“Let me be straight with you. What I'd rather have is an airplane. We just had a third kid. I don't like flying commercial. I like to take my family to Hawaii. When I go east, I'd like to have pilots I know. ”
Cessna's Citation Cj4
Cessna delivered the first Citation CJ4 (Model 525C) in April after wrapping up a rigorous flight-test program that included 1,000 sorties and more than 1,600 hours in the air since the airplane's first flight in May 2008.
The new model, which received FAA certification in March, is the latest in Cessna's popular CJ series of light twinjets, a line that is entering its third decade. The manufacturer launched the original Model 525 CitationJet in 1989 as a replacement for the early 1970s vintage Citation I. With each subsequent iteration, the CJ1, 2 and 3, the airplane grew a little bit faster and a little bit longer.
But it would be a mistake to call the CJ4 just another stretched out and updated CJ. While the $8.75 million, 16,950-pound (maximum takeoff weight) CJ4 is not a clean-sheet-of-paper design, it's a "lessons learned" airplane from a company that has learned a lot about small jets in the last 40 years.
While Cessna wanted to introduce a variety of new design features and technologies in the eight- to nine-passenger CJ4, it also wanted to mitigate risk, so it applied items successfully incorporated in several of its other newer airplanes. It borrowed the slicker wing geometry from the larger Citation Sovereign and the bigger passenger door from the Citation Mustang. The more powerful Williams FJ44-4A engines are derivatives of those on the CJ3. The peppier engines and slipperier wing allow the CJ4 to cruise at 453 knots and climb directly to 43,000 feet. Range has been increased to 1,963 nautical miles and full-fuel payload has grown to 1,000 pounds. (Maximum payload is 2,100 pounds.)
Up front, the pilots' seats have two inches more legroom and the instrument panel has a more logical, ergonomic layout. The avionics are tried-and-true: four-display Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 with the latest safety enhancements, including electronic charts, graphical weather uplink and Multiscan weather radar, terrain avoidance and anti-collision systems. Like all CJs, the CJ4 can be flown single-pilot.
While these refinements unquestionably make the CJ4 a better jet, it is inside the redesigned passenger compartment where you are apt to notice the most dramatic changes.
Passenger electronics have been upgraded with the Rockwell Collins Venue cabin-management system. There are switch panels at each seat position and power outlets for laptops or other accessories at two passenger seats and both pilots' seats. The Venue system controls all in-flight entertainment equipment, including iPod connectivity, Blu-ray player, moving maps and 100-gigabyte hard-drive storage for personal media. The standard package includes a single satellite radio receiver and two plug-in, arm-mounted, 10.6-inch high-definition monitors. You can buy additional receivers and monitors that can be plugged in and moved between any of the six main passenger seats. Venue also controls all indirect cabin lighting as well as the electronic window shades, which can be set anywhere between clear, shear and full blackout mode.
The LED reading lights aren't dimmable but are installed as part of an integrated light/gasper combination. The environmental system has been fortified and improved through the addition of an extra evaporator, separate controls for pilot, copilot and passenger cabin, and redesigned air valves. The new valves can be swiveled 360 degrees and have louvers and a separate shutoff ring.
Compared with the CJ3, the CJ4's fuselage was stretched 21 inches, yielding more passenger legroom. Passenger capacity has grown to nine (copilot seat, belted aft lavatory seat and side-facing kibitzer opposite the cabin entry door plus six standard single executive seats).
The cabin seats feature a new design with a much beefier mechanism. The seat pitch and foam sculpting have been changed for improved comfort. The seats also have sturdy flip-up arms that can be stowed out of the way to improve the comfort of plus-sized passengers.
The CJ4's cabin floor has been lowered to provide a wider surface and better viewing out the windows. Three basic floor plans offer wider choices for refreshment centers and seat placement. New cabinets and panels give the CJ4 interior a clean, flowing appearance and sculpted lower sidewalls also afford more space. The aft lavatory features a left-hand belted potty, a small vanity and pocket doors. Unfortunately, the lav cannot be externally serviced.
The CJ4 also offers the option of quick-change mounts, allowing buyers to alter the aircraft configuration rapidly to better handle specific missions. For example, you can swap out the large forward refreshment center for a smaller one and a side-facing seat when you need extra passenger capacity. The change-out relies on a proprietary pin-mounting system developed by Cessna that cuts installation and removal times. The system not only makes the CJ4 easier to reconfigure, it also allows the interior to come together much faster during initial manufacture.
Although the CJ4 is a comparatively small business jet, Cessna offers it with a wide choice of colors, fabrics, materials and finishes. For example, you can select from dozens of embossed and patterned carpet options.
It may be a little jet, but it has a lot to offer.
At a Glance
Price (2008 dollars): $8.75 million
Passengers (standard): 8-9
Range (six passengers and reserves): 1,963 nm
Maximum cruising speed: 453 kt
Cabin Width: 58 in
Cabin Height: 57 in
Cabin Length: 17 ft 4 in
Cabin Volume: 398 cu ft