Cessna Citation Ascend Progresses with FAA Certification Testing

“We have 125 flights and nearly 350 hours on the prototype.”

Textron Aviation is progressing with the development and certification of the Cessna Citation Ascend midsize business jet and remains on track to bring the aircraft into service in 2025, the company recently announced.

“The program is making great progress. We have 125 flights and nearly 350 hours on the prototype,” Lannie O’Bannion, Textron Aviation’s senior v-p of global sales and flight operations, told reporters during a recent briefing at the company’s Wichita headquarters. “We're already starting to certify different aspects of the program.”

As part of the certification process, the Federal Aviation Administration recently completed human factors testing in an “iron bird” ground-based test rig for the Ascend aircraft, said director of engineering at Textron Aviation Aasiri Fernando.

The ground-based test rig, which is located at Textron Aviation’s innovation center on the company’s Wichita campus, includes a flight simulator with a full flight deck. Engineers have been using the iron bird for early development and procedural testing, Fernando explained. 

Textron Aviation unveiled the Citation Ascend—the latest iteration of its 560XL family—at the EBACE 2023 convention in Geneva, and the cabin mockup made its U.S. debut at the NBAA-BACE convention in October. 

The $16.7 million airplane features Garmin G5000 avionics with autothrottles and powerful Pratt & Whitney PW545D engines. With a flat floor, the cabin includes new swiveling passenger seats along with larger windows. It can seat up to 12 passengers.

While Textron has not yet revealed the final performance specifications, preliminary estimates target a range of 1,900 nm at high-speed cruise with four passengers and a maximum cruise speed of 441 knots.

“With the prototype aircraft’s successful completion of rigorous certification tests and more than 350 flight test hours, we are confident in the development progress of the Citation Ascend,” said Chris Hearne, Textron Aviation’s senior v-p of engineering and programs. “The success of the program to date highlights the skill and commitment of our teams in designing and delivering the best aviation experience for customers.”