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For more than a decade one of the treats of working in the yard behind my home stems from countless opportunities to watch prototype aircraft transit to and from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. Southwest of here by scarcely five miles as the test-bed birds fly- ICT handles experimental and production flight-test traffic for several local airframe makers- as well as for a variety of non-local manufacturers- plus traffic generated by vendors and after-market product providers.

Dave Higdon   |   1st January 2004
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Dave Higdon Dave Higdon

Dave Higdon writes about aviation from his base in Wichita Kansas. During three decades in...
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Cantering toward a 2005 first flight with critical systems selected and detail design advancing.

For more than a decade one of the treats of working in the yard behind my home stems from countless opportunities to watch prototype aircraft transit to and from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. Southwest of here by scarcely five miles as the test-bed birds fly- ICT handles experimental and production flight-test traffic for several local airframe makers- as well as for a variety of non-local manufacturers- plus traffic generated by vendors and after-market product providers.

Several developmental aircraft ply the local sky now. Downstream we anticipate the day in 2005 when the newest jet-engine whoosh-and-whine heralds the overflight of a new Citation as revolutionary as the original Model 500 of the early 1970s or the original CitationJet of the early 1990s: The Cessna Citation Mustang.

Given the substantial order book Cessna already holds for the new- small Citation (more than 330 as of mid-year 2003) it is easy to envision dozens of Mustang flights weekly once the program progresses past first flight in mid-2005.

Why so many? Well- Cessna expects first-year Mustang deliveries to exceed 100 and to grow from there. And with certification expected in the latter half of 2006- followed by first deliveries by year’s end- wringing out two Mustangs a week means the production flight-test folks will be staying busy.

History repeats- again:
The past year has seen Cessna make two of the most-critical decisions of the program and start moving orders to firm contracts from the letters-of-intent taken at- and after- the 2002 National Business Aviation Association convention.

No prior Citation generated near the buzz – or the rampant deposit action – as the Mustang when unveiled at NBAA 2002 in Orlando- and that is saying something- when you consider the history of the Citation line. Upon its launch in the early 1970s- the original Model 500 Citation generated a huge buzz.

Of course- much of that buzz stemmed from the source of the announcement- the little-airplane masters at Cessna Aircraft Co. Some sages unkindly suggested that no serious business would consider buying any jet that started with the word- 'Cessna.' Cessna- after all- really knew nothing about jets or the ‘serious’ corporate market.

Some of Cessna’s senior staff laughed along with the jokes – the unkind and all – as the company proceeded to sell- build and deliver more than 4-000 Citations over the next three decades.

The original Citation brought jets to a new market filled with buyers already flying light propjets- pressurized piston twins and singles- and high-performance turbocharged singles. The attraction: flying traits easy for an experienced retract pilot to master; excellent short-field performance that opened up thousands of small airports to the light jets; speed more than 100 knots faster than anything with a propeller; and relatively low costs- both for purchase and operation. The first Citation succeeded in spades.

And shortly afterward Cessna’s Citation line started growing. First came the Citation II- then the Citation III – the company’s first swept-wing- high-speed model – followed by more number-based designations leading eventually to the Citation X- which today stands as the world’s fastest business jet.

The Citation X ended Cessna’s proclivity for giving Citations numerical names- as evidenced by the emergence of the Bravo- the Excel- the XLS and the Sovereign – successors to the originator of the non-numerical name; the CitationJet.
Indeed- Cessna repeated the Citation I phenomenon with the CitationJet- a smaller- faster- relatively lower-cost reinvention of the entry-level jet for the owner/pilot market and beyond. After it entered service in 1991- so successful had the CitationJet concept been- that Cessna evolved the original CJ into a family now numbering three.

The upcoming CJ3 now in flight tests offers more space and speed than the stretched CJ2 and the still-original-sized CJ1.
Last year- 13 years after the launch of the original CitationJet and 30 after the original Citation- Cessna yet again reinvented the entry-level personal jet to attract a market unserved by any contemporary jet – though targeted by other new-jet developers.

Cessna aimed its new Citation Mustang at the owners of hundreds of light six-place piston twins- pressurized propjet singles and twins – particularly older pressurized piston and propjet twins – and frequent charter customers. Again- moving to jets an expanded percentage of the owner-pilot population is the goal. Indeed- as happened twice before- the unveiling of a new- small Citation shook prior conventions.

A pony’s progress:
The Mustang generated a huge response- quickly landing more than 200 purchase commitments- and only in part due to its $2.29 million initial price tag. As happened before with the original Citation and the CitationJet- pilots tend to embrace any opportunity to gain higher speed at lower operating costs – particularly when coupled with the promise of new technology and improved systems; a combination that helped make the Mustang almost instantly irresistible to hundreds.

The unveiling of many of the vendor choices helped re-assure others who took a wait-and-see position- but at the root- it is value – performance versus price – that gives the Mustang its near-instant cachet.

From the preliminary specifications- the Mustang promises excellent value- particularly compared to many of the aging propjet and piston twins that the new jet is expected to replace.

Cessna promises the Mustang will deliver a cruise speed of 340 knots true at FL350- cover 1-300 nautical miles with 45-minute reserves after launching with a balanced-field-length of 3-100 feet while carrying a pilot and 600 pounds – about three average sized people and luggage for four. The Mustang can take up to six- with two on the flight deck and four more in the club-arranged seating of the main cabin. Backing out fuel for a full-seats flight still leaves the Mustang with a range of about 1-000 miles.

Not only does the Mustang offer the ability to cruise as high as FL410 – as much as three miles higher than the propeller-driven twins and pressurized singles – it does so between 70 and 120 knots faster than those prop-driven birds. Moreover- Cessna fully expects the Mustang to hit its performance marks.

As of October last year- Cessna’s wind-tunnel research and design work had confirmed the root of the design and its expected efficiency – particularly with the all-new engine selected to power the little Mustang. Indeed- thanks to the confirmation of the design- and the company’s success in selecting the engine and avionics suppliers- the Mustang is firmly on-track for certification in the third quarter of 2006.

Power to the pony:
Among the unknowns about the Mustang in October 2002 were two key vendor selections- one for the avionics- one for the powerplants. As of January 2003- Cessna ended the powerplant mystery with the announcement that Pratt & Whitney Canada’s all-new PW615F turbofan would power the new Mustang.

Cessna selected the PW615F after examining ownership costs- performance and reliability in a new-technology engine- eschewing the Williams International FJ33 from the supplier of the diminutive FJ44-series engines used on all CJ variants. The second engine developed from the all-new PW600 family- the PW615F is designed to make 1-350 pounds of thrust at ISA conditions up to +10ºC.

Small- light and compact- the as-yet-untested PW615F was derived from the full-scale PW625F engine- the first of the new family – one that’s been running for more than two years and flying on a Citation I test bed for more than a year.

P&WC designers aerodynamically scaled-down the PW625F to produce the PW615F. Both engines employ new state-of-the-art cores with an inlet fan that integrates into a single unit- the air feeding both the gas core and the bypass channels. These engines also employ new materials and manufacturing technologies designed to give them lower acquisition costs- higher reliability and lower operating costs.

The PW615F also employs the latest dual FADEC engine-control hardware and an exhaust and nacelle designed to minimize engine sound output.

First run of PW615F is imminent- as of this writing; its first airborne test flight is expected in the second quarter of next year- with certification due in the fourth quarter of 2005.

P&WC plans to offer Mustang owners a comprehensive warranty on the new engine that spans three years or 1-000 operating hours. A 3-500-hour initial TBO is expected- along with an initial hot-section inspection cycle of 1-750 hours.

Paneling a hot pony:
Cessna reached its second major vendor landmark in March last year- naming Kansas-based Garmin International as the supplier for the Mustang’s high-tech panel and avionics hardware.

Just as Cessna trusted a known player to deliver an all-new powerplant for the Mustang- it likewise tapped an innovator in avionics for the panel – both where the player is known and where it is unproven.

The selection of the Garmin G1000 integrated flight deck goes beyond selecting a vendor for a moving map or PFD or navigational receivers. Instead- the selection of Garmin and its all-new hardware covers virtually every part of the Mustang’s navigation- flight-control- avionics display and engine-management needs.

The G1000 is more than a new moving map- MFD or PFD. The G1000 integrates everything found in the panel – from the map displays to the flight instruments to the engine monitoring gauges to the nav and com radios- transponder- autopilot and flight-management system- air data and gyro instruments. The G1000 in many ways matches the degree of sophistication and integration found primarily in high-end business jets- mid-cabin class and larger.

The main feature of the Mustang’s G1000 installation is two 10-inch diagonal PFD/HSI/Air-data displays – one for each pilot seat – with a huge 15-inch MFD/Moving Map/EICAS display occupying the center of the panel.

Between the center display and the left-seat PFD screen resides a remote control head for operating the radios – GPS- VHF Nav- VHF Com- Mode S transponder- and more – including the autopilot- the check-list screens and the main-displays redundancy mode.

Each screen is independent of the processor boxes- a collection of remotely mounted Line Replaceable Units (LRUs) for each of the many functions. The G1000 systems replace spinning-mass gyros with high-reliability AHRS systems for attitude and heading information. Likewise- the G1000 employs all solid-state sensors to do the jobs done by gears and hollow- flexible tubes in the mechanical altimeters- airspeed indicators- and vertical speed indicators.

The individual components are tied into a single system using high-speed data-link wiring similar to the cabling for computer networks.

Garmin’s commitment also includes supplying integrated FMS functions- weather radar- terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS)- the Mode S datalink Traffic Information System (TIS)- the datalink Flight Information Service (FIS) for weather- even the integrated digital autopilot hardware.

Garmin has won legions of fans with its all-in-one GPS/Nav/Com systems- the GNS 430 and 530. The company’s new GTX330 Mode S datalink transponder is bringing traffic to pilots already today.

But the autopilot- FMS- PFD and AHRS- and other equipment are new for the manufacturer. Nonetheless- Garmin’s basic G1000 integrated avionics/PDF system has won slots with Diamond Aircraft on the DA40 Star- as well as a place as an option on Cessna’s 182 and T182 Skylanes and the 206 and T206 Stationaires.

When flying- the Mustang installation of the G1000 will be the most-advanced version yet.

The Mustang after a year:
Under the guidance of product manager Russ Meyer III- the Mustang is progressing well through development. With both low- and high-speed wind-tunnel tests complete- little change was needed to the fundamental design- according to the company.

With the selection of the two key vendors – engines and avionics – and preliminary design work done and confirmed by initial wind-tunnel tests- the Mustang appears on track to take the business aviation world into new territory come 2006.
If early sales are any indication- demand will only increase as the littlest Citation draws nearer to certification.

As of May 2003- Cessna was in the process of converting to firm orders the 330-plus letters-of-intent it had in hand. Progress was 'solid and satisfying-' Cessna executives told World Aircraft Sales in late October 2003.

And already vendors- brokers and investors are offering investments and shares in new Mustangs. Sounds like a hat trick for Cessna- where inventing new entry-level jets is concerned. We’re looking forward to seeing the show start overhead in 2005. We already know where to put the chair in the back yard.

• More information from Cessna; 800 4CESSNA (US Only); +1 316 517 6056 (International); Website: www.cessna.com

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