Citation CJ4
Citation CJ4

Cessna Citation CJ4

It may not be quite the best in its class, but it’s probably the best value.

Even with $8-a-gallon jet-A fuel in some places, the used bizjet market is still on fire, with some models commanding prices that are higher than what the aircraft sold for new just a few years ago. Perhaps nowhere is this insanity more manifest than in what I will call the large end of the light jet market—a sector dominated by the Pilatus PC-24, the Embraer Phenom 300/E, and the Cessna Citation CJ4. All three aircraft offer respectable speed and range, a comfortable cabin for their size, and decent operating economics, fuel prices aside. In this triumvirate, the CJ4 does not provide the most modern avionics or the roomiest cabin, but it may well be the best value. 

Cessna delivered the first Citation CJ4 (Model 525C) in April 2010 and has handed over more than 320 to customers since then. It is the largest of Cessna's popular CJ series of light twinjets, a line that is entering its fourth 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 17,110-pound (maximum takeoff weight) model 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 50 years.

While Cessna wanted to introduce a variety of design features and technologies in the eight- to 10-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 is 1,963 nautical miles and full-fuel payload is 1,000 pounds. (Maximum payload is 2,100 pounds.)

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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, MultiScan weather radar, and terrain-avoidance and anti-collision systems. Like all CJs, the CJ4 can be flown single-pilot and has excellent short-field capabilities: with a full load, it can take off in less than 3,500 feet, and for most missions, it needs only 3,000 feet of runway.
Citation CJ4 cabin
Citation CJ4 cabin

A Well-equipped Cabin

The cabin was refined for its time, offering the Rockwell Collins Venue cabin-management system, switch panels at each seat position, and power outlets for laptops or other accessories at two passenger seats. The Venue system controls all in-flight entertainment equipment, including a Blu-ray player, moving maps, and a 100-gigabyte hard drive for storage of personal media. The standard package included a satellite radio receiver and two plug-in, arm-mounted, 10.6-inch high-definition monitors. You could buy additional receivers and monitors that could 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 from clear to blackout mode. The CJ4 also has an externally serviced flushing aft lavatory with belted seat, which was optional until serial number 100, then became standard. The aft lav also features a small vanity and pocket doors for privacy. 

Citation CJ4 cockpit
Citation CJ4 cockpit

The LED reading lights aren't dimmable but are installed as part of an integrated light/gasper combination. The environmental system has separate controls for the pilot, the copilot, and the cabin and air valves that can be swiveled 360 degrees and have louvers and a separate shutoff ring.

Compared with the smaller CJ3, the CJ4's fuselage was stretched 21 inches, yielding more passenger legroom. Overall, the cabin measures 58 inches wide, 57 inches tall—including the space created by the dropped center aisle—and 22 feet, four inches long. 

The aircraft can accommodate nine passengers in six standard single executive seats, a two-seat, side-facing kibitzer opposite the cabin entry door, and a belted aft lav seat. (If no copilot is on board, passenger capacity increases to 10.) The kibitzer can be replaced by a single side-facing seat and a larger refreshment center. The six single seats in the main portion of the cabin have sturdy flip-up arms that can be stowed out of the way to improve the comfort of larger passengers. Quick-change cabin mounts allow operators to swap out seats and monuments to fit various missions. For example, you can replace the large forward refreshment center with a smaller one and a side-facing seat when you need extra passenger room. Two external holds—one in the nose and one in the aft fuselage—combine to provide capacity for 70 cubic feet of baggage. 

Attractive Range and Pricing

With full fuel, the CJ4 can take on 1,000 pounds of payload or about five occupants and fly 1,926 nautical miles with NBAA IFR reserves at 430 knots. Power comes from a pair of Williams International engines with 5,000 hours between overhauls. 

Prices for used CJ4s made between 2010 and 2015 range from $5.282 million to $6.621 million—figures that represent retention of 72 to 80 percent of the original value, according to the aircraft pricing service VrefYou’ll pay $800,000 to $1 million more for a comparable vintage Embraer Phenom 300. Pilatus PC-24s, which were first certified in 2017, are relatively new to the market, and the rare used ones being offered are commanding prices that sometimes exceed $9 million—or 105 percent of new. 

Cessna refreshed the CJ4’s cabin last year and new aircraft are now badged the CJ4 Gen 2 and selling for north of $11 million. Added features include new folding airstairs, seating options, ambient lighting, and a galley with improved storage. 

No, the CJ4 isn’t the newest or flashiest entrant into the “large light” business jet segment, but in an overheated market, flash isn’t everything. 

Citation CJ4
Citation CJ4

2015 Cessna Citation CJ4 

Used price (typical): $6.6 million 

Engines: 2 Williams FJ44-4A turbofans (3,621-pound-thrust each)

Avionics: Collins Pro Line 21 

Crew: 1–2 

Passengers: 8–10 

Range: 1,963 nm 

Maximum cruise speed: 453 knots 

Cabin: 58 in (W), 57 in (H), 22 ft 4 in (L)

Baggage: 70 cu ft