In this month’s jet comparison, Mike Chase provides information on the Cessna Citation Sovereign+ and Hawker 900XP Mid-size Jets. What are the advantages in each?
Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters in our field of study, including payload, range, speed and cabin size, along with the current market for the Cessna Citation Sovereign+ and Hawker 900XP.
About the Citation Sovereign+
The original Citation Sovereign was built between 2004 and 2013. Over that time, Cessna produced a total of 350 units. After 2013, Cessna introduced the Sovereign+ and has built 84 Sovereign+ jets.
One of the strong suits of this model that makes it so popular within the market is its range. The Citation Sovereign/Sovereign+ provide US coast-to-coast capability akin to larger cabin jets, while retaining the features that make Mid-size Jets so advantageous to many operators.
The pressurized cabin accommodates a crew of two plus nine passengers as a standard. Two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D FADEC-controlled turbofan engines provide the power (upgraded from PW306C on the Sovereign). The range capability of the Sovereign+ increased by more than 200nm distance over the original Sovereign when carrying four passengers.
Of the 84 Citation Sovereign+ aircraft in operation, all are wholly owned. In April 2019, North America had the largest fleet percentage (82%), followed by Europe and South America at 8% each. Together, these regions account for a combined 98% of the world’s total fleet.
About the Hawker 900XP
The Hawker 900XP was manufactured between 2007 and 2012. When introduced to the market, the Hawker 900XP retained all of the advanced traits of the Hawker 850 (including fuel efficiency, aerodynamics, comfort, and more).
The Hawker 900XP features Honeywell TFE731-50R engines designed specifically for the aircraft and rated at close to 5,000lbst, resulting in increased climb performance. In total, there are 182 Hawker 900XP business jets in operation, 178 of which are wholly owned, while two are in shared ownership, and two are in fractional ownership.
As of April 2019, North America was home to the largest Hawker 900XP fleet percentage (70%), followed by Asia (14%), and Europe (9%) accounting for a combined 93% of the fleet.
Payload & Range Comparison
As we have established in previous articles, a potential operator should focus on payload capability as a key factor in selecting the right aircraft for their needs.
Table A shows the Citation Sovereign+ ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ is 1,400lbs, which is less than the 1,620lbs offered by the Hawker 900XP.
TABLE A: Cessna Citation Sovereign+ vs Hawker 900XP - Payload & Range Comparison
Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
Chart A shows the UPCAST JETBOOK cabin cross-section comparison for the Citation Sovereign+ and Hawker 900XP. As shown, the Hawker 900XP has slightly more cabin height and width compared to the Citation Sovereign+. Also depicted, both aircraft have dropped aisle cabins to achieve their maximum heights.
The chart doesn’t, however, show that the Citation Sovereign+ has a longer cabin (25.25ft) than the Hawker 900XP (21.3ft). This ultimately results in a greater cabin volume for the Sovereign+ (585cu.ft) than the Hawker 900XP (551cu.ft).
In terms of baggage space, the Citation Sovereign+ has 35cu.ft internal and 100cu.ft external volume. By comparison, the Hawker 900XP does not offer external baggage storage but has 50cu.ft internal luggage capacity.
CHART A: Cessna Citation Sovereign+ vs Hawker 900XP - Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
Using Wichita, Kansas as the origin point, Chart B shows the Citation Sovereign+ (at 3,069nm) has more range than the Hawker 900XP (2,818nm) with four passengers.
For business jets, ‘Four Passenger Range’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long range cruise with NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation including a 200nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related considerations.
CHART B: Cessna Citation Sovereign+ vs Hawker 900XP - Range Comparison
The Citation Sovereign+ is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D engines providing 5,907lbst each. By contrast, the Hawker 900XP is powered by a pair of Honeywell TFE 731-50R engines with 4,660lbst each.
Cost Per Mile Comparison
Chart C details the ‘Cost per Mile’ for our comparative jets (per JETNET data), and factors direct costs (no depreciation) with each aircraft flying a 1,000nm mission with an 800lbs (four passenger) payload. The average US Jet-A fuel cost used for May 2019 was $4.93 per gallon.
The Citation Sovereign+ shows a lower cost per nautical mile at $8.06, compared to $10.25 for the Hawker 900XP. That’s a difference of $2.19 lower cost per mile for the Citation Sovereign+.
CHART C: Cessna Citation Sovereign+ vs Hawker 900XP - Cost Per Mile Comparison
Variable Hourly Cost Comparison
The ‘Total Variable Hourly Cost’, per JETNET data (and highlighted in Chart D) is defined as the cost of fuel expense, maintenance labor expense, scheduled parts expense and miscellaneous trip expense (hangar, crew and catering).
The Total Variable Cost for the Citation Sovereign+ computes at $2,752/hour compared to the Hawker 900XP at $2,918/hour. That gives the Citation Sovereign+ a $166 (5.7%) lower variable hourly cost.
CHART D: Cessna Citation Sovereign+ vs Hawker 900XP - Variable Hourly Cost Comparison
Aircraft Comparison Table
Table B contains the prices (per Vref) for a used 2013-edition Citation Sovereign+ (first year of production) and a used 2012-model Hawker 900XP (last year of production). The long-range cruise speed, cabin volumes and ranges are from Conklin & De Decker and B&CA, and number of aircraft in-operation, fleet percentage for sale and average sold are as reported by JETNET.
The Citation Sovereign+ fleet had 6% of its fleet for sale as of the end of April 2019, while the Hawker 900XP had 9.3% for sale. The average number of transactions (sold) per month was two for the Citation Sovereign+ and three used transactions for the Hawker 900XP over the past 12 months.
TABLE B: Cessna Citation Sovereign+ vs Hawker 900XP - Aircraft Comparison Table
Maximum Scheduled Maintenance Equity
Provided courtesy of Asset Insight, Chart E displays the maximum maintenance equity a Citation Sovereign+ might have, based on its age. Note: The Maximum Maintenance Equity figure was achieved the day the aircraft came off the production line since it had not accumulated any utilization toward any maintenance events.
The percent of the Maximum Maintenance Equity that an average aircraft will have available based on its age, assumes an average annual utilization of 426 Flight Hours and that all maintenance is completed when due.
CHART E – Maximum Scheduled Maintenance Equity (Cessna Citation Sovereign+)
Aircraft that are owned and operated by businesses are often depreciable for income tax purposes under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Under MACRS, taxpayers can use accelerated depreciation of assets by taking a greater percentage of the deductions during the first few years of the applicable recovery period (see Table C).
TABLE C: Part 91 & 135 MACRS Schedule
In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favorable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS) where depreciation is based on a straight-line method, meaning that equal deductions are taken during each year of the applicable recovery period. In most cases, recovery periods under ADS are longer than recovery periods available under MACRS.
There are a variety of factors that taxpayers must consider in determining if an aircraft may be depreciated and, if so, the correct depreciation method and recovery period that should be utilized. For example, aircraft used in charter service (i.e. Part 135) are normally depreciated under MACRS over a seven-year recovery period, or under ADS using a twelve-year recovery period.
Aircraft used for qualified business purposes, such as Part 91 business use flights, are generally depreciated under MACRS over a period of five years or by using ADS with a six-year recovery period. There are certain uses of the aircraft, such as non-business flights, that may have an impact on the allowable depreciation deduction available in any given year.
The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the new Act, taxpayers may be able to deduct up to 100 percent of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased after September 27, 2017 and placed in service before January 1, 2023.
This 100% expensing provision is a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators. After December 31, 2022 the Act decreases the percentage available each year by 20% to depreciate qualified business jets until December 31, 2026.
Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2013-model Citation Sovereign+ in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE D: Citation Sovereign+ MACRS Depreciation Schedule
Table E, meanwhile, depicts an example of the MACRS schedule applied to a 2012-model Hawker 900XP used in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE E: Hawker Beechcraft 900XP MACRS Depreciation Schedule
Asking Prices & Quantity
The current used market for the Citation Sovereign+ aircraft shows a total of five jets for sale, two of which have asking prices of $10.4m and $11.2m. For the Hawker 900XP, 17 aircraft are listed for sale nine of which display asking prices ranging between $3.695m and $5.99m.
While each serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition of an aircraft will cause great variation in price. Of course, the final negotiated sale price remains to be decided between the seller and the buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.
The points in Chart F are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published in the Vref Pricing Guide. 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:
- Four Passenger Range (nm) with available fuel;
- The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
- The gross cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed and cabin size.
CHART F: Cessna Citation Sovereign+ vs Hawker 900XP - Productivity Comparison
For more than double the purchase price (2013-model Citation Sovereign+ vs 2012-model Hawker 900XP) the Citation Sovereign+ demonstrates a higher level of productivity compared to the Hawker 900XP and the original Citation Sovereign.
While it edged out the Hawker 900XP with a greater cabin volume, more range, lower operating costs and higher cruise speed, it has a lower ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ capacity than the Hawker 900XP.
Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business jet operators value. There are other qualities such as airport performance, terminal area performance and time to climb that might factor in a buying decision. Operators should weigh up their mission requirements precisely when picking which option is the best for them.