-up display. A total of 339 Citation X and X+ aircraft have been delivered through 2018.
The Citation Excel was a modified variant of the Citation X, but targeted a different market with a lower speed and reduced capacity of nine passengers. It first flew in 1996 and was certified in April 1998.
It used Pratt & Whitney PWC545C engines and was based on a shortened version of the Citation X fuselage. The Citation XLS followed in 2008 with upgraded Pratt & Whitney engines.
Cessna’s assessment of the popularity of such a model was certainly fair. The Citation XLS remains in production and over 1000 Excel and XLS aircraft have been delivered to date.
The Citation Sovereign is a new take on the popular Citation X fuselage and low wing design. It is more stretched than the Excel, bringing the capacity to 11. It also uses the more powerful Pratt & Whitney PW545C engines and offers a range much closer to that of the Citation X. Over 400 Sovereigns have been delivered (2021), many of which operated in the United States by Netjets.
The Mustang is a light business jet introduced in 2006. It targeted the smaller segment of the market with a passenger capacity of only four to five and reduced power Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines. Over 400 Mustangs have been delivered (through 2017), but it was eventually overtaken by Cessna’s own lightweight CitationJet family.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly summaries of aviation news.
Latitude and Longitude Quote
The Citation Latitude was a newly designed jet introduced in 2014. In terms of specs and price, it sits somewhere between the XLS and the Sovereign. The Latitude uses Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D turbofans and has a newly designed circular fuselage, allowing passengers to stand up.
The Lattitude is one of the newest Citation jets. Photo: Cessna/Textron Aviation
The Citation Longitude is a follow-on variant of the Lattiutde, launched only in 2019. It retains the same circular fuselage, stretched to increase capacity to 12 and range to over 6,000 kilometres. It also has a new wing design, with Honeywell HTF7000 winglets and turbofans.
The Last Longitude Quote. Photo: Cessna/Textron Aviation
Looking ahead, the next variant in the series is the Citation Hemisphere. This one retains the same maximum capacity as the 12-passenger Longitude, but with a wider cabin. It has a range of up to over 8,000 kilometers – the farthest of any Citation jet. Development of the Hemisphere has, however, been delayed since 2019 due to issues with the selected Safran Silvercrest engines.
Cockpit of the Citation Longitude. Photo: Cessna/Textron Aviation
Have you flown on any of the Cessna Citation jets? Feel free to share your experiences of the different variants in the comments. There’s a lot more to discuss about different aircraft specifications, markets, and typical uses.