““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Cessna’s Citation Latitude
Last October, Cessna introduced the first in a new series of midsize business jets. The $14.9 million (2011 dollars) Citation Latitude features seating for eight, a large fuselage and a range of 2,300 nautical miles.
The fuselage is the most striking feature. The fuselage cross section used on Cessna’s current midsize cabin offerings–the Citation XLS+, Sovereign and X–began life on the Citation III in 1979. It is flying again on the new, almost supersonic Citation Ten, which is now in flight test and scheduled to enter service in 2014. But with new product competition from Bombardier and Embraer, Cessna executives knew it was time for a change if the company was going to rebuild its diminishing share of the midsize market. A trip to the “back to the future parts bin” wasn’t an option. Any new midsize aircraft would need to offer stand-up headroom as well as better overall cabin space and functionality.
Enter the cavern. The Latitude’s flexible, flat-floor cabin is 27 feet, six inches long; 72 inches tall; and 77 inches wide. For a Cessna, that’s large. And the company’s designers used a clever combination of lighting and seat and window positioning to create an illusion of even greater interior space. One example: the passenger service units feature cabin-length indirect overhead LED lighting, with variable adjustment for direct reading lights. Proprietary software can control both the intensity and shape of the LED beam.
There’s more than high-tech lighting for your “inner nerd” to love on the Latitude. Passengers increasingly want the latest and greatest electronic options regardless of cabin size, especially on longer flights. In a midsize aircraft, this presents challenges in terms of both space and weight. Cessna plans to address the issue by incorporating the black boxes for the new Clairity cabin-management and IFE systems into the aircraft’s Garmin G5000 avionics system. It’s the same one being developed for the larger Citation Longitude that Cessna unveiled in May; the barely subsonic Citation Ten that is now in flight test; and the 525 Relentless super-medium twin helicopter that sister company Bell Helicopter announced in February.
The G5000 in the Latitude’s cockpit features three 14-inch LCD primary and multifunction displays and four touch-screen control panels. It includes synthetic-vision technology, electronic charts, the safe-taxi system, a dual flight-management system, precision GPS landing technology, solid-state weather radar with turbulence detection and vertical scan capability, an integrated terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), and data link. Satellite weather is optional.
The fiber-optic Clairity cabin-management system allows completely wireless control of cabin functions. It will be fully compatible with personal devices such as iPhones and Droids and will gain the ability to add features, such as VoIP, over time. It also has plenty of reserve power: Each passenger can watch a different movie but that taxes only 7 percent of the system.
The Latitude’s standard seating arrangement accommodates passengers with a forward, two-seat, side-facing couch, a club-four grouping of single seats and two more single seats aft of that. The six pedestal single seats track forward and aft seven inches and laterally four inches on the seat base with 180-degree swiveling capability and infinite recline positions.
Seats have traditionally been the Achilles heel in a midsize Cessna cabin–about as aesthetically appealing and comfortable as church pews. Several years ago,
Cessna began to design a seat for its next-generation aircraft with the goal of improving both comfort and function. The Latitude’s cabin seats use the same structure and are the same size as those in the new Citation Ten. The seats feature an exposed pedestal to maximize space for feet and small carry-ons for stowage below. Omitting pedestal shrouds also eliminates unsightly scuff marks and broken connectors. The new seat has been sampled by multiple focus groups of various shapes and sizes. Larger Latitude passengers will appreciate the new armrests–they fold up and retract into the seat back, providing additional thigh room.
While incorporating more comfort and new technology that is well along on the development path, Cessna eschewed adoption of the relatively exotic, such as fly-by-wire actuation for the flight surfaces. The cruciform tail and the tweaked airfoil are basically the same as those on the current Cessna XLS+.
Cessna is also going with the tried and true when it comes to the engines. A pair of FADEC (full authority digital engine control) Pratt & Whitney Canada PW306D turbofans (5,700 pounds of thrust each) will power the Latitude. PW300-series engines have been in use for 20 years, have accumulated more than 6.9 million flight hours and are installed on a variety of business jets from the Dassault Falcon 7X trijet to the Cessna Citation Sovereign and the Learjet 60.
The powerplants will propel the Latitude to 43,000 feet in 23 minutes en route to a maximum cruise altitude of 45,000 feet. Like its predecessors, the Latitude will have good short-runway capability. Cessna estimates runway distance required at maximum takeoff weight to be 3,900 feet.
A bigger cabin combined with good operating economics should make the Latitude a popular choice for those seeking a modern midsize business jet.
Cessna expects to fly the Citation Latitude in 2014 and begin deliveries the following year. The second model in the new family–the Longitude– has a planned first-flight date in 2016.