- 01 Feb 2021
- Mike Chase
- Jets Comparison
How do the HondaJet Elite and the Cessna Citation M2 compare side-by-side? What are the advantages offered by each model and to whom do they most appeal? Mike Chase analyses the performance and productivity parameters.Back to Articles
Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters for the HondaJet Elite and Cessna Citation M2 (including payload, range, speed, and cabin size) to establish which aircraft provides greater value in the Light Jet market, and in which areas.
Does speed drive the decision to buy a jet, or is cabin volume or longer range more important to you? It is hoped that the following comparison will help.
As an upgrade on the HondaJet HA420, the HondaJet Elite is Honda’s second aircraft. The HondaJet Elite has noise-reducing engine inlets, and a Garmin 3000 avionics system designed to improve flight planning, stability, and safety.
As well as offering a reduced cabin weight, the HondaJet Elite has auxiliary tanks that increase the fuel capacity. The result is a 17% increase in range over the original HondaJet model.
As of this writing, there were 51 wholly-owned HondaJet Elite business jets in operation worldwide, with four in shared- and seven in fractional-ownership, making a total of 62 jets in operation.
Cessna Citation M2
The Cessna Citation M2 was launched in September 2011 and is based on the Citation CJ1+, while featuring a new cabin layout and more efficient FJ44 engines. It became Cessna's entry-level jet, once the Citation Mustang ceased production in mid-2017.
The aircraft is equipped with modern Garmin G3000 avionics that replaced the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21. At the time of writing there were 258 wholly-owned Citation M2s, and a further 12 in shared-ownership – making a total 270 units in-operation worldwide.
Payload & Range Comparison
When comparing business jets, an important area for potential operators to focus on is payload capability, and especially the ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’. Table A shows the Citation M2 ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ to be 514lbs, which is slightly greater than the 488lbs offered by the HondaJet Elite.
TABLE A: HondaJet Elite versus Cessna Citation M2 Payload Comparisons
As shown in Chart A, the cabin height of the HondaJet Elite is 4.83ft, which is more than the Cessna Citation M2 (4.75ft). The cabin width is also more for the HondaJet Elite (5.0ft vs 4.83ft).
CHART A: HondaJet Elite versus Cessna Citation M2 Cabin Comparison
Not depicted on the graphic, the HondaJet Elite offers more than a foot of additional cabin length compared with the Citation M2 (12.1ft vs 11ft), and its overall cabin volume measures 225cu.ft. The Citation M2 offers 201cu.ft of cabin volume by comparison.
While neither jet offers in-flight accessible luggage space, the HondaJet Elite provides more external luggage volume (66cu.ft versus 43.1cu.ft).
Using Wichita, Kansas as the start point, Chart B shows the Citation M2 offers a range of 1,183nm (with four passengers and available fuel), which is slightly more than the HondaJet Elite’s 1,171nm range.
CHART B: HondaJet Elite versus Cessna Citation M2 Range Comparison
Note: For business jets, ‘Four Pax Range’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long range cruise. The NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 100nm alternate (under Part 23) and 200nm (under Part 25), per B&CA. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.
The HondaJet Elite has two GE Honda HF120-H1A engines, providing 2,050 pounds of thrust (lbst) each. These burn 103 gallons of fuel/hour (gph). In comparison, the Citation M2 flies with two Williams International FJ44-1AP-21 engines, producing a greater 1,965lbst each, and burning a higher 112gph fuel.
Cost per Mile Comparison
Chart C details the ‘Cost per Mile’, comparing the HondaJet Elite and the Citation M2, and factoring direct costs with each aircraft flying a 1,000nm mission and an 800lbs (four passengers) payload.
The HondaJet Elite has the lowest cost per mile at $4.50 per nautical mile, which is 2.4% less expensive to operate than the Citation M2 ($4.61 per nautical mile).
CHART C: HondaJet Elite versus Cessna Citation M2 Cost Per Mile Comparison
Variable Cost Comparison
The ‘Variable Cost’, illustrated in Chart D, is defined as the estimated cost of fuel expense, maintenance labor expense, scheduled parts expense, and miscellaneous trip expense (e.g. hangar, crew and catering).
These costs DO NOT represent a direct source into every flight department and their trip support expenses. For comparative purposes, the costs presented are the relative differences, not the actual differences since these may vary from one flight department to another.
The HondaJet Elite ($1,378/hr) has a lower variable cost than the Citation M2 ($1.402/hr) – a difference of $24, or 1.7%.
CHART D: HondaJet Elite versus Cessna Citation M2 Variable Cost Comparison
Aircraft Comparison Table
Table B contains the new 2020 prices (per B&CA) for the HondaJet Elite and the Citation M2 ($5.3m and $5.305m, respectively). Also listed are the long-range cruise speed and range numbers, per B&CA, while the number of aircraft in-operation, the percentage for sale, and average new and used jets sold are from JETNET.
At the time of writing, the HondaJet Elite had two aircraft ‘for sale’ on the used aircraft market (representing 3.3% of the fleet). By comparison, there were 12 Citation M2 ‘for sale’ (4.4% of the fleet). The average number of used transactions (units sold) per month over the previous 12 months was two for the HondaJet Elite, and five for the Citation M2.
TABLE B: HondaJet Elite versus Cessna Citation M2 Market Comparison
Asking Prices & Quantity
At the time of writing, there were two HondaJet Elite business jets available for sale on the used aircraft market that invited offers with no asking prices provided. There were also 12 Citation M2 business jets for sale, with four showing ask prices ranging from $3.1m to $3.8m.
While each aircraft serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition will cause great variation in the price of a specific aircraft – even between two aircraft from the same year of manufacture. The final negotiated price remains to be decided between the seller and buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.
Maximum Scheduled Maintenance Equity
Chart E and Chart F represent the HondaJet Elite and Citation M2, respectively. They depict (and project) the Maximum Maintenance Equity each jet has available, based on its age.
CHART E: HondaJet Elite Maximum Maintenance Equity
CHART F: Cessna Citation M2 Maximum Maintenance Equity
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.
In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favorable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS), 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 is 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 seven-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 Act, taxpayers may be able to deduct up to 100% of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased 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 C depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2020- model HondaJet Elite in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. The price is as published by B&CA at the time of writing.
TABLE C: HondaJet Elite Sample MACRS Depreciation Schedule
Meanwhile, Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2020-edition Cessna Citation M2 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods. Again, the price is per B&CA.
TABLE D: Cessna Citation M2 Sample MACRS Depreciation Schedule
The points in Chart G are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the horizontal axis is as published in B&CA. The productivity index requires further discussion since factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed, and cabin size.
CHART G: HondaJet Elite versus Cessna Citation M2 Productivity Comparison
The HondaJet Elite offers more speed and a greater cabin volume than the Cessna Citation M2. The Cessna Citation M2, meanwhile, has a higher ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ and a nominal 12nm longer range when carrying four passengers than the HondaJet Elite. The HondaJet Elite is purchased at a slightly lower price ($5.3m vs $5.305m) when new.
These two Light Jets are very closely matched, and it is clear that would-be buyers should weigh the capabilities of each model very carefully against their own specific mission need to determine which one is the best choice for their own flight operation.
Within these paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business jet operators value, although there are other qualities, such as airport performance, terminal area performance and time-to-climb that might factor in a buying decision.
Ultimately, there is plenty for a prospective buyer to consider when deciding which performance criteria is better suited to them in an aircraft. Both the HondaJet Elite and Cessna Citation M2 offer great value in the Light Jet market today.