Cessna Citation Longitude

The key to the Longitude’s success is technology that cuts costs and makes sense for customers.

When Cessna launched the original $25.9 million, 12-passenger Citation Model 700 Longitude in 2012, it based the aircraft’s design on Safran engines that delivered a 4,000-nautical-mile range at Mach 0.82. However, the company rethought its plans, and late last year it unveiled a new strategy for attacking the super-midsize market: a revamped Longitude with shorter legs (3,500 nautical miles), Honeywell HTF 7000-series engines, and a leaner $23.9 million price tag. Cessna expects FAA certification this year for the revised Longitude, which first flew last October.

Moving into larger-cabin aircraft represents a directional departure fraught with considerable commercial risk for Cessna. It made its jet bones with popular lines of light and midsize aircraft, markets where its share has eroded in recent years in the wake of a challenge from Embraer and, to a larger extent, the 2008 recession, which has cut the volume of new bizjet deliveries virtually in half industrywide. The super-medium space where the Longitude will compete is already crowded with other able long-embedded offerings from Bombardier, Dassault, and Gulfstream and a newer heavy-medium from Embraer, the Legacy 500. Together, these models have accounted for around 1,000 deliveries.

For the Longitude to break out in this traffic, it must offer a superior value proposition, which means it will be competing largely on price—both acquisition and life cycle—a main reason it is eschewing expensive systems like full fly-by-wire flight controls. (It will have limited fly by wire for the rudder, spoilers, and brakes (“brake by wire”). It will feature the Garmin G5000 flat-panel touchscreen avionics system (similar to the one in the new midsize Citation Latitude) with optional head-up display and enhanced vision systems, a fast cruise speed of 476 knots, and a full-fuel payload of 1,600 pounds.

For Cessna, the key to the Longitude’s success is using technology in ways that cut costs and make sense for it and its customers. To achieve these economies, the company has devoted substantial resources to human-factors engineering and to applying robotic manufacturing to aluminum construction. The aircraft will be equipped with the LinxUs system to provide real-time maintenance monitoring and solutions, including when it is airborne. It also has more user-friendly maintenance access ports than past models.

The aircraft shares the midsize Citation Latitude’s flat-floor cabin cross section—six feet tall and more than six feet wide—making it the narrowest in class. However, the Longitude will have the lowest cabin altitude in class: 5,950 feet at 45,000 feet. Cabin length is 25 feet. A variety of configurations will be available, with passenger seating for up to 12, although eight to nine will be typical; a full forward galley; and an aft lav with vacuum flushing toilet. The 112-cubic-foot baggage compartment will be accessible in flight. 

The stock galley is flexible, reflecting the trend toward self-service in this category. It features a sink with potable water, plus ice drawers, and ample stowage; but items such as convection and microwave ovens are extra-cost options. Natural light throughout the cabin comes from 14 large windows. LED lighting is controlled via a wireless cabin-management system that Cessna has successfully implemented lately on some of its other models, including the Citation X+. The system also delivers a menu of information/entertainment choices, such as SiriusXM and moving maps. 

Iridium satcom is standard, and that allows Wi-Fi at speeds that are poised to increase significantly with the launch of next-generation satellites between now and the end of 2018. Passengers can operate the system via onboard touchscreens, controllers, or smart devices (with a downloaded app). 

The slide/swivel/reclining seats will be wide and plush. Moreover, Cessna claims the aircraft will have more passenger legroom than any other aircraft in class, allowing most of the single executive seats to be full berthing.

The standard configuration features a double club-four arrangement of eight single executive seats plus a side-facing single kibitzer in the front of the aircraft that’s suitable for a flight attendant, but the aircraft can also be ordered with an aft three-place side-facing divan or a forward two-place side-facing kibitzer. Each single seat has two USB charging ports and ample sidewall stowage for personal items. 

Cessna is now working on a larger Longitude. The  4,500-nautical-mile, $35 million Citation Hemisphere will be aimed at the low end of the large cabin market. Safran has now resolved the Silvercrest engine’s technical issues and so it will now power the Hemisphere.    

EDITOR'S NOTE: The above article, which appeared in our February/March 2017 print edition, has been revised here to reflect updated information about the anticipated certification date, the engines, the in-flight-entertainment system, and the seating.