In this month’s Aircraft Comparative Analysis- we provide information on a medium- size business jet- Cessna’s Citation Excel. We’ll consider some of the productivity parameters - including payload- range- speed and cabin size- along with its current market value. This month’s field of study also includes Bombardier’s Learjet 45.Back to Articles
In this month’s Aircraft Comparative Analysis- we provide information on a medium- size business jet- Cessna’s Citation Excel. We’ll consider some of the productivity parameters - including payload- range- speed and cabin size- along with its current market value. This month’s field of study also includes Bombardier’s Learjet 45.
The Citation brand encompasses six distinct families of aircraft. The Citation Excel- the XLS and the XLS+ comprise one of these families. In total 372 Citation Excels were built between 1998 and 2004. The Citation Excel is a growth/derivative variant of the Citation V Ultra utilizing a shortened Citation X stand-up fuselage and a lengthened Citation V wing.
The Excel utilizes two Pratt & Whitney PW545A engines that made it faster than the V Ultra and gave it a higher MGTOW and a longer range. An advanced avionics suite includes a Honeywell Primus 1000 flight guidance system and a single AlliedSignal flight management system. This aircraft can be RVSM certified when Service Bulletin SL-560XL-34-02 is complied with.
Chart A represents the in-operation aircraft Market Share as of June 2013 for the Citation Excel (60%) and the Learjet 45 (40%). There are currently 611 total aircraft in operation for these two models.
PAYLOAD AND RANGE
The data contained in Table A is sourced from Conklin & de Decker. As we have mentioned in past articles- a potential operator should focus on payload capability as a key factor. The Citation Excel ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ at 960 pounds is greater than that offered by the Learjet 45 (798 pounds).
According to Conklin & de Decker- the cabin volume of the Citation Excel at 461 cubic feet is 12 percent larger than the Learjet 45 (410 cubic feet)- as shown in Chart B.
The Citation Excel is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545A engines- each offering a thrust rating of 3-804 pounds. The Learjet 45- meanwhile- is powered by a pair of Honeywell TFE731- 20AR engines- each with a thrust rating of 3-500 pounds.
Table B- sourced from the Aircraft Cost Calculator (ACC) shows the fuel usage by each aircraft model in this field of study. The Citation Excel - at 225 gallons per hour (GPH) - uses 30 gallons per hour (or 15.4%) more fuel than the Learjet 45 (195 GPH).
COST PER MILE COMPARISON
Using data published in the May 2013 B&CA Planning and Purchasing Handbook and the August 2012 B&CA Operations Planning Guide we will compare our aircraft. The nationwide average Jet-A fuel cost in the August 2012 edition was $6.30 per gallon at press time- so for the sake of comparison we’ll chart the numbers as published.
Note: Fuel price used from this source does not represent an average price for the year.
‘Cost per Mile’ is detailed in Chart C which compares the Citation Excel to the Learjet 45 factoring direct costs- and with each aircraft flying a 1-000nm mission with 800 pounds (four passengers) payload. The Citation Excel’s cost at $4.92 per nautical mile is greater by $1.07 per mile (or 28%) than the Learjet 45 at $3.85.
TOTAL VARIABLE COST COMPARISONS
The ‘Total Variable Cost’- illustrated in Chart D- is defined as the cost of Fuel Expense- Maintenance Labor Expense- Scheduled Parts Expense- and Miscellaneous trip expense. The total variable cost for the Citation Excel at $1-965 has a 17.7% higher variable cost per hour compared to the Learjet 45 at $1-670.
The points in Chart E center on the same two business jets. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published by Vref. The productivity index requires further discussion in that the factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:
1. Range with full payload and available fuel;
2. The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
3. The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.
The result is a very large number so for the purpose of charting- each result is divided by one billion. The examples plotted are confined to the aircraft in this study. A computed curve fit on this plot would not be very tight- but when all business jets are considered the “r” squared factor would equal a number above 0.9. Others may choose different parameters- but serious business jet buyers are usually impressed with Price- Range- Speed and Cabin Size.
After consideration of the Price- Range- Speed and Cabin Size- we can conclude that the Citation Excel aircraft- as shown in the productivity index Chart E- is highly productive. It has been popular with a higher market share percentage and delivered more aircraft after having started production one year later (1998 vs 1997) than the Learjet 45. While it offers more available payload with full fuel and a larger cabin volume- it does- however cost more to operate- travels at a slower long-range speed and has a higher retail price.
Table C shows the average pre-owned retail price from Vref for each aircraft – both 2004 models. The last three columns of information show the number of aircraft in-operation- the percentage “For Sale”- and the number “Sold” from JETNET. It is interesting to note that with 369 aircraft in operation only 7.8% of the Excel fleet is currently for sale (traditionally a seller’s market). Conversely- out of a fleet of 242Learjet 45s- 14.4% are for sale (traditionally a buyer’s market). However- both aircraft average more than three pre-owned sales monthly.
LOCATION BY CONTINENT
Table D- meanwhile- offers a breakdown of the location by continent for the Wholly-Owned Citation Excel business jet fleet. North America is home to the majority of the fleet- with 71% of the 302 wholly-owned Excel aircraft- followed by Europe at 15%. Currently- 12 Citation Excel aircraft are in shared ownership and there are 55 in fractional ownership programs.
Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the key attributes that business jet operators value. However- there are often other qualities such as service and support that factor in a buying decision- but are beyond the scope of this article.
The Citation Excel business jet fares well against its competition - so those operators in the market should find the preceding comparison of value. Our expectations are that the Citation Excel business jet will continue to do very well in the pre-owned market for the time being.
For more information: Michael Chase is president of Chase & Associates- and can be contacted at: 1628 Snowmass Place- Lewisville- TX 75077; Tel: 214-226-9882; Email: Mike@avbuyer.com- Web: www.mdchase.com
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